Bread – Stand Up

March 24, 2014


Readings for Monday, March 24, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 44:18-34; 1 Cor. 7:25-31; Mark 5:21-43; Psalms 77,79,80

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There is an old song which stuck in my mind this morning which goes something like “Stand up, stand up for Jesus…”

We know what it means to “stand up” for something. Sometimes, just to make a point, we add something to it, like “stand up and be counted.” Of course, a person who stands up, stands for, stands against, stands in favor of, stands in opposition to, or just stands is always counted, because they then stand out from the crowd. So, another way we could say it is to say “stand up and stand out.”

Finally, the even have a name for people who admit their faults and do something about them. We call them “stand up guys.” Of course, there are “stand up gals” as well.

In today’s reading from Genesis, we have a lesson about a “stand up guy.” His name is Judah. When Joseph in Egypt says that he is going to keep Benjamin, Israel’s youngest son, Judah essentially says “no, please don’t, it will kill my father and I promised him that I would take Benjamin’s place. Please let him go and keep me.” Of all the brothers there in Egypt to get food, he was the one who stood up, stood out, and stood in place for his brother, Benjamin.

But what is not told in the reading today (because it was told earlier in Genesis) was that there was a time when Judah did not stand up. When Joseph was thrown away by his brothers out of jealousy, Judah stood around and encouraged them to sell Joseph to slavers. Instead of standing for his brother, he joined the crowd.

In the first case, with Joseph, Judah did not stand up for Joseph; he stood with the crowd, the mob, and encouraged them. He encouraged the wrong. The second time around, Judah stood up and offered himself in place of his brother; in this instance he stood against the crowd. The second time around he stood for the right.

What happened in between? Well, for one, he saw the grief of his father. But many of us see the grief of our loved ones all the time and do not turn from wickedness to righteousness. So what changed for Judah?

Maybe he just grew up. Maybe he matured from selfishness to selflessness. Maybe he tradeoff of short term pleasure against long term pain was not worth the cost. Maybe he did not want to return to Israel having failed to live up to his promise to protect Benjamin. Maybe he was ashamed from his prior treatment of Joseph. Maybe all kinds of things.

We know this – he repented of his sins, he turned, and he became a new person. His other brothers didn’t; he did.

Judah is us. We may come to the end of our rope in many ways – by making mistakes, by doing harm to others, by doing harm to ourselves, by giving in to the crushing desire for the things of this world, by selfishness, by seeing other people we love suffer, by causing people we love to suffer, by spending all we have on foolishness, by wallowing in our pride and our sin – but come to the end we will. And when we do, will we just meld into the crowd, like Judah’s brothers? Or will we repent, turn, and become new like Judah? Will we stand up only for ourselves, or will we stand up for others and take on their burdens? Will we stand up for Jesus?

How many Benjamins do we know? Will we stand up for them? How many Israels do we know? Will we stand up for them? How many Josephs do we know? Will we stand up for them?

Come, Holy Spirit, and help us to answer that question. Help us, O Lord, to be that person who stands up for You, who stands up for our neighbors, and who stands up and against the evil day. Amen.

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© 2014 GBF

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One Response to “Bread – Stand Up”

  1. KathyK Says:

    I agree with your point that Judah had a conversion experience. But I think you may have mis-remembered the circumstances of Joseph’s being sold into slavery. The other brothers were planning to kill Joseph because of their jealousy. Reuben was able to to change that plan for murder into putting him into a well for holding while the brothers decided what to do. It is implied that Reuben planned to rescue Joseph later when the other brothers weren’t around, but that didn’t work out. Perhaps he felt that selling him into slavery at least kept them from shedding his blood personally and that Joseph might survive, while at the same time removing him and his dreams and favored-son status from their lives. At any rate, Judah agreed with the brothers to spare Joseph’s life and, in return, God used that circumstance to spare the lives of all the Hebrew people.


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