Joseph was the first born
son of Rachael, Jacob's favorite wife. Jacob loved
Rachael, but married Leah through the deception of
her father (Genesis 29).
There was already a house
of siblings by the time Joseph arrived, sons of
Jacob and Leah. The antagonism of being the favored
son grew into outright hate by the time he was a
teenager. One day Joseph suggested the idea that in
a dream he saw them along with his father and mother
bowing down to him! When he was seventeen Jacob sent
Joseph to the fields to check on his brothers. They
saw him coming and determined to kill him. His
oldest brother Reuben interceded and threw him in a
pit hoping to rescue him later. While he was gone
the other brothers saw an Ishmaelite caravan passing
by and sold Joseph as slave to them. They killed a
goat, dipped Joseph's coat in blood and told their
father that they had found the blood-soaked coat.
They let him conclude that a wild animal had killed
his favorite son.
Ancient rabbis saw in
Joseph a type of the coming of the Messiah. They
distinguished the difference between the reigning
sovereign king Messiah and the suffering Messiah.
The future sovereign king they called Messiah ben
David, and the suffering Messiah they called Messiah
ben Joseph. Many noted scholars have drawn the
comparisons between the life of Joseph and Jesus the
Messiah. Without getting fanciful and flighty let's
examine some highlights and comparisons of these two
Joseph and Jesus
were both loved by their fathers.
Genesis 37:3 says, "Now
Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons . . ."
Jacob's love for Joseph is demonstrated overwhelming
in his grieving of his "dead" son.
On three occasions in the
life of Jesus there was the clear testimony of the
Heavenly Father's love for His Son. The Father
declares Jesus to be His Son. "This is My beloved
Son, in whom I am well-pleased" (Matthew 3:17).
Jesus testified to that love saying, "The Father
loves the Son and has given all things into His
hand" (John 3:35). In John 5:20 Jesus said, "For the
Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that
He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him
greater works than these, so that you will marvel."
Joseph and Jesus
were both hated by their brothers.
Regarding Joseph Moses
wrote, "And his brothers saw that their father loved
him more than all his brothers, so they hated him
and could not speak to him on friendly terms"
(Genesis 37:4). This hatred provoked their evil plan
to kill him.
Jesus came unto His own
and His own rejected Him. Jesus observed the
following behavior toward him by the members of His
own nation. He said, "He who hates Me hates My
Father also. If I had not done among them the works
which no one else did, they would not have sin; but
now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father
as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word
that is written in their Law, 'They hated Me without
a cause'" (John 15:23-25). On another occasion,
while Jesus was teaching, someone said, "Look, your
brothers and sisters and mother have come for you."
Jesus responded with a gesture by saying those who
were His true mother, brothers and sisters were
those who listened to Him and believed His words.
His own brothers in the flesh did not believe in Him
until after He was raised from the dead.
Joseph and Jesus were
both conspired upon by their enemies to be put to
The brothers of Joseph
saw him approaching from a distance and "before he
came close to them, they plotted against him to put
him to death" (Genesis 37:18).
You don't read very long
into the Gospel accounts until you encounter the
enemies of Jesus seeking to put Him to death. After
watching Jesus heal on the Sabbath his enemies, "the
Pharisees went out and immediately began taking
counsel with the Herodians against Him, as to how
they might destroy Him" (Mark 3:6).
Although Joseph was not
put to death, he was accounted for dead by his
father. He was presumed dead based upon the news
from his brothers and the blood stained robe. They
told their father, "We have found this; please
examine it to see whether it is your son's tunic or
not." Joseph examined it, and said, "It is my son's
tunic." Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his
loins and mourned for his son many days. It was
taken for granted by his father that Joseph was
Jesus, on the other hand,
actually died and was buried. History proves this
fact. The historian wrote: "And when they had
crucified Him, they divided up His garments among
themselves by casting lots. . . At that time two
robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right
and one on the left" (Matthew 27:35, 37). Roman
soldiers certified to Pilate that Jesus was actually
dead before he would release the body for proper
burial (Mark 15:44-45). Roman soldiers guarded the
entrance to the tomb. No man, dead or alive, could
have entered or left that tomb without their
knowledge of it.
Jesus and Joseph
were both recognized after their deaths.
Joseph was understood to
be dead for 21 years, and when Joseph's brothers
went to Egypt looking for food, he was waiting for
them. However, he was not waiting for vengeance, but
in anticipation to give them food and deliver them
from their famine. He was their savior after 21
years of being assumed dead.
Jesus' own brothers and
members of the family of Israel recognized Him,
after His resurrection from the dead. "They saw Him
and worshiped Him." Two of His disciples recognized
Him on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:31-39). Thomas
emphatically declared that he would not believe in
the resurrection until he saw Jesus with his own
eyes, and put his hands into the nail prints and
reached into His side. That very same Thomas stood
in the physical presence of Jesus and exclaimed, "My
Lord and my God" (John 20:24-31).
Another agnostic gave his
testimony after seeing Jesus. "For I delivered to
you as of first importance what I also received,
that Christ died for our sins according to the
Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was
raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
After that He appeared to more than five hundred
brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now,
but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to
James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as
to one untimely born, He appeared to me also" (1
Corinthians 15:3-8). The implication is, if you
don't believe me, ask these witnesses. Most of them
were still alive at the time Paul was writing his
letter to the Corinthians.
Many more comparisons can
be made, but hopefully these will whet your
spiritual appetite. With the Apostle Peter we can
proclaim, "There is salvation in no one else; for
there is no other name under heaven that has been
given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts
The apostle Paul tells us
why the innocent sufferer had to die. "He [God] made
Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in
Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). It reminds us of
the suffering predicted by the Hebrew prophet Isaiah
when he wrote, "Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves
esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and
afflicted. But He was pierced through for our
transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities;
the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and
by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep
have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own
way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him." (Isaiah 53:4-6).
Jesus Christ was the
innocent suffer dying for the guilty. It was not
because He had committed some crime or was paying
for His own sins. He never experienced personal
sins. He died as a substitute on the cross to pay
our sin debt. "The wages of sin is death . . ."
(Romans 6:23a). But this suffer died to give life
eternal. Yes, "The wages of sins is death, but the
free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our
Lord" (Romans 6:23). God was satisfied in the
innocent suffering of His Son. He was the lamb that
takes away the sin of the world. His suffering
enabled Him to become our Savior. He now sustains us
with the bread of eternal life every day.
It is all of grace. "We
love Him, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
What is your response to such an outpouring of love?
When God came to us in the person of His Son, our
response was to kill Him. But He kept on coming.
There is no greater love than this. There is no
greater suffering servant that our great God and
37-50 Messiah ben Joseph
Christ in the Old Testament