Was Joseph Like Jesus? a Comparison of Their Kindred Spirits
People sometimes lose hope when they are put through unreasonable stress, hardship and humiliation. More commonly, when people are successful, praised, and exalted, they lose sight of reality. In the Christian Bible, there are two biographies that illustrate the opposite.
Joseph, one of the patriarchs of Israel, and Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, are examples of encouragement through disparaging times and humility during success. An in-depth comparison of Joseph and Jesus shows that both of these men rose to remarkable positions of power and refused to compromise; they continued in their purpose to serve others. These highly-respected men used kindness, humility and forgiveness to positively impact the world.
Genesis 37 records the birth of Joseph. Like Jesus, he was born into a working-class family. Joseph’s father was a shepherd; Jesus’ father was a carpenter. Both men worked alongside their father, learning the value of hard work, wisdom and selflessness. In the case of Jesus, being the first born was unimportant but Joseph received lavish favor from his father for being the first born of his most beloved wife, Rachel. As it turned out, Jacob’s unconditional love for is son Joseph was a catalyst to fulfilling God’s plans to bring all the Israelites to Egypt.
Inspired by the Book of Genesis
Genesis chapters 39 through 50 chronicle the life of Joseph. It starts with the coat of many colors given to him by his father. This coat symbolized his father’s desire for Joseph to be so much more than a shepherd. This expensive gift of a hand-made coat ignited and united Joseph’s brothers’ anger against him.
Jesus’ story does not start with a robe, but during his last twelve hours, a robe was used to humiliate him. Instead of symbolizing a father’s love and favor like Joseph’s Technicolor Dream Coat, Jesus’ robe was presented as a token of the crowd’s mockery of him. Most people focus on His 'Crown of Thorns,' but giving him a robe was equalling as stinging. After being severely beaten, the sarcastic cloak was wrapped around him. His attackers then had the opportunity to further torture Jesus by ripping the robe off after it had dried into his wounds. (Mark 15:16-20). Both men were humiliated by cloth that symbolically meant so much more than a covering of nakedness.
Betrayed and Condemned
Both Jesus and Joseph had a man dear to them fight for and then betray them. Reuben argued with his brothers to try to save Joseph’s life. Peter fought armed guards to protect Jesus. Both Reuben and Peter wanted to protect a man they cared about, and both failed. After Reuben ignored his conscience and refused to help his brother Joseph, the other 10 brothers sold him to Egyptian slave traders. After Peter denied even knowing his friend Jesus, the crowds united to crucify Him. Very similar to Joseph’s story, Jesus was denied by someone dear to Him.
After being sold out by Judas, Jesus was unfairly tried and ultimately judged for crimes he did not commit. The same is true for Joseph. When he was working as a servant of Potiphar, a wealthy man in Egypt, Joseph was wrongly accused of sexually assaulting Potiphar’s wife. Joseph was then unfairly tried and eventually judged for a crime he did not commit. Personal vendettas of their enemies presented both Jesus and Joseph the opportunity to show their kindness and humility.
Compassionate and Forgiving
Despite the way they were treated, both Joseph and Jesus were compassionate and forgiving. While in prison, Joseph cared for his fellow prisoners. While walking through Israel, Jesus brought faith, hope and healing to widows, orphans and sinners. When Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt eleven years after selling their brother into slavery, they had no way of knowing the miracle that was about to take place. Joseph came to understand it, however; wisdom, compassion, and love guided Joseph to forgive his brothers for all they did to him. (Genesis 45:5-8). Right before Jesus died on the cross, he forgave his murderers and asked God to also. “Forgive them Father; they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).
According to Christian tradition, Joseph and Jesus each had a special purpose in God’s great plans for the world. Joseph would suffer for 13 years as a slave and then one day would rule over his 11 brothers, all their family and even his father. Because of his obedience, humility and servant heart, Joseph eventually became the Prime Minister of Egypt. With this powerful position, he was able to save the Israelites during a famine by bringing them to Egypt for food and refuge.
On a grander scale, Jesus saved the entire world from an eternal famine of God’s love. Because of His obedience, humility and servant heart, Jesus Christ became the Savior to all those who believe in Him. By dying on the cross, Jesus was able to save all people from their sins and thus reconcile us to God. Only through the suffering of Joseph and Jesus could God’s plans come to fruition.
The Christian Bible is full of beautiful stories of God’s creation, man’s sin and Jesus’ redemption. Joseph in the Old Testament, and Jesus in the New Testament, are great examples of how to live through despair and how to survive success with your character intact.