"His Brethren talked with Him"

Notes of an Address

"And [Joseph] fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him" (Genesis 45:14-15).

The tender yearning of the heart of the Lord Jesus for His own is often illustrated for us in the types of the Old Testament scriptures; and in none does this manifest itself more strikingly than in Joseph's relations with his brethren. He is pre-eminently the man of tears of these olden but divinely given stories, and his tears flowed mainly because of his affectionate longing for his brethren. His dealings with them reached a climax when he, the ruler of a mighty nation, could hold back his pent-up feelings no longer, but cried, amid his tears, "I am Joseph." It must have been an intense moment, and the surprise of that revelation of the truth seemed, if we may read between the lines, to have robbed those eleven men of the power of both speech and action, so that he had to stretch out his hands to them and say, "Come near to me, I pray you."

Then he took them one by one and wept upon the neck of each of them, and put the kiss of his love upon every cheek. His love flowed out upon them with an irresistible force, sweeping away all their fears, until at last we are told, in the grand simplicity of Biblical language, "After that his brethren talked with him." They were at rest in his presence, their mouths were opened, and they talked to him in the family tongue — the language of the home-land and the father's house.

It could not have entered into the thoughts of those sons of Jacob that they were the brethren of that great lord of Egypt, into whose hand the mighty Pharaoh had entrusted all his wealth and dominion. They would have been contented to have remained suppliants at his feet, receiving from his bounty that which should keep their souls alive. But this would not have suited him, for he loved them well, and because be loved them he revealed the relationship in which they stood to him and made them at home in it.

We are often like Joseph's brethren, contented to receive salvation at the hand of our Lord, to accept His blessings, for these meet our needs, and our needs are often the only things that give us exercise of soul or drive us to the Lord. But as Joseph was not satisfied to meet the needs of his brethren merely, neither will it satisfy the Lord to meet our needs, for He also has a need, the need of an unquenchable love; and love cannot be satisfied apart from the company of, and communion with, the loved ones. Moreover, His loved ones must be made suitable to Himself, or His love could not rest in them. And so there is revealed to us the great fact that we are the brethren of the risen Lord, according to the message which He sent to His disciples by Mary of Magdala on the resurrection morning, "Go to My brethren, and say to them, I ascend to My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God" (John 20:7). But observe, He did not say, "I am your brother," as Joseph did to his brethren, as though He would convey to them the thought that He had come down to their level, but He said "My brethren," and in His words there is revealed the great truth that He lifts us up to His level.

His disciples are His "fellows" or companions, according to Hebrews 1:9, "God, even Thy God, has anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." We are to be His companions for ever, because, by the grace of God, we are His kindred, as Hebrews 2:11 unfolds: "Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." This is an overpowering truth, and something that could never have originated in the thoughts of men; it is altogether of God, and we have to adoringly accept it as the outcome of eternal love. Yes, the believer on the Lord Jesus Christ is not merely a saved sinner — he is that viewed from one standpoint — but he is also one of the brethren of the risen Lord, who is crowned with glory and honour, and to whom the whole creation of God is made subject. That is the distinction, the glory of the relationship; but deeper than all is the affection of the relationship, and this is included in this act of divine sovereignty, for His Father is our Father, His God our God.

It is the privilege of the brethren of Christ to enjoy the communion of love with Him at all times, but there are also special occasions, and amongst these occasions the Lord's Supper holds a unique place. Then, indeed, does He say to us, "Come near to Me." The Lord's Supper brings before us the supreme act of His love; it reminds us that He stooped down into the unfathomed depths of death that He might imprint the kiss of His love upon us; and as we partake of His Supper for a remembrance of Him it is as though He put afresh that kiss on each, and assured us that His love was not exhausted by the great expression of it, and that it has not waned by the lapse of time. Then, as Joseph's brethren talked with him on receiving his kiss, so can we talk with the Lord, for the heart is moved and enlarged by the thought of His love, and our stammering tongues are unloosed to speak His glories.

We read in the Psalms, "Let us talk of all His wondrous works." And that is indeed a privilege, a privilege within the reach of all who know Him, for you will observe that it does not say, "Let us preach;" if it did we might feel the exhortation was beyond us but it says let us talk, talk about Him, as the child talks of his father, saying to his playmates, "I wish you knew my father, he is the best in all the world." But here it is not talking about Him, but talking with Him. He appreciates our talk about Him; but if we only talk about Him and neglect to talk with Him, we rob Him of that which His love prizes so highly.

The Lord's desire in this regard is expressed in the figurative language of the Song of Solomon, where the Bridegroom, addressing the bride, says, "Let Me see thy countenance, let Me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely" (chap. 2:14).

As we talk with Him in the blessed freedom and joy that His presence gives we become better acquainted with the language of the Father's house, and He rejoices to show us the Father's things, for these are the things in which, in this wonderful relationship, we have part with Him (John 13:8).