The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
November 13, 2011
1) Analogies Between Joseph and Jesus (Tom Edwards)
Analogies Between Joseph and Jesus
by Tom Edwards
Throughout the Old Testament, we can read of various shadows and
types that represent things that were yet to come. For
example, in John 3:14,15, the "bronze serpent" of Numbers 21:4-9 is
cited as something that prefigured our Savior's death on the
cross. For Jesus states in this former passage, "And as Moses
lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man
be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal
life." With the bronze serpent, there was a cure for those who
had been bitten by deadly serpents, if they would look to it.
In the cross of Christ, there is a cure for those who have been
affected by the deadly sting of sin, for those who will look to
Jesus by faith and submission to His gospel plan of salvation.
Even some people in the Old Testament have been used to foreshadow
others who were yet to come. Elijah, for example, is used to
figuratively represent John the Baptist, when we read Malachi 4:5,6
coupled with Matthew 11:12-14. For John the Baptist was that
"Elijah" whom the Lord had promised to send. It is also said
of John that he had come "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke
1:17). So there were similarities in these two servants of
In the life of Joseph (as recorded in Genesis 37, 39-50), we see
many events that tend to remind us of similar occurrences that took
place in the life of Christ. Let us consider some of these.
First, notice how they were both treated by their own brethren:
In the case of Joseph, it appears that his brothers were very
jealous and embittered toward him. They hated him (cf. Gen.
37:3,4), and hearing his prophetic dreams caused them to hate him
even more (vv. 5-8). Let us also remind ourselves that
Joseph's brothers were the children of Israel -- literally.
For they were the sons of Jacob (who was also given the name
"Israel") and the great grandsons of Abraham to whom the nation
promise was given (Gen. 12:1,2; 13:16).
As we think on these things, let us also now reflect upon similar
treatments that Jesus experienced.
One of the first things that the apostle John brings out concerning
the life of Christ, in John 1:11, after expressing the deity of the
Lord and His role in the creation, is that, "He came to His own, and
those who were His own did not receive Him." Though it is true
that all of us owe are existence to the Lord Jesus Christ --
regardless of race or nationality -- the "His own" in this passage
is referring specifically to the Jewish race that Christ was born
into, which was that same race that Joseph had been part of (though
the term "Jew" did not come into use until hundreds of years after
Joseph's time). How sad that this rejection is what
characterized so many individuals toward the Lord.
In the beginning, not even the Lord's half brothers were believing
in him (John 7:3-5). Of course, later, we do read of some of
them not only believing in Him, but who had also become Christians
and servants of the Lord. Jude, who wrote the book of Jude,
was one of the Lord's half brothers. And so was James -- not
the apostle James, but the writer of the book of James who had also
become a prominent member of the church in Jerusalem, as the Bible
We also can see a change in attitude of the brothers of Joseph after
he revealed himself to them in Egypt many years later. So that
is another similarity.
But who appears to have been the most opposed to Jesus were the
highly religious leaders of that time. Matthew states in
26:3,4: "Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were
gathered together in the court of the high priest, named
Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth
and kill Him." So their intentions toward the Lord were
murderous. Consider also John 19:14-16, in which many Jews had
cried out for Jesus to be crucified. This rejection had been
prophesied by Isaiah 700 years before Jesus was born in the
manger. Isaiah 53:3 states, "He was despised and forsaken of
men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from
whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem
Him." Isaiah goes on to foretell the crucifixion of Christ in
this same chapter: "...He was pierced through for our
transgressions..." (v. 5). Psalm 22 is also another Messianic
passage of Christ's suffering at Calvary, about a thousand years
before the actual event: "...They pierced my hands and my feet" (v.
16). Notice specifically verses 6-8 and 11-18.
What are some other similarities between Joseph and Jesus?
Both were betrayed and sold to others.
Genesis 37:23,24,28 records this event in Joseph's life. It's
difficult to imagine family members doing this to one of their
own. What an intense hatred they had toward their brother
Joseph; and had it not been for Reuben and Judah, Joseph would most
likely have been killed (Gen. 37:18-22, 26,27). But it was bad
enough that they actually sold their own brother to some Ishmaelites
for "twenty shekels of silver" (Gen. 37:28).
Matthew brings out, in Matthew 26:14-16 and 47-49, a similar event
in the life of Christ. Judas betrayed Jesus for "thirty pieces
of silver" (v. 15). Judas, of course, was not the only one
guilty of delivering up the Lord. For many of the Jews also
did a similar thing when Pilate gave them a choice to release either
Jesus or Barabbas (Matt. 27:15-26). Barabbas had been "a
notorious prisoner" (Matt. 27:16), a "robber" (John 18:40), an
insurrectionist (Luke 23:19), and a murderer (Mark 15:7). The
"chief priests and the elders had persuaded the crowds to ask for
Barabbas and to put Jesus to death" (Matt. 27:20). Consider
what the apostle Peter says about this: "The God of Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus,
the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate,
when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy
and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but
put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the
dead, a fact to which we are witnesses" (Acts 3:13-15).
Both Joseph and Jesus had been falsely accused.
We read about this event in Joseph's life in Genesis 39:12-15.
The false charge of Potiphar's wife led to Joseph being imprisoned
for 2 years -- and which would have probably been much longer, if it
were not for his interpretation of Pharaoh's dream.
