A Good Older Brother
Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy [Benjamin] along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life.
- Genesis 43:8-9
Buried in the center of the drama of Joseph’s life, we see this beautiful story full of echoes of the story of Jesus.
Decades earlier, Judah took prominence in the family and a significant leadership role. And he bent that influence in some cruel ways, notably by convincing his brothers to sell Joseph into slavery. But something has changed in him over the years. And today’s passage shows him stepping in to save his family.
Judah proposes to carry Benjamin down to Egypt and get the resources they all need to survive. He guarantees Benjamin’s safety. And when things get hairy in Egypt (which they do), he offers to take Benjamin’s punishment and become a slave in Benjamin’s place (Genesis 44:33). The older brother was willing to do whatever was necessary to save his brother and his family.
To paraphrase Tim Keller, Jesus was a true and better Judah, the perfect Judah, the Judah we all need. We all land in situations from time to time that are dangerous for our souls. We need someone to rescue us from our slavery to anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and pride.
Jesus refused to return to his Father without his younger brothers and sisters in tow. He brings us back to our good, good Father singing the good, good news with childlike joy: “The lost, beloved Son now lives again and we all get to go and live with him.”
How can you express gratitude to your older brother Jesus today?