44 Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. 2 Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said. 3 As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4 They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? 5 Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’” 6 When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. 7 But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! 8 We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9 If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.” 10 “Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.” 11 Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12 Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city. 14 Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 15 Joseph 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.” 17 But 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.”
“God has uncovered your servants’ guilt” v16. This passage presents people at the crossroads. Will Joseph’s brothers face up to their secret history?
This statement by Judah struck me – God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. There is such a contrast to verse 8 where they protest their innocence, quite rightly. However Joseph’s test of them has brought to the surface their feelings of guilt. Judah speaks for them all. He is not speaking of any guilt over the silver cup, rather of something deeper and darker, only known to God – how they sold their brother Joseph. The weight of guilt has been heavy on their hearts, and here at last God has broken through. That Joseph himself was the instrument God used to bring about the transformation is poignant and no accident. Here is the start of their redemption, the hope of freedom. What a gracious God we have.
Sometimes I live with guilt. It can paralyse and feed negative thoughts. Guilt robs me of a freedom of spirit. At its heart, guilt denies grace. Jesus died to take my guilt, to set me free. Why would I want to remain condemned when I can be restored and free?
Dear Jesus. Your death in my place has taken away my guilt. I ask that you will guard me from slipping back into feelings about guilt. I love the hope of freedom.
Written by Claire Moore