The complete history of Jesus’ ministry in Joseph’s story.

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Joseph and brothersThe Sci-fi writer and gnostic theologiser Philip K Dick once helped an African man in a petrol station, I dont know the details of the encounter, but there was something about it that led Philip K Dick to believe it was a re-interpretation of the story of Philip meeting the Ethopian on the road to Gaza, (Acts 8).

It is one of the wonderful mysteries of our life in Christ that so often we find events in our own lives reflect something Jesus has already gone through. But salvation has always been by faith in Jesus and so, not suprisingly, those that had that faith (even when they lived before they could know His name) found that the events of their lives pre-figured Jesus’ life and history. And Joseph is someone for whom this is true in a really big way.

The name “Jesus” or “ישוע” appears cryptically twice at the end of Joseph’s story, but that is another post. Here I just want to highlight the typological parallels between Joseph and Jesus. I think Philip K Dick could have turned this into a great short story.

Broadly we can see Jesus whole history in the big brush strokes of Joseph’s life:

  • A late-born, favoured son, who is rejected, plotted against and “killed” by his family Israel, in co-operation with the Gentiles in the shape of the Ishmaelite/Midianite traders and the Egyptians.
  • Slaves don’t live long so his brothers don’t realise that Joseph goes through a resurrection and ascension to the right hand of power, but the “gentiles” do. Joseph gives bread to the whole world and saves it from starvation.
  • In his ascended position he meets his own brothers who still don’t recognise him, but he secretly looks after them with material wealth.
  • Finally Joseph’s truth is revealed to them and he is acknowledged and worshiped by his brothers.

So that’s the big picture, but there are lots of points of connection between Joseph’s story and Jesus’ in the detail too. The table below lists the significant parallels.


Genesis
Reference
ParallelNT
Reference
Genesis 37:2
Joseph was A shepherd of his father's sheep, as was Jesus.John 10:11, 27
Genesis 37:3
Joseph was loved by his father as Jesus was loved by the Father.Matthew 3:17
Genesis 37:4
Both were rejected by their brothers. John 7:5
Genesis 37:13, 14Joseph was sent by his father with a message for his brother. Jesus was sent by the Father to his own.Hebrews 2:11
Genesis 37:20
Both were plotted against...John 11:53
Genesis 37:23
... and had their robes taken from themJohn 19:23
Genesis 37:25
Both were taken to EgyptMatthew 2:14, 15
Genesis 37:28Both were sold for the price of a slave.Matthew 26:15
Genesis 39:7Both were temptedMatthew 4:1
Genesis 39:16-18Both were falsely accused...Matthew 26:59, 60
Genesis 39:20...and bound in chains.Matthew 27:2
Genesis 40:2, 3Both were "punished" with two others, one of whom was "saved" and the other "lost".Luke 23:32
Genesis 41:41Both were raised up after their suffering.Philippians 2:9-11
Genesis 41:46Both were about 30 when they started their public ministry.Luke 3:23
Genesis 45:1-15Both forgave those that wronged them.Luke 23:34
Genesis 45:7Both were Saviours of their people (and of the whole World)Matthew 1:21
Genesis 50:20
What Joseph recognised in his own story was ultimately more true in Jesus': what men had worked for evil, God turned for good.Corinthians 2:7, 8

The more I explore people-types in the Old Testament and pastorally hear and experience how we find Christ in all sorts and types of experiences the more and more convinced I am of the importance of the mystery of “Christ in us”.

© 2019

Christen Forster

Christen Forster is widely recognised as an original Bible teacher who brings people into a love of and confidence in scripture.

Christen has planted churches, been a youth worker, mission administrator and church leaders. The author of several books, Christen is now an itinerant minister, helping churches to step into a more deliberately spiritual experience of the Christian life while at the same time firmly rooting their practice in scripture.

© 2000 - 2019 Christen Forster
Christen Forster

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