Once he explained to Pharaoh that the two dreams he’d had were but one and the same message from God—and, therefore, that certainly and soon seven years of plenty would come followed by seven years of famine—Joseph took the liberty of telling the king of Egypt what he should do about this eventuality. Beginning with verse 33, Joseph urged the king,
33 And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.
Therefore, given the certainty of what was about to occur, Pharaoh should do three things:
- Find “a discerning and wise man” and place him “in charge of the land of Egypt” (verse 33);
- “[A]ppoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of Egypt’s harvest during these initial seven years of abundance” (verse 34); and
- Have these commissioners place the food that was collected in store houses as a reserve to live upon when the seven years of famine came (verses 35–36).
Not surprisingly, as stated in verse 37, “The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials.” Therefore, Pharaoh asked, verse 38, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” Clearly not! For recall that when Pharaoh had first had the two dreams, he had “sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him; …. none of them could explain it to [him].” Clearly neither the magicians nor the wise men of Egypt had been up to such a task. Therefore Pharaoh said to Joseph, starting in verse 39, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you…. 41 …I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” What an incredible turn-around this represented for Joseph! In a matter of moments, he had gone from being a prisoner to becoming the second most powerful person in all of Egypt. For just as Potiphar, the captain of the guard, had understood that “the Lord was with [Joseph] and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did,” so now did Pharaoh. Once again we see the irony of how two pagan men had understood what his own brothers had not for both Potiphar and Pharaoh had discerned that the LORD was with Joseph and they acted accordingly whereas his brothers had been blind to this truth and consequently sold him into slavery.
Well to seal the deal, as stated beginning with verse 42, “Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, ‘Make way!’ Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Joseph had gone from riches to rags and back again, all by God’s providence and guidance. That he was made second-in-command likely meant that he had been appointed vizier, “the highest executive office below that of the king himself.” As Pharaoh underscored to Joseph, verse 44, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” And as stated in verse 45, he then completed fully integrated Joseph into the royal court by giving him an Egyptian name—Zaphenath-Paneah—along with an Egyptian wife, “Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.” Concerning On— known as Heliopolis by the Greeks which means “city of the sun”—one commentator observes that it was located “ten miles northeast of modern Cairo…and was an important center for the worship of Ra,” the sun god. Hence the appropriateness of Potiphera’s name, “he whom the sun god has given.” What is more, another notes that On’s high priest “was one of the most prominent in ancient Egypt.” Therefore for Joseph to have been given the high priest’s daughter to be his wife was a great honor. And given the ancient Near Eastern practice of parents finding wives for their sons—as Abraham did for his son Isaac and Hagar for her son Ishmael—I can’t help but wonder if part of what occurred here was that by making Joseph second in command—and giving him an Egyptian name—and giving him an Egyptian wife whether it may be the case that Joseph had, in effect, been adopted by Pharaoh to be his son. Though none of the sources I consulted went this far, whatever the case, it’s clear that Pharoah had made Joseph an indispensable part of his royal court.
Now as we noted last week, verse 46 states that “Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” Having been but a child of seventeen when his brothers sold him into slavery to the Midianites—who then sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard—as we’ve seen, Joseph had gone on to experience numerous reversals of fortune over these thirteen years: from being placed in charge of Potiphar’s household; to being falsely accused of sexual assault by Potiphar’s wife which thereby thrown landed him in prison; to being made head over that prison; to being released from that prison and now being made Pharaoh’s vizier to rule over Egypt in his stead.
In this new position of prominence and responsibility, Joseph “traveled throughout Egypt” and did due diligence to the task at hand. As stated beginning with verse 47, “47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.” So we see how Joseph put into action the plan he had recommended to Pharaoh. For just as the LORD had disclosed, these first seven years resulted in “great abundance” throughout the land of Egypt with “huge quantities of grain” being produced “like the sand of the sea.” So much so that Joseph eventually gave up keeping records because the amount of grain the land yielded was “beyond measure.” He simply couldn’t keep up with documenting so much excess grain.
Now in addition to being appointed ruler over Egypt and being granted a wife by Pharaoh, in verses 50–52 we see yet another mercy extended to Joseph—the gift of children. As stated in verse 50, “Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.” So sometime between the beginning and end of the seven years of plenty—some time prior to the onset of the seven years of famine—Joseph had two sons. And as we’ve continually seen throughout the Book of Genesis, the names Joseph gave his sons were a reflection of his circumstances. Therefore, he named his first son “Manasseh” which in Hebrew sounds like, and may be derived from, the word for “forget.” As Joseph explained, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” Joseph’s drastic change in fortune leading up to the birth of his first child had helped him forget not only all his past trouble but also the source of that trouble, his “father’s household.” What a painfully poignant thing to say. This poor young man who for thirteen years had had no family, friends, or home finally had been granted a son who helped counterbalance his brothers’ cruel rejection and treatment in selling him off into slavery and forcing him to break all ties with the only life and family he had ever known. Having survived thirteen years during which he no doubt wondered, time and again, why his brothers had carried out such a heartless act, Joseph was now able to close a painful door to his past. At last he could forget the evil that had been done to him in his past life by his brothers, his own flesh and blood. At last he could begin a new life with Manasseh, his son, his own flesh and blood.
