Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for May 26

Here’s the Explore the Bible Sunday School lesson commentary for May 26, written by Ben Stubblefield, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile.

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for May 26

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By Dr. Ben Stubblefield
Visiting assistant professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile


Genesis 50:15–26

Message Sent (15–18)

Joseph’s brothers worried that the primary reason he did not execute vengeance upon them was because of his love for his father, Jacob. When Jacob died, therefore, they got nervous that Joseph would feel unrestrained or, at best, demotivated to take care of them.

They reported to Joseph that Jacob left a dying will for him to forgive them fully and forever (16). The text is not clear about whether or not that is true, but it is clear about how deeply that news impacted Joseph (17).

It seemed to frustrate him, but I bet what hurt him more was the presumption that he would forget mercy and abandon grace. And that’s a struggle to which I think we can all relate.

I’ll admit I have a hard time understanding the depths of God’s grace toward me. There are seasons in my life that I imagine God likes me less.

There are seasons when I imagine that God likes me because of what I have done to earn His favor. But neither are true, are they? He loves me and is pleased with me, in season and out of season, on the basis of what Christ has done for me, not on the basis of what I’ve done for Him.

His love toward His own flows to us as freely as it flows to His own Son. And that’s a love that can’t be measured or contained or calculated.

The brothers are normal in their suspicions that their favor has run out, and, if we’re honest, we can also get that way with the Lord. But they’ve miscalculated the enormity of Joseph’s love. And that’s a miscalculation the Lord’s people have no reason to ever make.

Truth Declared (19–21)

The brothers prostrate themselves before Joseph as an act of servitude and submission, but Joseph will have none of it. That’s actually a repeated theme of God’s choice agents through the Bible (cf. Rev. 22:9). Unsteady he offers a gracious and powerful theological perspective: “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”

Joseph sees God’s guiding hand through his own personal tragedy, the heart of the Pharoah, and the crushing famine that brought his brothers to Egypt. All his life, he recognizes, even it’s trials, have been used to bring God’s good and blessed plan for his people to fruition.

I remember a pastor once saying, “At some point, everybody is going to go through life’s giant wood-chipper.” And what he meant was that, sooner or later, we’re all going to experience a challenge, a trial, a betrayal, a valley of some kind. And our brother, Joseph, shows us how to navigate such trials with a supernatural perspective. Because God is always faithful, and because God is always in control, He takes the trials and turns them into triumphs, crosses into crowns, our groaning into glory. That doesn’t make any suffering any easier, but it does keep the Christian sure and steady — anchored through the storms.

Promises Assured (22–26)

One of the reasons I enjoy serving an intergenerational church is because my children get to hear Sunday School lessons, choir songs, and prayers from people who have a little more silver-haired wisdom than I do. It’s not just daddy or teenagers or young professionals who love the Lord.

But people who have experienced the full range of life’s good and bad, who have been in church for a long time and seen its good and bad, and who have testified their whole lives to the glory of God who are telling my little children, “Jesus is worthy.”

That has a power that, if you’ll excuse me for saying it, young people just don’t have yet. It’s a superpower that only comes with old age!

Joseph knows his time has come. And yet, even in his dying breaths, he testifies to the promise and power of God. For three generations, he models faithfulness to the Lord.

And he raises his children and his nephews and nieces, who’ll raise their children, though foreign-born to a foreign land, to live faithfully to Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.