Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. What, in your opinion, is insufficient about each of these apologies? I’m sorry (that you feel that way). I’m sorry (that I got caught). I’m sorry (but what’s done is done).
2. What constitutes a sincere apology? Give an example of a time when you knew an apology offered to you was sincere.
Read Genesis 37:26, 27.
1. Sometimes people justify wrongdoing by thinking, “He deserved it.” What was Joseph’s offense in the eyes of his brothers? See verses 5-11, 17-20.
2. Another excuse for wrongdoing is to believe that the offense is not that bad. How did Judah justify his actions in this way?
Read Genesis 44:17-29.
3. To whom was Joseph referring when he spoke of making the one found with the cup his slave (vv. 11-16)? Can Judah’s attitude best be described as “casting blame” or as “accepting blame?” Explain.
4. Underline the words servant and lord in these verses. How does this humility contrast with the “old Judah” who sold Joseph into slavery?
Read Genesis 44:30-34.
5. Earlier, Joseph’s brothers were furious with the suggestion that they would someday bow before him (37:8). When that day arrived (although they didn’t know it at the time), show how Judah’s words reflected more of a concern for the feelings of others rather than for his own pride.
6. True stories in Scripture often point to an even greater event that would happen in the distant future. How do you think Judah’s offer on behalf of Benjamin is related to these verses: Mark 10:45; Romans 3:25; Revelation 5:5, 9?
7. What is the difference between sorrow and repentance? How does Judah’s offer help explain the difference? Think of a wrong you have done. How can you demonstrate repentance rather than merely mouthing the words, “I’m sorry”?