And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him…
1. No wonder certainly that Jacob could not believe his sons. You know from their history, and particularly from that part which is mingled with the earlier days of Joseph, how deceitfulness (inherited, too, from their parents and ancestry) had marked their conduct towards their father Jacob, whose life, I suspect, was often rendered very bitter by sad instances of their deceitfulness, and by the painful reflections upon his own conduct in his earlier days, which those instances would produce. Even Joseph's messages were not believed by Jacob, not because Jacob doubted them, but because he could not believe the messengers.
II. And that Jacob believed at last, was convinced of the truthfulness of the messages, and going down to Egypt, he saw Joseph, often enjoyed his society, and finished his eventful pilgrimage there in peace, and with the full certainty of being buried in "the promised land." A sight of Joseph's waggons convinced him.
III. We have in this affecting narrative an illustration of two important ways by which truth may be received, and indeed. through which it may be communicated. The difference betwixt the mode of teaching a truth by a simple revelation or message, and by the medium of the sight, is not, indeed, in the strictest sense of the term, that of an "objective " and a "subjective" truth; but it is very nearly this. For though indeed it may be said truly enough that teaching by means of any of the senses is "objective," there is nearly all the difference between "objective " and "subjective " in teaching by means of the sight and by means of words; because whatever the eye learns is learned by a real object, or by an object which does not profess to be the thing itself, but a recognized representation thereof. Thus the message of Joseph delivered by his brethren to their father was really (in my view) a "subjective" truth; I mean it was truth which he was to receive. But then, though the ear was the medium of reception, faith or credibility in the veracity of his children was necessary ere he could profit by it. And this faith he had not in them. He could not believe them, and he only became agitated; but the sight of the waggons convinced him. The truth was exhibited by another means; but I think also it was truth in another form. It was the truth that Joseph was alive, "objectively" brought home to Jacob by visible tangible realities. They were not like Joseph; they were not pictures, "carvings," imitations of him; but there was a reality, a matter of fact truthfulness about what he there saw before him, which, though not a convincing demonstration, was a thoroughly satisfying "objective" realization to the eye of what would not have happened but for the true loving tenderness of his long lost son. And this "objective" truth seen as an object by the eye gave reality to the " subjective" message, heard by the ear, indeed, but receivable only by the mind through faith, so that though it is said of that "subjective" truth Jacob believed not the messengers, it is immediately recorded of the "objective" truth that "when he saw the waggons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived, and he said, "It is enough; Joseph, my son, is yet alive: I will go, and see him before I die."
IV. The application of these observations to the Lord's Supper, and indeed to either of the Sacraments, appears to me to be obvious and easy. Your only means of salvation is Christ Jesus, crucified for you and risen. God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself; Christ, the Son of God, who, by His one oblation offered once for all, hath put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, forms, through the Holy Spirit, your great hope of acceptance with God. The messages sent to you from heaven are true, and abound in tenderness; they are like Joseph's message, full of truth and love. From various causes men demur to receive them. We who bring the messages are often not believed, You to whom the messages are delivered are conscious of many things which you think incapacitate you from applying them to yourselves. The blessed truths of salvation thus presented for your faith to receive and to make personally your own "subjectively," are too often not received. But then, amidst all this clatter of disputings, doubtings and arguing, what meaneth this service? What meaneth it that to-day, that every Sunday throughout Christendom, in thousands and thousands of churches, and by many thousands and even millions of Christians, a simple though significant act is celebrated, even as it has been since the last Passover, and will continue to be so "till He come" who at first appointed it? Why is it that Christians from time to time gather together to break this bread and to drink this cup? What mean ye by this service? It is "objectively" for you what the waggons proved to Jacob. It is a very simple, but "objective" act, which brings before you vividly the love of Christ, in giving His body and His blood upon the Cross for you.
(G. Venables, S. C. L.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:
WEB: They told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them. When he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob, their father, revived.