Joseph and Jesus: Part 2, The Forgiving Victim

So, both Joseph and Jesus come back from the dead to face again those who betrayed them.

Now, we've been conditioned to view this return as "good news," but the fact of the matter is that we would be terrified to face a person whom we've betrayed and abandoned.

In short, the resurrection event initially engenders fear and the anticipation of punishment and judgment. We expect the victim to return with vengeance on his mind.

That's certainly what Joseph's brothers expect. And fear was the first reaction upon the news of Jesus' resurrection. But in both instances, the victim doesn't seek revenge. Rather, the victim returns and speaks a forgiving word. Joseph to his brothers, and Jesus to his disciples.

Here's how Walter Brueggemann describes Joseph's disclosure to this brothers and makes a parallel with the gospels:
The key fact in the life of this family is that they must live now with the reality of a live, powerful, ruling Joseph...[The] terror and astonishment of the brothers is not unlike that of the early church with the disclosure of the live Jesus...

[The past actions of the brothers] put them in grave danger. The wrath of their now powerful brother is imminent. But the response of Joseph is not the expected one. Instead of a response that depends on the past estrangement, his fresh speech concerns something new: 'Do not be dismayed...Do not be angry with yourselves...for God sent me...'
In the same way, Jesus appears to his disciples and says, "Peace." Or, in the language of Hebrews, the blood of Jesus speaks "a better word" than the blood of Abel. Instead of a word of vengeance, we get a word of mercy.

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