Joseph

The Righteous

Have you ever wondered why bad things to you? Have you ever questioned God’s goodness? Questioned God’s kindness and love for you? William Cowper was a wonderful English poet and hymn writer who also deeply struggled with depression. Cowper’s poetry helped him process the pain and emotional angst in his life. He did not always understand why his life was so hard; why he felt alone, depressed and forgotten. Cowper lost his mother at the age of six and was sent to a boarding school by his father. He lost his mother and virtually his father in short period of time. Although he never fully recovered emotionally, Cowper came to see that God was with him in the midst of the valley of despair. He wrote this beautiful hymn, God Moves in Mysterious Ways,

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

 

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

 

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

 

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

 

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

 

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

 

Cowper came to interpret his pain and trials through the sovereign plan and purposes of God.

            Joseph would learn to interpret life the same way. Joseph was stripped of his robe and his special relationship with his father. He was forsaken by his brothers and sold into slavery. The narrative does not also share Joseph’s thoughts, but we can imagine his struggle. I pray that you will interpret the joys and trials of your life through the sovereign purpose and presence of God.

The Lord’s Righteous Servant Rises in Egypt

            Genesis 37:36, “Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar; an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.” The story continues after Moses highlights the sexual immorality of Judah and Tamar with Genesis 39:1-6a,

Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph's charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.

God would use Joseph’s pain and slavery to bless others. God was with Joseph. This is the most important and profound aspect of Joseph’s story. He was a slave in Egypt, betrayed by his family, taken from his father, but the Lord was with him.

            If we only focus on our individual lives, it will be hard for us to see the purposes of God. American Christians tend to struggle with God’s sovereignty in using our pain for the good of His Name, because of the individualism that permeates so much of our society. It is hard to see how much individualism has infected our thinking. If you were to ask a fish, “how is the water?” He would probably respond, “What water?” The fish cannot tell you about water, because he is so familiar with it. It is so intertwined with his life that it is hard for him to see it. This is the challenge facing Western Christians. We live in a society where individualism is to us as water is to a fish.

            When we read Joseph’s story focusing on Joseph, we may miss how God is using Joseph to bring about His purposes. Genesis 39:5, “From the time that he made Joseph overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field.” The repetition of the Lord’s blessing is extremely important. Remember Genesis 12:1-3, the great promise of the Bible,

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

Through the offspring of Abraham will come the blessing of all the families of the earth. Joseph’s slavery is bringing the blessing of God to Egypt.

Joseph brings the blessing of God to one Gentile family, as Jesus brings the hope of the gospel to all Gentiles, Galatians 3:13-14, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” Your ability to believe in Jesus and experience the blessings of eternal life through faith in his death and resurrection is seen here in seed-form. Do you see how God used Joseph as way not only to bless Potiphar’s house, but you and I as well?

            Do you interpret the things in your life through the plans and purposes of God? God is doing far more through our joys and trials than we realize. Trust him. God’s presence with Joseph in the valley of slavery brought God’s blessing to a wicked nation. As God’s people we can know that when God prospers us as he did Joseph in Potiphar’s house that He is with us. God is with us in our prosperity and our prosperity is not merely for us. It is for those around us. Maybe your promotion at work was primarily not for you, but was given so that you could bless others in need. Maybe the great deal you got on your house was primarily not for you, but was given so that you could be hospitable your church family. Jesus said, “Everyone whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him whom they entrusted much, they will demand more” (Luke 12:48).

            Fight against the water of individualism and see how God is blessing you for the sake of others as he did with Joseph. God uses rise of his righteous servant to bless others.

The Lord’s Righteous Servant Resists in Egypt

            Things are starting to go well for Joseph. He is now in charge of everything in the household and is honored by the master of the house, but Joseph’s righteousness will get him in trouble.

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master's wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master's wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. (Genesis 39:6-10)

Joseph is the only male in the Bible who is described as handsome and good looking.[1] Potiphar’s wife pursues Joseph and commands him to “Lie with her.” Joseph resists temptation in Egypt far different than Judah who was with Israel.

