The Power of Sacrifice

At our Midwest Faculty Conference today we had compelling presentations today about what it means to allow our love for God to shape STEM education and the questions we ask and the research projects we pursue.

What was most striking to me however was our small group study in Genesis 44. Joseph’s eleven brothers return to Egypt seeking grain, this time with Benjamin in tow. Joseph has his cup planted in Benjamin’s sack, then has him arrested for the theft. He offers to release the eleven brothers. The climax of the passage, and perhaps Genesis, is when Judah offers himself to be enslaved in Benjamin’s place. Genesis has been one long family conflict: Cain and Abel, Abraham and Lot, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers. We talked about how this was the first time someone sacrificed himself in Genesis. And we talked about the family reconciliation this made possible. That is the power of sacrifice.

The academic world is one of looking out for oneself, of promoting oneself, and self-protection. Sacrifice is rare, and yet this passage posed for us the question of how many times might sacrifice be the thing that heals broken and dysfunctional units or departments.

We concluded with observing that it is from Judah that Israel’s kingly line came–and the ultimate servant king Jesus. Judah’s sacrifice made possible things bigger than he ever knew in his lifetime. Might that not be the case in our day as well?

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