Mercy and grace

And Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, and to replace every man’s money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. This was done for them.  (Genesis 42:25)

About twenty years after Joseph’s brothers sold him off into slavery, they met again.  They didn’t recognize him, partly because he was now the Egyptian Pharaoh’s right hand.  When he saw them, he felt compassion for them, and rather than punish them for what they did to him, he instead gave them the food they needed and secretly returned their money.

What we see here is a display both of mercy and grace.  The two are compatible but they’re not identical.  Mercy is not giving what is deserved.  In this case, Joseph showed mercy by not having his brothers’ heads for what they did to him.  Grace is giving what is undeserved.  Not only did Joseph not punish them, but he gave them their grain for free, and he stocked them up with provisions for their journey.  He could have simply dismissed them, and it would have been merciful.  But instead he showed them extra favor, undeserved grace.

This is pointing forward to the great mercy and grace that Jesus would have on us.  He shows us mercy by not allowing we who believe in Him to be punished for our sins.  And He shows us grace by giving us innumerable gifts, including but not limited to faith and eternal joy in God’s presence.  How merciful and how gracious has our God been to His people!


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