            Joseph resists the temptation to sleep with Potiphar for three reasons. First, he cannot betray his master’s trust since everything has been put in his care. Second, he cannot take his master’s wife, because that would be disobeying his master. Joseph clearly states that Potiphar has given him everything except his wife. (Not all scholars agree, but some believe that the reference to Potiphar’s appetite for food in verse 6 is a euphemism for sex). Lastly and the most important reason, to lie with her would be great wickedness and sin against God.

            The last reason is truly remarkable for there has been no indications in Joseph’s life that he has come to know the Lord. We can assume that he learned of God from Israel, his father, or God gave him further understanding of his dreams, but there is no explicit statement of his trust in the Lord. It is amazing because one would think that Joseph would not want to honor God after trials of his life. How many people do you know who turn from God in the mist of hardship? How often do we see people justify their grasping for pleasure because of hardship? The thought of being entitled to pleasure because of one’s pain is very real temptation. It manifests in numerous ways. “I have had a long hard week of work (pain) therefore I can sleep in our Sunday (pleasure).” Do you ever feel “entitled” to experience sin’s pleasure because of your trials? Again, I would this is a greater temptation for Western Christians because we swim in the cultural sea of comfort and convenience. We think that when life is hard, it is our right to experience ease from that pain. Not all ease is sin, but it is one way the evil one tempts you to sin by encouraging you to take your eyes off of God and place them on yourself.

            Joseph did not feel entitled to sin, but he resisted temptation. Notice that in Gen. 39:10, he had to resist temptation, day after day. “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Joseph’s righteousness would bring persecution.

But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 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. And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.” Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home, and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh at me. But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.”

As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. And Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. (Genesis 39:11-20)

Joseph’s righteousness led to prison. Potiphar’s wife calls Joseph a Hebrew slave insulting his race and the position in the house. As Joseph brothers used his robe to lie to his father, now Potiphar’s wife uses the garment to lie to his master.

            Have you ever been persecuted because you tried to do what was right? Joseph foreshadows the One who will resist temptation. Jesus, like Joseph, was innocent of claims brought against him. Jesus was not put into prison, but put on the cross. Jesus willingly laid down his life to be identified with sinners. Jesus endured hostility and lies from sinners like Potiphar’s wife. Potiphar’s wife was the unrighteous one, but Joseph was the one punished. But beloved, remember why Joseph was in the house, he was there so that the Lord’s blessing would come to the Egyptians as well as to his own brothers. God would use Joseph to save his brothers and to save Egypt from the famine as God would use Jesus to save his brothers, the Jews, and to save the Gentiles from death.

            Beloved, I am sure you have heard this story countless times to be encouraged to be like Joseph and to resist temptation. And we are called to resist temptation, but the only way we can resist temptation is if we align ourselves with the one who resisted temptation on our behalf.  As Gentiles, we are not Joseph in this story, but Potiphar’s wife. We are the unrighteous, adulterous people who need the promised blessing of Abraham. It is only when we repent of our sins and trust in Christ that we become one with the righteous servant who resists sin. Our Sprit-led repentance and faith bring us to Jesus. We become united with Him. Jesus overcome temptation because of the joy of honoring God and saving us. So now, we look to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. We consider him who endured hostility from sinful men so we will not grow weary or fainthearted. In our struggle against sin we have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.

