I will assume many who are reading this are familiar with the story of Joseph, the butler and the baker. In short, the butler and the baker, who were in prison with Joseph for having offended the King of Egypt (see verses 1-3), had dreams which they couldn’t interpret so Joseph interpreted them (verses 5-13). The butler’s dream foretold his release from prison and how he would be getting his old job back with Pharaoh. Verse 14 goes on to say, “But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house” (NKJV).

There are some who would fault Joseph for the reason you cited, saying Joseph should have simply “waited patiently on the Lord” and in His good time He would have Joseph released. It is true a believer should have patience, especially during times of tribulation. James 1:2-4 states “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” To support this view we learn in verse 23 that “the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” In time the butler DID REMEMBER JOSEPH, but it was a full two years later (41:1-13).

There are others who believe Joseph did NOT fail in his request, saying it was quite reasonable for Joseph to ask a favor of the man that he had just blessed by interpreting his dream. Regarding the butler’s failure to remember Joseph, it is precious to see that Joseph did not start murmuring and complaining. His faith in the Lord remained constant, so in truth he did “patiently wait upon the Lord” for His perfect timing. When he was released, God used him again to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and then God rewarded him abundantly by elevating him to Pharaoh’s right hand. Joseph was then looked upon by all of Egypt as a savior and Pharaoh commanded everyone to “bow the knee” to Joseph (41:14-45). In all of this Joseph remained humble and gave all the glory to God.

I believe the second view is the correct one. If you study the life of Joseph it is remarkable that there is not any record of Joseph sinning. If the first view was the right one then this would be the only instance where Joseph failed. I’m not implying that Joseph never sinned; I’m simply saying God chose not to record any of Joseph’s sins. Why would God do that? Ah, I believe that Joseph’s faithful life, his rejection by his brethren, followed by suffering and then being exalted to Pharaoh’s throne, is a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, who was also rejected by His brethren (see John 1:11), followed by Him being crucified and then exalted to the right hand of God (and in time “every knee shall bow to Him”).

In closing, I also believe Joseph’s request foreshadows a request made by the Lord Jesus. In Luke 22:19-20 we read, “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.’ Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you’.” Joseph had said, “Remember me when it is well with you.” Jesus is saying to all who have been saved through the laying down of His life and the shedding of His blood, “Remember Me.” Every believer can say, “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL,” for we have been blessed with “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). We have forgiveness of sins, eternal life, a home in heaven, and countless other blessings because the Lord Jesus willingly took our place in death and judgment on the cross. The Lord Jesus had every right to make that one request to us, “This do in remembrance of Me.” Are you, dear fellow-believer, responding to that request, or are you like the butler who “forgot Joseph?” (315.1) (DO)