Read Genesis 44:14-34
14Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 15Joseph said to them, "What is this you have done? Don't you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?"
16"What can we say to my lord?" Judah replied. "What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants' guilt. We are now my lord's slaves — we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup."
17But Joseph said, "Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace."
18Then Judah went up to him and said: "Please, my lord, let your servant speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19My lord asked his servants, 'Do you have a father or a brother?' 20And we answered, 'We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother's sons left, and his father loves him.'
21"Then you said to your servants, 'Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.' 22And we said to my lord, 'The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.' 23But you told your servants, 'Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.' 24When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said.
25"Then our father said, 'Go back and buy a little more food.' 26But we said, 'We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man's face unless our youngest brother is with us.'
27"Your servant my father said to us, 'You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28One of them went away from me, and I said, "He has surely been torn to pieces." And I have not seen him since. 29If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.'
30"So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy's life, 31sees that the boy isn't there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. 32Your servant guaranteed the boy's safety to my father. I said, 'If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!'
33"Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord's slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come upon my father." (NIV)
This is a powerful passage. In it, we see Judah pouring his heart out to Joseph. Judah is pleading for Joseph to relent from his punishment. Notice that Judah starts with the community. We are all your slaves. Often times, it is a community that must repent of its sins. There are communal sins that must be addressed. And not just confessing, but repenting of that action through action. Most times, we don’t realize that repentance is more than a state of mind, it is an action. The word comes from nomadic people who would say when you are lost, you repent. To repent means to turn around and retrace your steps until you know where you are and proceed from there. The action of repentance is to restore ourselves and our relationships to where we know we were right.
So Judah begins by saying they will all be slaves for the wrong that was done. But Joseph tells them that only one has done wrong, the others are free to go. He points out that this is a individual sin, not a communal sin. Judah then responds with a plea to let the punishment fall on him. He is willing to take the punishment so that those he loves might have life. Judah realizes that if Benjamin does not return, he father will likely give up. This would have an affect on the whole family. So Judah offers himself.
This is an image of Christ by Judah. To offer himself for the sins of others to that the whole might have life. This is what it means to serve in the name of Christ. To put others ahead of our self. This was the motto of the early Salvation Army, “OTHERS.”
Have you seen times in your life where confession has led to repentance with has then led to service? I think this is how God moves us along in our journey with him. We need to see that in confession, God will begin us on a journey towards good and restoration – not only our restoration, but others.
In the next section, we will see the reaction of Joseph to this plea by Judah.
Blessings and Peace