Christ’s blood was shed so we would be declared righteous. We are righteous because of the mercy of God and only because the mercy of God. Jesus died so that we could be counted righteous. This is the story of Genesis. How can God save unrighteous sinners? The answer again and again is through the righteousness of the offspring of the promised seed, fulfilled in Christ. Beloved, you can resist temptation because of Christ. Christ is our example and Christ has sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts to give us the power to overcome temptation. You cannot be like Joseph and resist temptation until you turn to Christ. We must be united with Jesus. Our salvation is not bound up in our ability to resist temptation, but in our union with the One who has resisted it ultimately for us. John Murray writes,

Union with Christ is really the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation not only in its application but also in its once-for-all accomplishment in the finished work of Christ. Indeed, the whole process of salvation has its origin in one phase of union with Christ and salvation has in view the realization of other phases of union with Christ.[2]

All of salvation, justification, sanctification and glorification, begin with being united with Christ. Joseph is not our Savior, but foreshadows the great Savior who is to come. Jesus, our Savior, died for our sins and was raised for our hope. If we are united in his death through faith, we shall certainly be united in his resurrection (Romans 6:5).

The Lord’s Righteous Servant Remains in Egypt

            Joseph resisted temptation and was thrown into prison. We may view prison as a harsh treatment of a righteous action, but the penalty of Joseph’s alleged crime was death. We must interpret life through God’s purposes. 

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Joseph story continues, Genesis 39:20-23,

And Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph's charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed.

The Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love. God was with Joseph in his rise in Egypt and God was with Joseph when fell from his position in Egypt. Psalm 37:23-24, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.”

            God was not done with Joseph in Egypt. God would continue to use Joseph’s trials to bring salvation bringing to be in prison with the king’s prisoners. Beloved, God may keep you in “Egypt.” God may continue to give you tremendous trials and pain, but he has his reasons.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

 

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

 

Beloved, God is with you in your joys and God is with you in your trials. “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10) Whatever joys or trials come our way, take courage for we have our Immanuel who has given us Himself so that we will always be with him and He will always be with us.

 

[1] This point is made by Wenham who makes the connection that Joseph’s mother Rachel also receives the double honor Gen. 29:17

[2] John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955), 161.

The Slave

Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds was captured by the Nazis at the Battle of the Bulge. He along with 1,000 captives were sent to a German POW camp. As soon as the men arrived at the camp, they were questioned on their religion. At the time of the capture, the largest death camps had been liberated, but all Jewish officers were sent to a slave-labor camp where survival was also minimal. American Jewish officers were trained to destroy their dog tags upon capture so as not to reveal their Jewish heritage. As the leading non-commissioned officer, Edmonds was the first one questioned. He turned to his men right before the questioning began and told them, “We are all Jews here.”

The German commander came to Edmonds, took out a pistol, and held it to his head. He gave him one last chance to reveal the truth. With a gun held against his head, Edmonds replied, “If you are going to shoot, you are going to have to shoot all of us because we know who you are and you'll be tried for war crimes when we win this war.[1]” The German officer relented and Edmonds’ bravery saved 200 Jewish-American soldiers that day. God used the capture and courage of a soldier to save the lives of his brothers-in-arms. God has used, and will continue to use, the evil actions of men to accomplish his purposes. 

Beloved, we cannot escape evil. The evil actions of wicked men dominate our news headlines. How do you respond to it? Are you overwhelmed with it? Do you ever ask, “Where is God in the midst of this?” How about the evil done to you in your own life? I am sure that many of you know people who have turned away from God, not because of the evil in the world, but the evil in their world. The story of Joseph helps us to see how God uses the evil actions of sinful men to bring about his ultimate purposes. As God would use the capture and the courage of a soldier to save his brothers, so also God would use the capture and the courage of a slave to save his brothers.

The Beloved Son

            Joseph was the youngest son born to Jacob with Rachel, Jacob’s beloved wife. Joseph was the delight of his father, but his father’s extravagant delight created a prideful, spoiled child which did not help Joseph’s relationships with his brothers. Genesis 37:2-4,

These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father's wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. 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 37:2-4)

Joseph was the beloved son. And the favoritism that Jacob showed Joseph did not help form strength of character. The picture of Joseph is that he is a spoiled teenager who annoys and tattles on his brothers.

