Jacob, knew the sting of favoritism, “Isaac loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob” (Genesis 25:28). His father had preferred his brother. Favoritism produced pain and division, yet, Jacob, when it was his turn, chose a son to favor, as well. “Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors” (Genesis 37:3). Indeed, the sins of the father visit the children to the third and fourth generation (see Exodus 34:7).
After Joseph was gone, Jacob promoted Benjamin in his stead. The favorite’s chair continued to be filled. Even Joseph played favorites; “Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs” (Genesis 43:34).
The chain would be broken, at last, by way of humility. Judah, one of Joseph’s brothers, chose to be last instead of first. When Benjamin’s life appeared to be threatened, Judah offered his in exchange, “Please let me remain instead of Benjamin as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers” (Genesis 44:33). Judah offered his life for the sake of his brothers and his father. True greatness is never first in line. Serving and sacrifice always get there before it.
Joseph appears the hero of the last dozen chapters of Genesis, but God’s Son, the Servant King, would descend not through the favored line of Joseph, but through a different son, a servant. “Jesus…the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham” (Luke 3:33-34). Serving others is in God’s DNA.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
My God, what humility from the King of kings and Lord of lords. We don’t rule that way, but our Creator does. How pompous we are, the desire to be first reigns in our heart. Yet, the One who is truly First places Himself last, in the role of servant.
I have learned from Your Son, my Savior, that to be first I must be last, as well. That You shine through me when I love and serve others. May I be one who follows You downward, emptying my own pride, and replacing it with love and sacrifice.