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Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Today’s devotion focuses on the Old Testament reading and comes from The Old Testament Collection: Preaching Christ in the Old Testament during the Church Year.

Scripture Readings

Genesis 50:15–21
Psalm 103:1–12
Romans 14:1–12
Matthew 18:21–35

Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.

Introduction

Though Joseph’s brothers meant harm to Joseph when they left him in a pit to die, God used those terrible circumstances to save the lives of many people during a later famine. Joseph’s sufferings point us forward to Jesus, the true suffering servant, whose death and crucifixion accomplished for us the ultimate good—forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Devotional Reading

Sandwiched in Genesis 50 between the accounts of Jacob’s death and Joseph’s own death, verses 15–21 stand out as a ray of light in the darkness. They show the way of life in the midst of death. Joseph reacted to his brothers with faith and love, the kind that come from Christ and are oriented to him.

Christ also forgave those who wronged him. When he was nailed to the cross, the very first words out of his mouth had the most immediate application to the people who had just nailed him there: “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). He forgives you too.

Joseph told his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive” (Genesis 50:20). God brought good from evil also in the case of Christ. In fact, Christ’s cross is the supreme example of God bringing good out of evil! On that cross a judicial murder was carried out, the product of evil scheming by evil men against One who was totally innocent before both God and man. Still, Jesus’ death formed the fulfillment of a plan made by the Lord from all eternity, a plan for the redemption and salvation of us poor sinners. Christ’s resurrection proves that God had truly brought a good thing out of evil. The payment Jesus made really was enough, and more, to cover all the sin of all the world. It covers you.

Note what Joseph’s brothers said to him. At one point they called themselves God’s servants, and later they told Joseph that they were his servants. The brothers may not have had any profound theological thoughts uppermost on their minds when they said these words. Yet it remains true that those who belong to Christ by faith serve not only him but also one another. As we go about this service, we will sin. We cannot avoid it. However, the Lord still does good through us. He does it despite and sometimes even through our sin and evil.

[The Lord] makes us heirs of the New Testament in which he forgives our iniquity and remembers our sin no more (Jeremiah 31:34). For whatever evil the world may mean toward God’s people—and however evil it may be—on account of Christ, God means it for good.

Devotional reading is adapted from The Old Testament Collection: Preaching Christ in the Old Testament during the Church Year, “God Means It for Good” © 2010 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Hymn

Hymn is “Come Down, O Love Divine,” hymn 501 from Lutheran Service Book. Video © 2017 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

 

Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.

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