After his brothers come to Egypt a second time, Joseph can no longer contain himself. Though he wants to continue putting them through it, he just can't, and he ends up telling them who he really is - their long-lost brother who they sold into slavery so many years ago. He sends them on their way, this time telling them to bring their father back with them and live in the best of all the land, and he gives them one final word of wisdom as they depart:
Don't bicker and quarrel, and don't be nervous on your way home.
Now, why on earth would they do these things? Why would Joseph have to tell them not to do these things? Could it, do you think, have anything to do with the fact that they were all about to get caught in the biggest lie they ever told?
Until now, their father, Jacob, has bought the story they told him about what happened to Joseph, which wasn't really a story at all. All they'd actually done was show him a bloody, tattered robe and invited him to fill in the blanks himself. They've watched their father's heartache for years without a single one of these brothers saying anything about what really happened, without one of them giving him the chance to go to Egypt and get his son back.
Now, they've been to Egypt and seen this not-forgotten son, and not only that, but they have an opportunity to bring their father to see him, as well. Not only to see him, but to live with him once more. To be a family again.
But first, they have to tell their father what they really did. So of course it's only natural to assume that much of the trip home is going to be spent working their story out, getting their "facts" straight, arguing and bickering and trying to figure out just how they're going to do this. You can bet they were more than a little nervous.
Any of us would be.
Which is why Joseph's words to them are so powerful, so poignant, so apt. With his wisdom, he guides them into their confession, telling them not to let the pressure and the power of the moment overwhelm them. Keep your heart. Keep your head. Keep your faith. And go.
Confession is one of those fine arts that we've lost today, even in the church. We no longer confess our sins to one another, and we certainly don't want anyone telling us we need to confess them to God. It's just not "cool" any more or something, I guess. And most of us can relate to what these brothers must have been feeling when they realized they'd have to come clean to their father.
It's the same thing we feel when we have to come clean to God.
But be honest for a second - as hurt, as disappointed, as upset as Jacob is going to be at what his sons have done to him, especially in keeping their little ruse going for so many years, it's all going to be secondary to the immense joy he will feel at the prospect of seeing his beloved son again. That's number one, plain and simple. That's what he's going to care about.
And in fact, as the story unfolds, that's all we see - Jacob's great joy at having the chance to see his Joseph again. Not once do we see him yell at his other sons. Not once do we see him discipline them. Not once do we see him even say how disappointed he is or how hurt. No, Jacob hears that his son is alive and anxious to see him, and all we see is tremendous joy and anticipation and excitement.
The same is true of our father, when we have to tell Him the truth. We're often concerned about how hurt, how disappointed, how upset He's going to be. But the truth is? That's all secondary to His great joy at having us back. That's number one. Plain and simple.
So go, confess to your Father. Don't bicker along the way, and don't be nervous about it.
Keep your heart. Keep your head. Keep your faith. And go.
He'll be thrilled to hear the good news about His child.