And Joseph said to his brothers, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother…
I. THERE IS AN ILLUSTRATION HERE OFFERED ON THE RETRIBUTIVE POWER OF AN AWAKENED CONSCIENCE.
II. NOTICE, ALSO, THE ILLUSTRATION OFFERED OF THE SEEKING LOVE OF GOD. It is Joseph who makes all the advances here. "I pray you": it is the monarch who invites, the judge who pleads. "Without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better." It was always so. Adam had hardly eaten of the forbidden fruit before the voice of the Lord was heard in the garden asking for him. Our Maker takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but would rather that the wicked should turn unto Him and live.
III. HERE, TOO, IS AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE EXACT DESIGN OF THE GOSPEL. Men need many things: as those brethren needed food then, for themselves, their families, and their beasts. But Joseph knew that temporary relief would amount to little. What they most wanted for all the long future was simply himself in reconciliation. "Come near to me" is exactly what Jesus Christ has always been saying to such as labour and are heavy laden.
IV. So COMPLETE IS OUR ILLUSTRATION IN THIS STORY, THAT IT LIKEWISE EXHIBITS THE NEED OF LAW-WORK IN REDEMPTION. Much as he yearned over them, he would not even for an instant relieve them of the salutary consciousness of so grievous a sin. Hence his earliest words were: "I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt." No doubt he meant to bring these men into greatest perplexity, and fill them with consternation. The first revelation of the Gospel is very much like a reiteration of the law. In some respects the rays from Calvary resemble those from Sinai; just as in some respects sunshine resembles lightning; but sunshine never strikes, and lightning often clears out a poison of impurity and so makes sunshine more welcome.
V. MARK THE EXCELLENT ILLUSTRATION WE HAVE HERE OF THE REVELATION OF DIVINE GRACE. When those brothers in that awful interview stood suppliant and frightened at the feet of the ruler, there was pictured something very like the literal fulfilment of a dream they must have remembered, when Joseph told them of the eleven wheat-sheaves he had seen bowing before the one upright. "I am your brother": this one disclosure covered the whole ground. Sold — but a brother; a monarch — but a brother; a judge — but a brother! "I am Joseph": here he probably began to talk in their own language; they heard the familiar accents of their home-speech. Benjamin recognizes his own mother's son.
VI. THERE IS AN ILLUSTRATION IN THIS STORY OF THE COMPLETENESS OF PARDON, AND RELIEF FROM PAIN. Watch how solicitous Joseph is lest his brothers should be "grieved or angry with themselves " any longer over that old, acknowledged, but not forgotten sin. When our Saviour perceives that true repentance is already in the heart of a sinner; when He knows that he understands his whole responsibility for his sins; then He is prepared to administer for his comfort some of the sweet assurances he has of God's wisdom in causing even man's wrath to praise Him. Christ seems to say then: "I am the Lord of glory, whom ye with wicked hands have crucified and slain; but God has over-ruled even this crime to His own glory and your redemption; be not grieved with yourself therefore, over-much, for Divine foreknowledge sent Me before you to preserve life."
VII. SEE HERE WHAT AN ILLUSTRATION WE HAVE OF THE SINFULNESS AND FOLLY OF REJECTING THE GOSPEL. Of course, there is nothing in the story which suggests the thought; but there is room for imagination just to make the conjecture: how would it seem? Suppose Simeon, just out of prison, had turned his back upon Joseph's offer! Suppose Benjamin, just delivered from accusation, had refused to have Joseph's arms around his neck! Suppose Judah, his eyes still moist with pleading, had rejected Joseph's kiss! And some have resisted the loving pleading and gracious tenderness of the Son of God who gave His life a ransom for us.
(Charles S. Robinson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.