Last week I mentioned about how the bible shows the flaws of all the major biblical characters. It shows that they are human just like we are. In today’s study we look at just such a character. He is a shadow of Christ and as we will see, there are many similarities. But there are also many differences. Joseph started off quite unlike the humble character of Jesus. In fact he was a bit of a spoiled brat! So much so that his own brothers wanted to get rid of him. We see though how God shaped and moulded him into the type of man that God could use, so that in the end he was a lot more like Jesus than how he had started.
So let’s look at the ways that Joseph’s life shadowed Jesus’s;
- Both were loved by their fathers
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. (Genesis 37:3)
and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
The difference being that Joseph’s love was human and limited. God’s love is not favouritism but perfect.
- Joseph was hated by his brothers and Jesus was hated by the religious establishment who didn’t understand him
But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. (Genesis 37:4)
If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ (John 15:24-25)
We see in both cases that hatred proceeded from jealousy.
- The ones who hated them conspired to put them to death
They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. (Genesis 37:18)
The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. (Mark 3:6)
- They were both promised rulership
Joseph via a dream: Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (Genesis 37:9)
Jesus through prophecy and scripture: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder (Isaiah 9:6)
- They were both cast into the ground
Joseph was cast into a pit: And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. (Genesis 37:24) this shadows Jesus’ descent into Hades after His death and before His resurrection: Therefore it says,“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4:8-10)
- They were both sold for similar amounts of silver
Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt. (Genesis 37:28)
and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15)
- They were both falsely accused
she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. (Genesis 39:12-14)
For many bore false witness against him (Jesus), but their testimony did not agree. (Mark 14:56)
- When in prison, Joseph was placed between 2 prisoners, one was pardoned and the other condemned. On the cross, Jesus was placed between 2 criminals. One was pardoned the other was not.
- They were both marked by forgiveness
Joseph forgave his brothers and demonstrated that forgiveness years later:
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:15-21)
Jesus forgave those who had caused His suffering
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
There are many more similarities that people have found, but these are the main ones.