Similarly, Joseph named his second son “Ephraim,” which sounds like the Hebrew for “twice fruitful.” And, again, Joseph’s explanation is recorded: “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” If his first son’s name allowed him to shut a door upon his traumatic past life, his second son’s name was an affirmation of God’s provision in this, his new life, a life in which his gifts were acknowledged and honored; a life in which he was able to flourish and grow. With the arrival of this, his second son, Joseph could at last move on to a brighter future with Manasseh, the first fruit, and Ephraim the second fruit. And it’s worth noting how Joseph credited God with both the healing and the plenty that he had experienced by way of his sons’ births. For it was God who had made him forget all his trouble and his father’s household; and it was God who had made him twice fruitful in the land of his suffering.
Concerning Joseph’s suffering, Psalm 105 provides some further insight into just how great it had been. After noting that the LORD our God “called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food” in verse 16, the psalmist goes on to state in verses 17–18, “17 and he sent a man before them—Joseph, sold as a slave. 18 They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons,….” Think about it: Joseph’s humiliation as a slave meant his feet had been shackled and his neck placed in irons. But then the psalmist goes on to state that this occurred, “19 till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true. 20 The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free. 21 He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed, 22 to instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom.” So the psalmist, too, recognized God’s sovereignty in both Joseph’s suffering, his humiliation, and his subsequent exaltation by Pharaoh.
Well, after the seven years of “great abundance” drew to a close, verse 53, verse 54 states that “the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said.” Or, to put it more accurately, the seven years of famine began just as the LORD had revealed. And it wasn’t only Egypt that was affected but, whereas “There was famine in all the other lands,…in the whole land of Egypt there was food.” Again, the only reason this was so was because Pharaoh had believed Joseph when he, by God’s enabling, had explained to him the meaning of his two dreams. Subsequently, verse 55, “When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, ‘Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.’” Fortunately, Joseph was up to this monumental task. As stated in verse 56, “When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt.” What is more, Joseph’s extraordinary stewardship and administrative abilities were able to provide not only for those in Egypt but, as stated in verse 57, “…all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.”— “all the world” and “everywhere” indicating all the area of the Middle East where these events took place. In this provision for not only Egypt but also the surrounding countries we again see the LORD fulfilling, through Joseph, one of his great-grandfather’s offspring, the promise he had made to Abraham that through him all the peoples on earth would be blessed.
Well, the story of Joseph is a powerful example of the value—and hope!—of history if we view history as Scripture does, that is, as the story of God’s providence in and through his creation as he expresses his goodness and extends his salvation to any and all who seek him. To those who, like Joseph, do seek the LORD, this story should serve as an encouragement for it demonstrates the many ways in which our awesome Creator is able to provide, sustain, and deliver from evil all who believe, love, and seek to serve him. For in considering the historical account of Joseph’s life, we learn from our fly-on-the-wall vantage point that though our kind LORD allows those he loves to experience suffering, even in the midst of their suffering, he is with them. Even in the midst of their suffering, he is for them. Even in the midst of their suffering, he is Immanuel, God with them.
And it isn’t just the author of Psalm 105 who understood this providential outlook of encouragement and hope, for Joseph’s life certainly seemed to serve as an inspiration for deacon Stephen in the New Testament as he faced a martyr’s death. He, like Joseph, was a follower of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who is one with Jesus Christ; he, like Joseph, was a virtuous man; he, like Joseph, was enabled by God to do miraculous things. As Luke states in Acts 6, “Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.” But, as initially occurred with Joseph, opposition against Stephen arose and he similarly ended up being charged by some making a false testimony against him declaring, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” Therefore the people, elders, and teachers of the law brought him before the Sanhedrin, the highest court of justice and the supreme council in ancient Jerusalem, and they “produced false witnesses, who testified, ‘This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.’” Yet even in the midst of these false charges and witnesses, Luke notes that the members of the Sanhedrin “looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.” Evil cannot win over good. Despite these false charges, no one could deny the goodness and truth that permeated throughout Stephen’s very being.
When “the high priest asked Stephen, ‘Are these charges true?,’” Stephen responded to these false charges by grounding his defense in history; specifically in the history of God’s working among the Jewish people whose heritage he shared with his accusers. For Stephen knew not only the value but also the hope of history recorded in Scripture of God’s working in and through those who believe in, love, and serve him. Therefore Stephen began his defense by declaring, “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. 3 ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’” Thus did Stephen begin with Abraham’s call and he went on to tell of how God established a covenant of circumcision with Abraham and had him circumcise Isaac, the son of promise, who later become father to Jacob who became father to the twelve patriarchs.
