I dreaded that early morning call. It was my assignment for the day. I never knew where it would take me, and that daily uncertainty stressed me out! You see, I was a substitute teacher, and until a full-time position opened, I was at their mercy. Go where you are needed. Nearly every day of every week all semester long, I found myself representing someone else. Just a pretend teacher taking the place of the one with real authority. Substitutes are tested and proven by little people who know they don’t have much clout. Many a time I drove out of the school parking lot in tears. It’s not easy taking someone else’s place. Getting all the grief that the official teacher would never put up with…especially when you don’t know names or subject matter. They took it out on me. It was if I sacrificed my dignity to be abused and humiliated for a day. All for the good of the kids and the teacher (thankfully, I did get paid for the pain). I took someone else’s place and it was often unpleasant and painful. But that’s the lot of a substitute.
Read Genesis 44:17
1. How does Joseph respond when Judah offers all of the brothers to be his slaves?
Read Genesis 44:18-29
2. What detail seems important to you as Judah pleads for mercy? What do you think he hopes to gain in retelling the story of their journey to Egypt?
Read Genesis 44:30-34
3. What is Judah’s greatest fear?
4. What stands out to you in Judah’s plea for Benjamin?
5. Explain how Judah gives us a picture of what Jesus would one day do for all people?
We notice that none of the other aggressive sons of Jacob spoke up when the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. They were speechless. Only Judah defended his brothers. Making no excuse, he simply pled with the second in command for the freedom of his little brother. How Judah had changed! Even though they had not stolen the money or the cup, the brothers had been the cause of Joseph and Jacob’s unbearable grief. Now a spirit of self-sacrifice is evident which was once so foreign to Judah. We see how he was keenly concerned for his father’s suffering, something that he had caused many years before without any remorse. Judah was willing to become a substitute for Benjamin. He would take upon himself the pain of slavery just so Benjamin and his brothers could return home to their aging father. By offering himself, Judah revealed his love for his family. Judah’s offer to substitute his life for Benjamin is a picture of what Jesus would some day do for all people. Pause a moment to thank Jesus for being your Substitute on the Cross, taking your place to conquer the law of sin and death so you could experience eternal life.