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Was Joseph Like Jesus? a Comparison of Their Kindred Spirits

Updated on February 12, 2018

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.

Eddie Cibrian played Joseph in "In the Beginning."
Eddie Cibrian played Joseph in "In the Beginning."
James Caviezel played Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ."
James Caviezel played Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ."

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.

Jesus probably looked more like this average Hebrew man than the blond-haired, blue-eyed guy we see portrayed.
Jesus probably looked more like this average Hebrew man than the blond-haired, blue-eyed guy we see portrayed.

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.


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    • broussardleslie profile image

      Leslie Broussard 7 years ago

      Thanks, Ann. Joseph is one of my favorites also. So much can be gleened from his life!

    • Ann Lee profile image

      Ann Lee 7 years ago

      Joseph is also one of my favorite stories. Excellent hub.

    • broussardleslie profile image

      Leslie Broussard 8 years ago

      Wow! Thank you, James!

      Joseph is one of my favorite stories also. It became endearing to me after watching "In the Beginning" when his story came to life for me. I am amazed at his ability to stand true to God regardless of his plight.

      Thank you for visiting my hub. I always appreciate your feedback.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      You show your excellent writing skills well in this Tour De Force. Besides the stories in the Gospel, the story of Joseph is my favorite in the Bible. It is very real and human. And very illustrative of outstanding conduct in the face of temptation; forgiveness in the face of betrayal. Vunderbar!

    • broussardleslie profile image

      Leslie Broussard 8 years ago

      Thank you for visiting my hub. I am glad you can see the similarities between Joseph and Jesus through my writing.

      I appreciate your feedback. You're right, it was their trust in God that brought them through the darkness. I don't think I accurately attested their faith in God as their source of their humility, compassion and forgiving nature.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

    • Gicky Soriano profile image

      Gicky Soriano 8 years ago from California

      Jesus and Joseph seemed to share one thing in common. In spite of the unjust grave circumstances they found themselves in, they never lost sight of the fact that God had a specific plan for their lives that could not be thwarted by human beings. As you said, it was this divine knowledge that kept them humble, compassionate and forgiving. A brief and excellent character study on two comparable lives. Great hub!

    • broussardleslie profile image

      Leslie Broussard 8 years ago

      I agree - the Old and New Testaments go hand-in-hand. It is unfortunate when Christians don't take the time to see the beauty of the OT. I think that, through reading the OT, I have gained a HUGE appreciation for what Christ did. I am so thankful we do not have to follow Leviticus' laws or offer smelly animal sacrifices!

      Thank you for your comment; it's always nice to know when a Hub reaches someone :)

    • vanderhaven profile image

      vanderhaven 8 years ago

      Very precise and to the point. To me, it just makes the point that the Old and the New testament are all really just one. They definitely go together and support each other.

      I like that picture you have showing what Jesus probably looked like too. I have always thought the picture we seem to "think" he looks like was probably nowhere close!

      Another very nice hub Leslie. - I am glad we can have hope and live through despair.