Then spoke the chief butler to Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:…
No single power or faculty of man escaped damage at the Fall: while the affections were polluted, the will was made perverse, the judgment was shifted from its proper balance, and the memory lost much of its power and more of its integrity. Our memories, like ourselves, have done the things which they ought not to have done, and have left undone the things which they ought to have done, and there is no health in them. Among other things, it is not always easy to recollect our faults We have special and particular reasons for not wishing to be too often reminded of them. If, however, the grace of God has entered into a man he will pray that he may remember his faults, and he will ask grace that if he should forget any excellences which he once supposed he had, he may not forget his defects, his sins, his infirmities, and his transgressions, but may have them constantly before him, that he may be humbled by them and led to seek pardon for them and help to overcome them.
I. We shall first call your attention to the BUTLER'S FAULTS, for his faults are ours, only ours are on a larger scale: "I do remember my faults this day." His particular fault was that he had forgotten Joseph; that, having promised to remember him when it should be well with him, he had altogether overlooked the circumstances which occurred in the prison, and had been enjoying himself, and leaving his friend to pine in obscurity.
1. Here, then, is the first fault — the butler had forgotten a friend. That is never a thing to be said in a man's praise. We ought to write the deeds of friendship as much as possible in marble; and that man is unworthy of esteem who can readily forget favours received. As I never shall forget when, at the foot of the Cross, I saw the interpretation of all my inward griefs; when I looked up and saw the flowing of my Saviour's precious blood, and had the great riddle all unriddled. My brethren, what a discovery was that when we learned the secret that we were to be saved not by what we were or were to be, but saved by what Christ had done for us I Happy day I we see Jesus as the cluster crushed until the heart's blood flows, and can by faith go in unto the King, with Jesus Christ's own precious blood and offer that, just as the butler stood before Pharaoh with the wine-cup in his hand, I bear a cup filled not with my blood, but His blood: not the blood from me as a cluster of the vine of earth, but the blood of Jesus as a cluster of heaven's own vintage, pouring out its precious floods to make glad the heart of God and man.
2. Here lies our fault: that we have forgotten all this — not forgotten the fact, but forgotten to love Him who gave us that soul-comforting, heart-cheering interpretation.
3. We have not, however, quite done with the case of the butler and Joseph. The request which Joseph made of the butler was a very natural one. He said, "Think of me when it is well with thee." He asked no hard, difficult, exacting favour, but simply, "Think of me, and speak to Pharaoh." What the Saviour asks of us, His servants, is most natural and most simple, and quite as much for our good as it is for His glory. Among other things, He has said to all of you who love Him, "This do in remembrance of Me."
4. I have stated the butler's case, but I shall want to pause a minute or two over this head just to go into the reason of his fault. Why was it that he did not recollect Joseph? There is always a reason for everything, if we do but try to find out. He must have been swayed by one of the three reasons.
(1) Perhaps the butler was naturally ungrateful. We do not know, but that may have been the case: he may have been a person who could receive unbounded favours without a due sense of obligation. I trust that is not our case in the fullest and most unmitigated sense, but I am afraid we must all plead guilty in a measure.
(2) Perhaps, however, worldly care choked the memory. The chief butler had a great deal to do: he had many under-servants, and, having to wait in a palace, much care was required. He who serves a despot like the king of Egypt must be very particular in his service. It is very possible that the butler was so busy with his work and his gains, and looking after his fellow-servants and all that, that he forgot poor Joseph. Is it not very possible that this may be the case with us? We forget the Lord Jesus to whom we are bound by such ties, because our business is so large, our family so numerous, our cares so pressing, our bills and bonds so urgent, and even because perhaps our gains are so large.
(3) I am half ashamed to have to say one thing more. I am afraid that the butler forgot Joseph out of pride; because he had grown such a great man, and Joseph was in prison. I do not suppose that this operates with many of you, but I have known it with some professed believers. When they were little in Israel, when they first professed to have found peace, oh how they acknowledged Jesus! But they got on in the world and prospered, and then they could not worship among those poor people who were good enough for them once — they now drive to a more fashionable place of worship, where the Lord Jesus is seldom heard of. They feel themselves bound to get into a higher class of society, as they call it, and the poor despised cause of Jesus is beneath them, forgetting, as they foolishly do, that the day will come when Christ's cause shall be uppermost; when the world shall go down and the faithful followers of the Lord Jesus shall 'be peers and princes even in this world, and reign with Him; He being King of kings and Lord of lords, and they sitting upon His throne and sharing in His royal dignity. I hope none of you have forgotten Christ because of that.
II. The second point is this — WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES BROUGHT THE FAULT TO THE BUTLER'S MIND? The same circumstances which surround us this morning
1. First, he met with a person in the same condition as that in which he once was. King Pharaoh had dreamed a dream, and wished for an interpretation. Joseph could interpret; and the butler remembered his fault. Brothers and sisters in Christ, there are those in the world who are in the same state of mind as you were once in. They once loved sin and hated God, and were strangers and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel; but in some of them there has been the mysterious working of the Holy Spirit, and they have dreamed a dream. They are awakened, although not yet enlightened. Salvation is a riddle to them at present, and they want the interpretation. Do you not remember how the gospel was blessed to you? Do you not desire to send it to others? If you cannot preach yourself, will you not help me in my life-work of training others to preach Jesus?
2. The next thing that recalled the butler's thought was this: he saw that many means had been used to interpret Pharaoh's dream, but they had all failed. We read that Pharaoh sent for his wise men, but they could not interpret his dream. You are in a like case. Do not you feel a want, if you cannot go and preach yourselves, to help others to do so?
3. Then, again, if the butler could have known it, he had other motives for remembering Joseph. It was through Joseph that the whole land of Egypt was blessed. Joseph comes out of prison, and interprets the dream which God had given to the head of the state, and that interpretation preserved all Egypt, yea, and all other nations during seven years of dearth. Only Joseph could do it. Oh, brethren, you know that it is only Jesus who is the balm of Gilead, for the wounds of this poor dying world. You know that there is nothing which can bless our land, and all other lands, like the Cross of Jesus Christ.
4. Once more, surely the butler would have remembered Joseph had he known to what an exaltation Joseph would be brought. Think of the splendour which yet wilt surround our Lord Jesus I He shall come, beloved, He shall come in the chariots of salvation. The day draweth nigh when all things shall be put under Him. Kings shall yield their crowns to His superior sway, and whole sheaves of sceptres, plucked from tyrants' hands, shall be gathered beneath His arm. You by testifying of Him are promoting the extension of His kingdom, and doing the best that in you lies to gather together the scattered who are to be the jewels of His crown.
III. In the "last place, I have some few things to say by way of COMMENDATION OF THE BUTLER'S REMEMBRANCE. It is a pity he forgot Joseph, but it is a great blessing that he did not always forget him. It is a sad thing that you and I should have done so little; it is a mercy that there is time left for us to do more.
1. I like the butler's remembrance, first of all, because it was very humbling to him.
2. I commend his remembrance for another thing, namely, that it was so personal. "I do remember my faults this day." What capital memories we have for treasuring up other people's faults, for once let us keep to ourselves. Let the confession begin with the minister. "I do remember my faults this day."
3. The best part of it, perhaps, was the practical nature of the confession. The moment he remembered his fault, he redressed it as far as he could, Now, dear friends, if you recollect your fault to the Lord Jesus, may you have grace not to fall into it again! If you have not spoken for Him, speak to-day. If you have not given to His cause, give now I If you have not devoted yourselves as you ought to have done to the promotion of His kingdom, do it now.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day: