Joseph and Jesus have more in common than a name beginning with J

Signpost Sunday 10th August 2014, 9th Sunday after Pentecost: Genesis 37: 1-4, 12-28; Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b; Romans 10:5-15; Matthew 14:22-33.

This week we have two of the best known stories of the Bible – enough has been written about them to fill a library – impossible to contain both in a Signpost article.

Three of the Gospellers tell us of Jesus walking on the water (Luke doesn’t), but only Matthew includes Peter’s special part in the story – impulsive, passionate, courageous, admirable Peter. We have read the story many times, and are able to see clearly its metaphorical relevance to today’s world and to our own storm-tossed lives – what more can we possibly learn from yet another reading? For me, this time, it was a comment buried deep in Matthew Henry’s 17th century verbosity: “He (Peter) does not say bid me walk on the waters, as desiring it for the miracle’s sake; but bid me come to thee, as desiring it for Christ’s sake”. I realised I often struggle to do what I consider the right thing for the wrong reason.

We have only a very small extract from the Joseph novel as our Old Testament reading this week (and again next week). The complete story is enthralling. I have seen and heard it many times through the magnificent talents of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice as they present it lightheartedly and surprisingly accurately in their musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (even giving a Bible reference in their clever lyrics). Somehow the translation “a coat with sleeves” detracts rather from our original understanding! But delightful and amusing as the stage show is, it trivialises a story of super-significant depth, with its themes of “rags to riches”; evil being used to bring about good; repentance and reconciliation; universal salvation.

Joseph is handsome, clever and gracious and he also enjoys that which neither heredity nor upbringing can give – Yahweh’s favour. If we had been discussing Joseph a few days ago I could have come up with a few ways in which Joseph’s story paralleled that of Jesus: I was more than surprised when I googled it (see below).

Psalm 105, composed for use at a major festival, is a recital of the basic events which created the nation of Israel. Verses 1-6 are an introduction summoning the congregation to praise and thanksgiving: in verses 16-22 we have the part played by Joseph: and verse 45b sums it all up – “Praise the Lord!”


Parallels Between Joseph and Jesus Joseph Jesus
Both were the favorite son of a wealthy father. Genesis 37:3
Matthew 3:17
Both were a shepherd of his father’s sheep. Genesis 37:2
John 10:11-14
Both were taken into Egypt to avoid being killed. Genesis 37:28
Matthew 2:13
Both became a servant. Genesis 39:4
Philippians 2:7
Both began their ministry at the age of thirty years old. Genesis 41:46
Luke 3:23
Both were filled with the Spirit of God. Genesis 41:38
Luke 4:1
Both returned good for evil. Genesis 50:20
Matthew 5:44
Both were humble and unspoiled by wealth. Genesis 45:7-8
John 13:12
Both were taught by God. Genesis 41:16
John 5:19
Both loved people freely. Genesis 45:15
John 13:34
Both gained the confidence of others quickly. Genesis 39:3
Matthew 8:8
Both gave bread to hungry people who came to him. Genesis 41:5-7
Mark 6:41
Both resisted the most difficult temptations. Genesis 39:8-9
Hebrews 4:15
Both were given visions of the future. Genesis 37:6-7
Matthew 24:3
Both tested people to reveal their true nature. Genesis 42:25
Mark 11:30
Both were hated for their teachings. Genesis 37:8
John 7:7
Both were sold for the price of a slave. Genesis 37:28
Matthew 26:15
Both were falsely accused. Genesis 39:14
Mark 14:56
Both were silent before their accusers. Genesis 39:20
Mark 15:4
Both were condemned between two prisoners. Genesis 40:2-3
Luke 23:32
Both arose into a new life. Genesis 41:41
Mark 16:6
Both were not recognized by their own brethren. Genesis 42.8
Luke 24:37
Both returned to their father. Genesis 46:29
Mark 16:19
Both became royalty. Genesis 45:8
Revelation 19:16


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