Freedom in Forgiveness


Genesis 42:7-20 “ Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he acted as a stranger to them and spoke roughly to them. Then he said to them, “Where do you come from?” And they said, “From the land of Canaan to buy food.”

8 So Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 9 Then Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed about them, and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see the nakedness of the land!”

10 And they said to him, “No, my lord, but your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all one man’s sons; we are honest men; your servants are not spies.” 12 But he said to them, “No, but you have come to see the nakedness of the land.”

13 And they said, “Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and in fact, the youngest is with our father today, and one is no more.”

14 But Joseph said to them, “It is as I spoke to you, saying, ‘You are spies!’ 15 In this manner you shall be tested: By the life of Pharaoh, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here.

16 Send one of you, and let him bring your brother; and you shall be kept in prison, that your words may be tested to see whether there is any truth in you; or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies!” 17 So he put them all together in prison three days.

18 Then Joseph said to them the third day, “Do this and live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined to your prison house; but you, go and carry grain for the famine of your houses. 20 And bring your youngest brother to me; so your words will be verified, and you shall not die.” And they did so.

Matthew 25:41- 46 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.

’44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’

45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’

46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Genesis 45:1-15 Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it.

3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. 4 And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.

5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

8 So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.9 “Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph: “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not tarry.

10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children’s children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have. 11 There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine.” ’

12 “And behold, your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my mouth that speaks to you. 13 So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here.”14 Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15 Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him.

Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”And they divided His garments and cast lots.

Genesis 50:15-20  When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” 16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” ’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”
19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.


What surprises you from the Bible verses?

What do they teach you about people?

What do they teach you about God?

Is there a command to obey?

Who do I need to share this message with?

Study Notes

But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life’ ” (Gen. 45:5, NKJV)

A man had been accused of sexually assaulting a woman. She positively identified him in a police line-up. Though evidence made his guilt questionable, the woman was adamant that “John” was the guilty party.

And so John went to prison, where he would spend the next 14 years for a crime that he did not commit. When DNA evidence exonerated, the woman, “Joan,” realised her terrible mistake.

After he had been released, the woman wanted to meet him. What would this man, who had suffered so much, do when he came face-to-face with the woman who had ruined his life for so many years? When he entered the room, Joan burst into tears when they looked each other in the eyes.

Joan recalls, “John just leaned down and took my hands, and he looked at me and said, ‘I forgive you.’ I couldn’t believe it. Here was this man whom I had hated and whom I wanted only to die, now telling me, that I was forgiven. Only then did I begin to understand what grace was really about and only then did I begin to heal and have true rest.”

The story of Joseph illustrates the freedom forgiveness brings.

Throughout his life, Joseph could easily have cherished anger toward his brothers, bitterness toward his slave traders, and resentment toward Potiphar.

Yet, as the story unfolds, there is not even a hint of these negative qualities that could have easily enslaved him to bitterness.

Forgiveness changes us and frees us from bondage of resentment. Joseph’s heart was filled with forgiveness before his brothers ever asked, because he understood there was an overriding purpose for his life.

His brothers suffered from the guilt of their actions and the memory of their brothers face as he was led away into slavery. Just as Joseph needed to forgive, they needed forgiveness.

Forgiveness facilitates healing in broken relationships.
Both Jesus and Joseph share some striking similarities. Both were betrayed by those closest to them. Both were unjustly condemned. Both were falsely accused and suffered the consequences. Both forgave and were exalted by God.

Hanging on the cross with nails through His hands and feet, and blood flowing freely from each of His limbs, Jesus cried out, “ ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know not what they do’ ” (Luke 23:34, NKJV).

Forgiveness is an attitude of grace towards those who have wronged us.

It does not justify their actions, but frees them from our condemnation and treats them with kindness.

Genuine forgiveness does not wait until the person who has wronged you asks you to forgive, but chooses to forgive others even when they do not deserve it.

This is God’s example – His love reached out to us when we did not deserve it.

The End of the Story When a severe famine broke out in the land, people of the surrounding lands travelled to Egypt requesting food.

This included Joseph’s brothers. Because Joseph oversaw the food supplies, they had to report to him to purchase grain.

Given that Joseph spoke to them through an interpreter and had significantly aged since they saw him last, and being dressed as an Egyptian, they did not recognise him, but he immediately recognised them.

After testing them with a series of probing questions about their background and family, he sensed their sorrow for their past actions was genuine.

Convinced of their sincerity, Joseph broke down and wept uncontrollably in their presence. (Genesis 45:2) Joseph’s love for them overshadowed any resentment.

Once Joseph revealed who he was, his brothers were afraid that he might seek revenge now that he was in a position of power, however Joseph saw a much bigger picture.

He understood God’s larger purpose and responded to their concerns this way: “ ‘But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life’ ” (Gen. 45:5, NKJV).

Forgive Because We Are Forgiven Ephesians 4:32 is the basis for genuine forgiveness: “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (NKJV).

We forgive others because Christ has forgiven us. His forgiveness is the basis of all our forgiveness.

Remember His prayer from Golgotha’s hill: “ ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do’ ” (Luke 23:34, NKJV).

If Christ could forgive His enemies when they did not deserve it, we can forgive others when they do not deserve it.

If He could forgive those who brought Him pain, by His grace we can forgive those who bring us pain.

 “Has resentment and unforgiveness shaped your life?
Is there someone you have offended recently?
Is there a broken relationship that needs to be repaired?
Is there someone who has hurt you whom you need to forgive?
If you have offended or hurt someone, ask God to help you know how to repair the relationship?
Pray about doing something very specific to restore the relationship.
If someone has hurt you deeply, ask God to give you the grace to forgive.
Whether you need to ask for forgiveness or you need to forgive, you will find God’s grace sufficient for you.