For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me—for fear that I see the evil that would overtake my father?” (Genesis 44:34 NASB)
It is the most grievous of all things to break the heart of a father. Judah experienced the fear of piercing his father’s heart. Sin breaks the heart of our heavenly Father, but not like it breaks our hearts.
Joseph has just told Judah and his brothers that they could not come back to Egypt for help unless they brought with them their youngest son Benjamin. Joseph has been separated from his father, Jacob, and now if he loses his youngest son, he will go down to death in sorrow. In a desire to protect his father, Judah commits to giving his life in exchange for Benjamin’s. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
The analogy between an earthly father and our Heavenly Father breaks down at some point, as all comparisons between the temporal and divine do. Human beings are often sad about our sin because we lose. We lose our freedom, relationships, reputation, etc. God is sad about our sin but not because he loses. He is totally complete and self-sufficient. Our Lord has no needs. He is sad because he knows we lose and this is what breaks his heart. God’s love is always others’ oriented.
We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19 NKJV). Do we obey God just to escape the consequences for our sin, or to avoid bringing grief to a kind and merciful God? The former way causes us to follow him out of compulsion, the latter out of love.
Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing