Joseph and Jesus: Part 3, A Break With the Past

When the forgiving victim returns to speak a word of grace a break with the past occurs. When Joseph forgives his brothers he refuses to reenact the past, refuses to pay back an eye for an eye, refuses to seek revenge and retaliation.

Grace breaks with the violent past to open up the possibility of a new future, a future predicated on love rather than blood. Brueggemann describes this in the Joseph narrative:
[Joseph's brothers] had yet to discover that [Joseph's] assertion was a complete break with the past. They feared that the live Joseph would exploit and act out the past...But Joseph does not. He breaks that past. He invites his brothers to put that pitiful past behind them...Joseph opens to them another future. [Joseph's] self-announcement in regal language is a beginning with new possibility. The new possibility does not come from anything done by the brothers. It is, rather, a gift wrapped in the speech of their brother.
What we see playing out here with Joseph on a small, intimate, and domestic scale plays out with Jesus on a cosmic, universal scale. In Jesus's act of forgiveness, in dying for the sins of the world, his word of grace decisively breaks the past, opening up a new future for the world.

In Jesus, the cycle of violence comes to an end and the possibility of a new world opens up before us.

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