Whenever I read through this famous chapter of young Joseph being betrayed by his older brothers, I usually focus on Joseph. During Advent, let’s instead reflect on the fact that Jesus’ family tree runs not through Joseph but through Judah. While Judah does make a suggestion that would save Joseph’s life, his suggestion is to betray his kid brother and his father for money.
In this story, Judah reminds me of Judas, who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. As the subsequent chapters of Genesis make abundantly clear, Judah is no hero. Nor is Judah an unadulteratedly evil villain. Instead, Judah is probably a lot like us. He is selfish. He wants money and status. He wants to get rid of frustrations. He wants pleasure without responsibility.
The hero in all of these Bible stories is God. When Joseph forgives Judah and his brothers years later in Egypt, Joseph tells his brothers and us that although we sinfully do the wrong things, God works it all out for good. This does not excuse us.
Instead, we await the coming of Christ during Advent, because He worked things out for our forgiveness. Through that forgiveness, all things are reconciled. During Advent we remember the forgiveness we have received through the long promised Messiah and expectantly await His return.
Our hope that all things will be restored is not based on the belief that we can accomplish reconciliation and restoration on our own. That hope would be in vain. Our hope is in the Lion of Judah.