His response to his treacherous siblings invites us to reevaluate similar relationships in our lives.

You’re reading the English translation of the winner of Christianity Today’s second annual essay contest for Christians who write in Chinese. Learn more about the competition and CT’s multilingual work and check out the winning essays written originally in Portuguese, French, Indonesian, and Spanish.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!” (Gen. 45:4)

“Come close to me” is a simple statement. But it also signals an act of restoration.

Joseph, the victim, made a seemingly ordinary remark to his brothers, the perpetrators. He had experienced an accumulation of hurt from an unfortunate past and conflicting emotions. The sorrows of Joseph’s life constantly stalked him after his brothers betrayed him. Now, facing his past perpetrators from a high and prosperous position of power, he could have easily retaliated against them to alleviate his psychological and practical pain. Instead, he chose to praise God for his providence, reveal his own identity to his brothers, and show mercy to them (Gen. 45:5).

“Come close to me” is a phrase that may also have surfaced in the nightmares of a deeply wounded Joseph. As a young boy, Joseph was ignorant to the point that after God revealed a vision to him, he approached his brothers and shared it with them without reservation. Yet this only made them become jealous of him. Later, when his father, Jacob, asked him to go to his brothers, he went out obediently. However, the purpose of his brothers’ “coming close” to him was to kill and sell him. Their “coming close” caused Joseph the greatest harm. …

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