Joseph & Jesus’ Passion St. John, Galveston 3/4/20
Genesis 37:12-36, Luke 22:14-30
420, 439 (1-3), 933, 422
+ In Nomine Jesu +
Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
All of the readings for these Wednesday services will come from the latter part of the Book of Genesis, as well as, from the Jesus’ Passion narrative in Luke’s Gospel. Over these Wednesday evenings in Lent we’re going to be reflecting on the Passions of Joseph and Jesus. Not Joseph, as in Jesus earthly father, but Joseph the son of Jacob, who was sold into slavery. Joseph’s is a remarkable story of betrayal and deceit, but also of forgiveness and hope. Moses, who wrote the Book of Genesis, devotes thirteen chapters to the story of Joseph, which is, in itself somewhat remarkable, since Joseph is not from the tribe of Judah, and therefore, not in the line of the coming Messiah. The mere fact that Joseph’s story is so prominent in Genesis should, at the very least, leave us wondering about its significance as it relates to the larger message of the Bible, which is the forgiveness of our sins in Christ Jesus.
There are some striking parallels between the lives of Joseph and Jesus. Certainly, Joseph isn’t like Jesus in terms of divinity, or, even in terms of his mission and the fruit of his life. He is, however, what Bible scholars sometimes refer to as “a type of Christ.” What that means is that, in many respects, Joseph’s life, foreshadowed the life of Jesus, or, in the case of the Old Testament believers, his life foreshadowed the life of the One they knew as the Messiah, the One who was yet to come.
One prominent parallel in the lives of Joseph and Jesus is that both were betrayed by people who were very near and dear to them. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers. It would appear that his brother’s jealousy and anger toward him became so intense, so raw, they wanted to kill him. When Joseph approached them one day from a distance, they couldn’t even muster enough love, enough humanity, to call him their brother. “Here comes this dreamer (they said). Let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits.” Such is the devastating outcome of unbridled and unchecked anger and wrath.
But for the intercession of Reuben, another of the sons of Jacob, the others would have killed Joseph and discarded his body like refuse. Reuben said, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him.” In that respect, Rueben was as a Messiah figure to Joseph. Not that he provided him eternal salvation, but he pleaded on behalf of his brother that he might live.
Joseph was eventually sold by his brothers to Ishmaelite slave traders for 20 shekels of silver. I suspect that it wasn’t really the money that interested Joseph’s brothers. It was that they wanted Joseph out of their sight and out of their lives. Their plot was the fruit of so much hatred and so much animosity toward him. When the slave traders carted him off into captivity, all that remained was for them to concoct a plan to deceive Jacob, their father. And so, they took Joseph’s coat of many colors and dipped it in animal’s blood and told their father that Joseph had been ripped apart by wild animals. Jacob then wept for his son, though Joseph was actually still very much alive.
Betrayal is an awful thing, isn’t it? When it happens to us, it cuts to the heart of our very being because it causes us to question those things that we once held near and dear to us in life. Perhaps you’ve been betrayed by someone in your life and you’re still carrying a heavy burden of resentment and anger over what they did to you. At this point, I’d offer you the consoling realization that Joseph came to in the latter part of his life. He was finally able to acknowledge God’s providence in his life, even when everything that happened to him seemed to suggest that God had forsaken him. With that realization, he was able to say to his brothers, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” It is a principle that finds it completion in Christ Jesus, for in Jesus, God redeems even the most pitiful acts of human depravity and callousness, both for His glory and for the good of His people, whom He loves dearly.
Joseph’s story is heart wrenching, but it isn’t salvific, which is to say, his story doesn’t bless anyone, in an eternal sense. It does, however, foreshadow the life of God’s anointed One, the Messiah, who was to come into the world, for He too, would be betrayed into the hands of sinful men. What others meant for evil, God meant for good.
Jesus faced many betrayals in His life. In his Gospel, John tells us that “Jesus came unto His own and His own received Him not.” An entire nation turned against Him, even though He came for their good, indeed, to save them from sin and death. Judas, who was counted among the 12, betrayed Jesus for a mere 30 pieces of silver.
And then, here in Luke 22, the reading for this evening, Jesus foretold Peter’s denial, his betrayal of Him. The very night before He was arrested, Jesus knew that Peter, one of His closest disciples and dearest friends, was going to deny that he ever even knew Him. “I tell you, Peter, (Jesus said), the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me?” Peter was devastated by Jesus prediction, but he was even more devastated when what Jesus predicted came to pass. Peter was not really like Joseph’s brothers. He didn’t deny Jesus because he hated Him. No, he denied him because he was afraid of what it would mean to be associated with Him. Fear, I suspect, is often the source of many a betrayal. To save his life, Peter found it necessary to insist that he didn’t even know Jesus. And, in the very moment that he denied Jesus, the rooster crowed, just as Jesus had said.
All the scars we bear over the betrayals we’ve experienced in life pale in comparison to what Jesus suffered. From the lives of Joseph and Jesus, we come to see that men often mean their deeds for evil, but God means them for good. The words that Joseph spoke to his brothers have never been truer than in the death of Jesus, the Son of God. What men meant for evil, God meant for good.
On the cross, Jesus was abandoned, not just by His disciples, but by His own Father. He suffered death, forsaken of God. But, in doing so, He assured each and every one of you that He will never forsake, or, betray you. He is, in all things, on your side. As the Apostle says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Ultimately, it was the betrayal of others, that brought about the salvation of the world. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.
+ Soli Deo Gloria +
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