Caring, Serving, Hoping (verses 1-8)
Because kings often feared being poisoned, their lives were entrusted to the cupbearer and baker to make sure their food was safe to eat. A close relationship often resulted, providing a certain political power for the cupbearer and baker. At some point, however, these two men had offended (i.e., sinned against) the king, and they were now imprisoned with probable cause. Joseph, on the other hand, is in prison for refusing to sin against his Master and God.
While in prison, Joseph is still exercising his gift and has been elevated to a position of authority over other prisoners. He refuses to allow his circumstances to negatively affect him. Rather than becoming dejected or disillusioned, Joseph stays committed to the Lord and to serving Him. The fact that the captain of the bodyguard has put Joseph in charge of the king’s cupbearer and baker is no coincidence. Neither is it a coincidence that both the cupbearer and the baker have dreams on the same night. Instead, it is a glimpse of hope as God’s providence arranges things in such a way that the king would find out about Joseph’s false imprisonment. Both of the men are dejected following their dream, and even though Joseph is a prisoner himself, he makes the effort to observe their dejected faces and ask why they are so sad.
Cupbearer’s Dream (verses 9-15)
The cupbearer’s dream consists of a three-branch vine that produces grapes, which are processed into wine, which is provided for the king. Joseph interprets the dream and explains that in three days the cupbearer will be restored. His only request, having interpreted the dream, is that the cupbearer remember him in order to tell the king of his innocence. It seems that Joseph is only now informing them about his innocence, which suggests that he has apparently never before complained to them about his life and how it was he became imprisoned.
Cake Baker’s Dream (verses 16-19)
In light of the similarities between his dream and the cupbearer’s, as well as the promising interpretation Joseph has given the cupbearer, the baker surely has high hopes for the interpretation of his own dream. However, rather than having his head lifted up and being restored like the cupbearer, the baker’s head will be lifted up from him and he will be eaten by the birds. Though the interpretation is not good news for the baker, Joseph is faithful to tell him exactly what the dream means. In our day and age, Joseph would be considered so unkind both in his interpretation and delivery. Ours is a world where the faithful courage to honestly warn others is scorned. The church in our day could use a few more courageous and faithful truth-tellers.
King’s Birthday (verses 20-23)
As Joseph had said, the cupbearer is pardoned and restored, while the baker is executed by hanging. Joseph, however, is forgotten. The cupbearer says nothing to Pharaoh about him. Hope is on hold for Joseph—not because of some new suffering or circumstance, but simply the same old thing, dragging on.
- Joseph has enough problems of his own, but rather than dwelling on the seemingly miserable spiral of his life, he shows care and concern for his fellow prisoners. A helpful technique for handling difficult circumstances is simply to serve others and stop being self-absorbed. People are needy and hurting all around you and you must not allow your concerns to be all-consuming. How do you handle your own discouragement? How might you move past any self-absorption today and express care and love to others who are hurting?
- Sometimes in our lives, it can seem like our circumstances are a never-ending cycle of hopelessness. We might experience the betrayal of coworkers, be let down by family members, or have friends disappoint us. The repetition of these sorts of things may lead to the loss of hope over the course of a slow, gradual deflation, day by day, year after year. Yet, we must not forget our great salvation (c.f. 1 Peter 1:9). The Lord’s Supper is one of the means that Jesus has provided in order to prevent us from forgetfulness. When we take the Lord’s Supper together, we do so in remembrance of Jesus. Take time today to remember and consider the unchanging hope of belonging to Jesus.