            Jacob gave Joseph a robe of many colors or more, literally a robe with long sleeves. The robe was Jacob’s way of showing his love for his youngest son, but also to give him prominence. Bruce Watke comments that many “suggest it (the robe) has something to do with royalty…By this regal apparel Jacob publicly designates Joseph as the ruler over the family…Jacob thereby designated his son as his special heir.” This special designation did not help Jacob’s relationship with his brothers. They hated him and could not even speak peacefully with him. Joseph got under his brothers’ skin so that his mere presence annoyed them to the point they could not stand being nice to him at all. Child favoritism does not help anyone.

            Notice that through this section of Scripture there is no reference of God. Although we know that God is working, the narrative does not give him an active role…yet. Joseph has a dream, clearly these dreams are from the Lord, but the story leaves him out,

Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. 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.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind. (Genesis 37:5-11)

Jacob did not keep his dreams to himself. The text says that his brothers hated him because of his dreams (which Joseph could not control) and for his words (which he could control). The root of the brothers’ hatred was jealousy. We must guard our hearts from the bitter fruit of jealousy.

            On commentary of Song of Solomon 8:6, “Love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave,” Charles Spurgeon writes,

Jealousy has often proved itself “cruel as the grave.” You have only to recall the most appalling murders that have been committed within your memory, or, if you please, those you have read of in the history of nations, and you will find that jealousy has instigated those that were most vindictive and relentless. When jealousy begins to turn its sharp tooth upon a man’s heart, his reason fails him. Madness takes possession of his faculties. A determined purpose, which he would not have dared to contemplate under the influence of a well-balanced judgment, prompts, plans and performs almost without premeditation, an atrocious crime, when jealousy rules the cruel hour! We believe it and we deplore it! No revenge has ever been found too bitter, too malicious, and too lawless for jealousy to inflict. Relentless as the grave, it spares not youth nor beauty, respects neither fame nor fortune, but accounts all comers for its prey![2]

Are you prone to jealousy? Is it easy to envy the goods or the lives of others? Beware, of the bitter fruit of jealousy. We must guard our hearts with contentment in the Lord. John Flavel writes, “Every man loves the mercies of God (his gifts), but a saint loves the God of His mercies.” Love the God who give gifts rather the gifts that come from God and you will have contentment.

            Jacob did not appreciate his son’s dreams, but kept the saying in mind. For Jacob knew that God spoke through dreams, but was not ready to fully trust that which was revealed to Joseph. Was Joseph God’s beloved son who would rule over his brothers?

The Brothers’ Sin

            The scene changed with the brothers going to keep the flock in Shechem while the favored Joseph stayed at home. Israel (Jacob) sent Joseph to check on his brothers. We see the bitter fruit of jealousy take hold of his brothers’ hearts,

Now his brothers went to pasture their father's flock near Shechem. And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “Here I am.” So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word.” So he sent him from the Valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” “I am seeking my brothers,” he said. “Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” And the man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan. They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” (Genesis 37:12-20)

They could see his robes from afar and their jealous anger burned against him.

            The plan was simple. They were going to kill him and throw him in a pit and deceive their father by saying he was devoured by fierce animals. The natural animal-like instinct of the brothers obscured the fear of God. Reuben, the oldest brother, provided a middle ground solution. He did not confront his brothers’ sin, but worked a plan to rescue Joseph. Half-way obedience is not obedience. Genesis 37:21-24,

But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

The once talkative Joseph is no longer heard from again in his story. He now suffers in silence. Rueben planned to come back and rescue him while his brothers were going to let him starve. They stripped him of his robe and his special status. And by stripping him of their robes, they hoped to silence his dreams and to control the will of God.

            Reuben leaves his brothers and while he is gone, the narrative takes a turn. Judah speaks up and offers another plan,

Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. 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. When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes and returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone, and I, where shall I go?” Then they took Joseph's robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, “This we have found; please identify whether it is your son's robe or not.” And he identified it and said, “It is my son's robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. (Genesis 37:25-35)

Jacob, like his father, receives the deception of his sons. Jacob refused to be comforted and chose to live in his grief.

