'Now Joseph gave these instructions to the stewards of his house, 'Fill the man's sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man's silver in the mouth of his sack.' Genesis 44:1.
Again, Joseph reveals enormous generosity towards his brothers. Forced by his family's impending hunger, Jacob had said to his sons, 'Go back and buy us a little more food,' (43:1). But here we discover that Joseph does not carefully measure out the little more food they were able to pay for. No, he has his steward fill their sacks with as much grain as they can carry. In addition, he had him place all the silver which they brought to pay for both the previous and present consignments of grain, in their sacks.
He also ordered the steward to place his silver cup, probably the one he used when they all ate together in his house, in Benjamin's sack. Though they did not know it, it was Joseph's final test to discover what his brothers were now like, 20+years on from when they sold him into slavery. As the brothers head for home Joseph sends his steward after them. When he catches up with them he accuses them of theft and finds the cup in Benjamin's sack. The now distraught brothers return to face Joseph. On entering his presence they throw themselves on the ground before him, (v 14), convinced that they are being taken to task by God for their previous far greater crime, (v 16). Even though innocent of stealing Joseph's silver cup, they make no effort to plead their innocence, but plead for mercy.
In this world we tend to focus on our virtues and ignore or excuse our vices, our sins. We are quick to defend ourselves when accused unjustly, but slow to put our hands up when it comes to what we are guilty of. Whether it be in thought, word or deed, sins of commission or sins of omission, before God we are all guilty. Like St Paul, we all need to come to accept, 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.' (1 Timothy 1:15). We stand before him, 'without merit or pretence,' SASB 595. I am as dependent on his mercy this morning as I was when I wept over my sin and pleaded for his forgiveness 35 years ago. I praise him that his mercy is ever forthcoming, hallelujah! God bless you all.