But next in his defense, Stephen turned to one of Jacob’s descendants, the story of Joseph whom we’ve been considering. As stated earlier in our Scripture reading, he declared, “9 Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.” Stephen understood that Joseph’s life was in God’s hands—as was his own life. For Stephen knew Jesus Christ; he knew Immanuel; he knew God who was with him. Therefore, as he sought to please and serve God, he drew inspiration, he drew hope from the story of Joseph. As God had been with Joseph through thick and thin—through the jealousy of brothers, through his time as a slave in Egypt—so is God with all who turn to him. To the very end, even to the point when the people began stoning him to death after he had completed his defense, Stephen trusted God. For he knew that God works in history past; and he knew that God was at work in the present; and he knew that the end of his present life wasn’t the end of God’s working.
Notice how Luke records in verse 50 of Acts 7 that as Stephen was being stoned, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” This death due to martyrdom; this death due to bearing true witness to what God had done in history past and in the present would not be the end of Stephen’s life. This was only the beginning. Even more remarkably, Luke next records that as he was dying this man of God, “Then…fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’” After he said this, he died. Stephen who had experienced God’s forgiveness through the suffering, death, and resurrection of his Lord Jesus Christ, God’s eternal Son, loved his enemies and prayed for those who persecuted him to the end—even as Jesus taught his followers to do in his Sermon on the Mount. Even as Jesus himself had declared as he hung on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Dear sisters and brothers, this is the value—and hope!—of history. For the life of Abraham; the life of Joseph; the life of Stephen; the life of Jesus; the life of all who seek to follow and serve our kind and compassionate Savior and Lord Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, who came not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through him, should be marked by such righteousness; should be marked by such right behavior; should be marked by adherence to doing what God calls us to do, no matter what the cost. For the value—and hope—and lesson of history, as recorded in God’s Scriptures is that even if, like Stephen, we are put to death for our right behavior; even if, like Joseph, we suffer and are unjustly punished for our right behavior, we can nonetheless be confident that our kind LORD is ever Immanuel, that is, our kind LORD is ever with us and for us. As he has been with those who are his in the past; as he is with all who turn to him in the present; so will he, for all eternity, be with those who confess and repent of their sins, acknowledge their need for him, and receive from him the eternal life he so freely bestows. This is the value—and hope—and promise of God throughout history; this is the value—and hope—and promise of Jesus who declared “27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Let us pray.
Benediction: Colossians 3:12–14: 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
 Genesis 41:8.
 Genesis 41:24b.
 Genesis 39:3.
 The Zondervan NIV Study Bible note on Genesis 41:42 observes that these three symbols of the transfer of authority—the signet ring, the robe, and the cold chain—can also be found in Esther (the ring and robe) and Daniel (the gold chain). See respectively Esther 3:10: So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.; Esther 6:11: So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”; Daniel 5:7, 16, 29: 7 The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom….” 16 Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom…. ” 29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
 The Zondervan NIV Study Bible note on Genesis 41:43. A point also noted in The Crossway ESV Study Bible note on Genesis 41:40–41.
 The Zondervan NIV Study Bible note on Genesis 41:45. There is a mention of Heliopolis, “the temple of the sun” in Jeremiah 43:13: There in the temple of the sun in Egypt he will demolish the sacred pillars and will burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt.
 Reformation ESV Study Bible note on Genesis 41:45.
 See Genesis 24:1–4ff: 24 Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. 2 He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”
 Genesis 21:20–21: 20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.
 Genesis 37:2, 28: 2 …Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them…. 28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
 Genesis 37:36: Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.; Genesis 39:1: 1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
 Genesis 39:2–6: 2 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
 Genesis 39:16–20: 16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
 Genesis 39:20b–23: But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
 Stated as well in Genesis 41:45b: And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.
 Genesis 41:29: Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt,….
 This is especially evident in the names assigned to Leah and Rachel’s children in Genesis 29.
 Genesis 41:16, 25–32: 16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires….” 25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. 27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine. 28 It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.”
 Genesis 12:1–3: 1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
 Though the word “deacon” isn’t used, historically the Church has recognized the appointment of Stephen and six others by the twelve disciples as an appointment of deacons. Acts 6:1–7: 1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
 For example, Jesus declared that he existed before Abraham did. John 8:51–58 [Jesus is speaking]: 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” 52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
 Acts 6:8.
 Acts 6:11.
 Acts 6:13–15.
 Acts 7:1.
 Acts 7:2–3. The reference is to Genesis 12:1: The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”
 Acts 7:4–8: 4 So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Harran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. 5 He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. 6 God spoke to him in this way: ‘For four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated. 7 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’[Genesis 15:13, 14] 8 Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.
 Acts 7:9–10.
 Acts 7:60.
 Matthew 5:44–48: 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
 Luke 23:32–34: 32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
 John 10:27–30.