We continue our bibles study in Luke. And this morning we cover Chapter 10, verses 17-31. Here is the hard copy if you’d like to follow along at home: The gospel of Luke: A Bible Study.
This is the sermon for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost. The sermon text is Genesis 41:41-49. The sermon theme is: I need this. Here is the Written Sermon.
I Need This
Ineed this. I wonder how many times Joseph said those words. When Joseph was a teenager his father gave him a multi-threaded coat. It was nice. It set him apart from the others. And I’m sure that there were people who complimented him on his nice, colorful robe. But then there was that shocking and evil day. And on that day his brothers turned against him. They stripped this ornamented coat of many threads and threw him into a well. When did those words, “I need that” come out of his mouth? And afterward, when his brothers, instead of murdering him, sold him into slavery. How many times did he cry out to his brothers and his slaveholders, “Please don’t take me away. I need them. They are my family.” And as he made that slow journey down to Egypt, how many times did he cry up to his Lord above, “You can’t take make me into a slave. I need to position and reputation I had there in Canaan. There I was at the top. Here I am at the bottom.”
How many times and in how many ways did Joseph say those words, “I need this”? And how many times did the Lord say, “No Joseph. No, you don’t.” So the Lord took away his beautiful coat of many threads and gave him prison clothes. He took away his position and reputation in Jacob’s household and made him a slave. He took away his friends and his family. And all of this proved one important point: there is a difference between what we need and what we want. And it is is a sin to mistake the two. And the Lord proved this point by taking away what Joseph cherished in this life. And finally, through it all what Joseph learned was that what really truly needed was God’s grace. What he needed was God’s undeserved love and forgiveness for mistaking wants with needs.
We too sin in the same way that Joseph did. We mistake wants with needs. How many of us have enough clothing, but yet, we think that we need and deserve more? Jesus tells us in his word, “All men will hate you because of me” (Matt 10:22 NIV). But when people look down on us and make fun of us we think to ourselves, “I need people to like me, not hate me.” And then the Lord comes into our lives and he takes not just things like clothes and reputation. No, he takes people too. How many Christians have there been who when their husband or wife; father or daughter died, cried up to the Lord in prayer, “You can take that person away from me. I needed him/her!”
You see, it’s a sin to mistake what we want for what we need. And that’s a sin not just for Joseph. It’s also a sin for us. But, like Joseph, we are so amazed that what we need the Lord gives us. We need forgiveness from the Lord for our sin-especially the sin of mistaking needs and wants. And in Christ we have it. Jesus was the one who clothed us in his righteousness to cover the stain of our sin. Jesus is the one who was abandoned by his Father so that we would never be. Jesus was the one who did all of this for us because that is exactly what we needed. And out of his grace, his undeserved love, that is what he gave to us.
But the Lord isn’t just gracious to us when it comes to spiritual matters. He is also gracious to us when it comes to earthly matters-what we need in our every day lives. And this is a vital fact for us to keep in mind as we walk through these words here in Genesis 41. “41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.” (Gen 41:41-42 NIV)
This is a long section of scripture, isn’t it? In these words Moses goes on and on, telling us of one good event after another that happened to Joseph. And so, notice here in verses 41-43 what the Lord gives to Joseph. With panic and even tears, we can see Joseph crying out to his brothers, “you can’t take that robe. I need that.” And after years of prison clothes the Lord gives him fine linens. But the Lord gives him even more: “43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. 44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.”” (Gen 41:43-44 NIV)
He began his life with the status of being the cherished son of one of the most powerful men of the land. And in one day the Lord took all that away and turned him into a slave. And for years he was a slave. And now, look! Here, through Pharaoh the Lord was giving him an even higher position. He became the ruler over the entire land of Egypt. But there’s more: “Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.” (Gen 41:45 NIV)
In one day his father and all his brothers were gone. He was alone. And what do we read in these words? The Lord was kind to Joseph. Through Pharaoh he gave him a wife and a family.
There was one thing that Joseph needed. And that one thing was the Lord and all of his gracious favor. And he had it. But look at the sort of God he had and Lord he worshipped. The Lord was all that Joseph needed. But the Lord wasn’t content to let that be all that Joseph had. And so he gave him rich clothing, an important position and a family.
And my brothers and sisters in Christ, learn that lesson for yourself this morning. What you need, you already have. The only thing you need in this life is God’s grace in Christ. And through God’s word you have it. You have it in those waters of baptism. You have it in that promise of forgiveness in the Lord’s Supper. You have it. But the Lord, in his gracious favor isn’t content to let that be all that you have. He gives you clothing. In fact, you probably have so much clothing that you end up having to give some of it away. He gives you friends and family. All of this he gives you because in Christ he loves and cherishes you.
And so, when it comes to God’s grace, all of us say, “I need this.” But in these words we see that there is one more thing that we need. “46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.” (Gen 41:46-49 NIV)
Notice what happened next. The Lord gave Joseph work-vital important work. And what did Joseph do? Did he sit around in his fine linen eating grapes and taking naps? No, he did what his gracious Lord commanded. My brothers and sisters in Christ, why do you think we spend almost an entire year in catechism class on the ten commandments? Why do you think that even after you are confirmed again and again you keep learning about the ten commandments? Yes, the ten commandments show us our sin. But they also speak to our new man. They speak to that person inside of us born of water and word. They let us know what God likes. They let us know what God wants. So again and again throughout our lives we keep going back to them so that we can see clearly what our God wants. And then in simple, direct and humble ways we follow it. We follow these commandments out of thanks to our Lord who has given us the one thing that we so desperately need: his gracious favor.
And that is exactly what we need. We need a way to thank him. Out of his grace he forgives our sins. Out of his grace he provides for our daily needs and watches over our daily lives. We cannot earn any merit from him. But we can thank him. And so we look to the ten commandments especially for that reason. To that new person inside of us they are light and life.
I need this. That is what what we so often think and sometimes even say. This morning through Joseph’s life we learn that the gracious favor we need we have. This morning we learn that the ability to thank the Lord, he gives to us. Amen.