14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron. When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?” 16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?” 17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” 21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
Devotion by Laurie Spencer
Senator John Lewis was on my mind when I read this passage. He was someone who spoke of his dreams and passions and risked his life to lead the world to a better place. He made enemies along the way. So did Joseph. So did Jesus.
Joseph earned his brother’s contempt by sharing his outrageous dreams. He told them of visions that showed the brothers bowing down to him and for that, his brothers felt hatred and wanted to kill him. In the case of Joseph of course, these were not merely dreams of grandeur but true premonitions of the future. I am sure Jesus, too, evoked hatred among Pharisees and others who felt threatened by him. Joseph’s premonitions and Jesus’ new and unheard of teachings evoked uncomfortable feelings, jealously, even rage in some.
Knowing these are biblical examples for us and even with the knowledge that we will make enemies, speaking up is something we must do. What is so important to you that you risk shaking up the status quo? What would make you cross the Edmond Pettis bridge?
Let us lift up the name of John Lewis, another visionary who spoke up in the face of hatred and violence. May he rest in peace knowing that we will find ways to follow in his footsteps and speak out.