            The brothers’ sinned against their brother, their father and against God. Their selfish jealousy gave birth to grievous sin. James 1:13-15,

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

We must sever the root of sin, lest it grow and give birth to sin in our own lives. We are tempted to say that we could never do something as horrible as Joseph’s brothers, but in all our hearts we have the capacity for all kinds of grievous sins. Do not be deceived by the deceitfulness of sin. It lures, it entices and it tempts in many ways. If we are honest, we are probably more like these brothers than we realize. We may not have attempted to kill our brother and sell them into slavery, but we may hold on to the same root sin of jealousy and anger and bitterness. Friends, we are sinners like these brothers. And we, like them, need salvation. They, like we, will receive salvation, when the Beloved Son, becomes the Beloved Slave.

The Beloved Slave

            As grief fills the home of Jacob and his brother, the story ends with the beginning of how God is going to use this captured slave to save his brothers, “Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.” (Genesis 37:36) Joseph, the beloved son, has become a slave. It is only through Joseph’s slavery that he can save his brothers. Joseph’s story foreshadows the story of Jesus Christ. As one scholar notes,

Through his suffering and eventual ascension to rulership Joseph saved God’s people Israel, Jesus, similarly, through his suffering, death, resurrection and ascension would save God’s people…as Joseph’s brothers “conspired to kill him” (Gen. 37:18), so, according to Matthew, Jesus brothers, the chief priests and the elders, “conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him” (Matthew 26:4); as Joseph’s brothers sold him for twenty pieces of silver, so Jesus disciple Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15); as Joseph’s brothers handed him over the Gentiles, so Jesus’ brothers “handed him over to Pilate the governor” (Matthew 27:2); as Joseph suffered in silence, so Jesus suffered in silence (Matthew 26:63); and as God used the evil deeds of Joseph’s brothers to save his people, so God used the evil deeds of Jesus’ “brothers” to save his people.[3]

Salvation came when the Beloved Son became the beloved slave to save his brothers from their sin.

            Joseph will save Israel from famine while Jesus Christ will save his people from eternal death. Jesus took on the very nature of slave, being made in human likeness. The sinless Son of God was killed as sinful servant so showing that Jesus was not ashamed to call us brothers (Heb. 2:11). As Roddie Edmonds identified with brothers-in-arms, saying, “We are all Jews” so, too, Jesus identifies with us. Jesus was poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; and yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12). Jesus died and rose again so that now anyone who repents of their sin and trust in Him, will be adopted as children of God with Jesus Christ as our elder brother who ever lives to intercede for us.

            Beloved, we are more like Joseph’s brothers than we realize. Our jealousy may be for our neighbors, but our greatest form of jealousy is our desire for God’s glory. We desire the glory that rightfully belongs only to God. We are sinners deserving of eternal punishment, but God sent the Son to be a slave so we could receive mercy, being adopted into God’s family. Romans 8:16-17, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” We can be children and heirs if we suffer with him. We identify with Christ’s death and resurrection first in baptism then in communion. The Lord’s Table is the Christian’s way to publicly proclaim the death of Christ until he comes. Jesus invites you to his table as members of his family.

The Lord’s Table is for sinners, but it is only for those sinners who have trusted in his death and resurrection for salvation. If you are a baptized believer and a member in good standing of a church in like faith and order, you are welcome to come identify yourself with the “death” of Christ by symbolically feasting on the body and blood of Christ. If you have never made the decision to publicly identify with Christ, I ask that you allow the elements to pass and reflect on how the Beloved Son of God became a slave to save you from your sins. As God would use the capture of Joseph to save his jealous, hateful brothers, God uses Jesus Christ to save jealous, hateful sinners by becoming like them so that by the grace of God might taste death for everyone. As we taste the bread and the cup, let us proclaim that Christ has tasted death for us and made us children of God.

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/roddie-edmonds-american-wwii-vet-first-soldier-honored-for-saving-jews/ accessed. 5.28.16

[2] http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols61-63/chs3516.pdf accessed 5.29.16

[3] Syndy Griedanus, 356.