My New Testament Joseph
(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)
"The chief butler, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him." Genesis 40:23
1. Was it simply that the butler was absorbed in the affections of home, and the duties of business? Through his imprisonment, he had been bereft of the touch of a wife's hand and the kiss of a child on lip and cheek. His occupation was in danger of going to another, and his prosperity of being lost. It was scarcely surprising that the treasures so nearly forfeited, should engross him, when once they were restored.
But home is at its best, when I am full of the recollection of my New Testament Joseph; and the wheels of business never run so pleasantly as then. I gain by thinking first of Him.
2. Was it that at Pharaoh's court, the butler was afraid to speak of his obligation to a Hebrew slave? Doubtless the stranger had conferred a measureless blessing on him; but, among the lords and ladies of Egypt, it required great courage to tell out frankly his indebtedness to an alien and a prisoner.
Just so, Christ in many circles is almost a forbidden theme. He is not fashionable in the mirthful world. There are masters of culture and leaders of society who pass Him contemptuously by. In such surroundings, am I brave enough to be His enthusiast, His witness, His champion?
3. Was it that the butler felt a kind of awe and dread when he recalled Joseph? As congenial and brotherly as the young captive was — there was a curious separateness about him, a noble scorn of much that the butler might have condoned and approved, an impressiveness of character to which he could lay little claim. It may have been a relief to banish Joseph from thought.
Just so, Jesus is holy Himself, and He demands holiness in me. I am glad of His blessings — but I may dislike His commands. And yet, the better I know them, the more resolved I shall be to bind them on my life.
4. Was it merely that the butler was unthinking and heedless? But he had not been so a little before — when the fetters lay on him and the dungeon walls shut him in. It does not commend him that he could become oblivious of his friend, immediately after that friend had lifted him into the king's palace.
Just so, how greatly I am to be blamed, if I fail to keep fresh and green, the memory of the mighty things which Christ has done for me! Mine was the worst and most shameful thraldom — and His the most astonishing emancipation. To forget the Redeemer, when He has rescued me from deserved Hell, and blessed me with undeserved Heaven — there never was ingratitude so base!
"Be thankful!" Hebrews 12:28. It is a command which nothing must induce me to disregard, and which I must hold in constant reverence. I cannot sound the praises of my Deliverer too loudly. I cannot yield myself too absolutely to Him who sacrificed Himself for me!