Though it was only Potiphar's wife who had falsely accused Joseph,
Jesus had various false witnesses; and that was exactly what many of
the religious leaders of that day wanted. For example, Matthew
26:59 states, "Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept
trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might
put Him to death." Verse 60 states that "many false
witnesses came forward."
So both Joseph and Jesus suffered -- even though they were innocent.
As we noted in the case of Joseph, he was incarcerated -- though
having not committed any crime (Gen. 39:19,20).
In the case of Jesus, various sufferings were inflicted upon
Him. According to Luke 22:63-65, He was mocked, beaten, and
blasphemed. Matthew 27:26 speaks of the scourging that Jesus
underwent. It was performed as a preliminary to crucifixion;
but was so severe that it would sometimes lead to death. For
it is said that the whips used had about three strands at their ends
that included chunks of metals that would gouge into the soft flesh,
causing terrible lacerations.
Jesus was also spit upon and slapped in the face, according to Mark
In addition, though not mentioned in the New Testament, Isaiah 50:6
foretells that the Lord's beard would be plucked; and this verse
also shows the Lord's willingness to submit to all of that. It
says, "I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those
who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation
All of this suffering was inflicted upon Jesus, yet He was
completely innocent. As the Hebrew declares, "For we do not
have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but
One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin"
Of course, Jesus had to be innocent in order to make the atonement
as the spotless Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the
world (Heb. 9:11-14) -- and that was the kind of life He
maintained. Even Pilate had to confess to the Jews, who were
intent on seeing Jesus put to death, that, "I find no guilt in Him"
So far, we have seen similar trials in the lives of Joseph and
Jesus; let us now briefly consider how they were able to endure such
According to Genesis 39:2-4, the Lord was with Joseph, which
indicates that he had maintained a right relationship with
God. So that is the key! Even after being falsely
accused and serving time for it in prison, Joseph still strove to
maintain a right relationship with the Lord; and, as a result, God
blessed him (Gen. 39:21-23).
Jesus, too, maintained a harmonious relationship with His Father --
and always did so to a perfect degree. It is in John 8:28,29
where the Lord explains why He was continually with the
Father. Jesus says, "...When you lift up the Son of Man, then
you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative,
but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who
sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the
things that are pleasing to Him.'"
Not only did Jesus speak His Father's message, but He also performed
miracles that indicated that He was in the Father and the Father was
in Him (Jn. 14:10,11; Jn. 3:2).
Because of the Lord's obedient life -- even to the point of death on
a cross -- God the Father exalted Jesus to His right hand in heaven,
where He now has all power in heaven and on earth (Phil. 2:5-11;
Eph. 1:18-23; Rev. 17:14).
As we near the end of our lesson, consider the similar purposes we
see in God's use of Joseph, and in God's use of Jesus.
According to Genesis 45:5-8, God used Joseph to preserve life.
For by interpreting Pharaoh's dream, Joseph was able to inform of
the seven years of plenty that would be followed by seven years of
famine. With that knowledge, they could now stock up and
prepare for that time to come.
But while the life Joseph preserved, with the food that was made
available, pertained to just the temporary, physical outward man,
Jesus also has a "food" to give -- but that which will enable a
person's soul to live forever in heaven. He states, in John
6:51, "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone
eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which
I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh." We
eat of this "bread" by taking heed to God's word (cf. Matt. 4:4; Jn.
4:32-34), and the Lord did come that we "...may have life, and have
it abundantly" (Jn. 10:10).
God is a caring and merciful being who is very concerned for every
As God's children strive to be more like their Father in heaven,
they also develop more of these traits. Joseph, for example,
was very loving, concerned, and forgiving toward even his brothers
who had treated him so wrongfully (Gen. 45:1-5,14,15). What a
wonderful and magnanimous disposition he had.
How much more so we see these qualities in the life of Jesus
Christ. While pouring out His life's blood on the cross of
Calvary and being mocked by the spectators, Jesus prayed,
"...'Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are
doing'" (Luke 23:34). Over a people who had rejected Him and
were heading for destruction, Jesus had wept because He knew what
their outcome would be; and He had longed to gather them together
the way a hen would its brood, but they were unwilling to come to
Him (Luke 19:41-44; 13:34). The Lord truly wants none to
perish, but all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9); but that is a
choice that only the individual can make.
It was because of Joseph's maintaining a right relationship with God
that the Lord was with Joseph and blessed him -- even providentially
having Joseph exalted to the very high position of authority that
Pharaoh gave him. For Joseph was given authority over all the
land of Egypt that everyone would be in subjection to him (Gen.
41:40-44). The one exception to that would be Pharaoh himself,
whom Joseph was made second to.
This now brings us to a final comparison. For because of His
obedient life, His sacrificial death, His resurrection, and His
ascension back to the right hand of God, Jesus was given a supreme
position of authority over all things in heaven and on earth (Col.
1:18; Eph. 1:18-23; Dan. 7:13,14). Of course, the One who is
exempt from this is God the Father (1 Cor.
May these glimpses of Joseph and Jesus be an encouragement to us in
our own walk with the Lord. May we also always maintain a
right relationship with Him, regardless of how the world might treat
us. For it is in faithful service that we show our love to
God, please Him, and make our "calling and election sure" (2 Pet.
1:10,11). And if you have not yet begun this kind of
relationship with the Lord, won't you do so today?
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
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evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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