Vol. 11 — No. 8 February 22, 1970


JOSEPH—A Person-Type of CHRIST

Genesis 39:19-23

And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.

In Christ Jesus, our innocent Savior, Fellow Redeemed:

The entire life of Joseph reveals him as a type of Christ. There are many facts and conditions in the life of Joseph that find a remarkable parallel in the life and work of Christ. Joseph was the favorite son of his Father Jacob, even as Jesus Christ is the only begotten, well beloved Son of God the Father. Because Joseph was the favorite of his father, he was an object of envy to his brothers, even as Jesus with His increasing popularity became an ever increasing object of envy to His brethren, the Jews. Joseph’s brothers hated him so much that they plotted to kill him, even as the Jews hated Jesus so much that they were constantly plotting to kill Him. When Joseph was in Egypt, we find that he was subjected to severe temptation, even as Jesus was severely tempted in the wilderness and in the Garden of Gethsemane. We find that after Joseph was innocently thrown into prison, he bore that persecution with the utmost patience, even as our Lord patiently bore His suffering and death as a lamb led to the slaughter. We find that God humbled Joseph in this way for a purpose in order that through him He might save much people alive. In like manner our Lord humbled Himself for a purpose in order that through His humiliation His death might bring life unto many. The darkest moment in the life of Joseph was his hopeless existence in prison, but that hopeless state was soon turned into joy when Pharaoh elevated him to the second highest in Egypt. So also in the life of our Savior everything looked hopeless on Good Friday. The disciples were scattered in terror and dismay, but that was only the extreme darkness before the Easter dawn. When Pharaoh elevated Joseph, he put costly garments upon him and a ring on his finger. In like manner our Heavenly Father raised His beloved Son and clothed His human nature with all power in heaven and in earth. Even as Joseph used his exaltation for the welfare of his people, so Jesus uses His power and majesty for the welfare of His people. Even as Joseph was not only interested in the bodily welfare of his brothers, but was more interested in the spiritual welfare of his brothers who had at one time plotted his death, so our Lord is not only interested in our bodily welfare, but He is chiefly interested in the welfare of our souls.

Now instead of using the time allotted to this meditation in briefly discussing all the above mentioned and other points which reveal Joseph as a type of Christ, we intend to limit ourselves to just two points. An elaboration upon two points will reveal—


I. He was innocently accused and condemned.

Our text brings us the closing scene in a series of events that brought about the innocent accusation and condemnation of Joseph. We know that after Joseph had been sold as a slave into the hands of the Ishmeelites, who were traveling merchants, he was brought by them to Egypt. In Egypt he was bought by an Egyptian, Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard. In the house of Potiphar Joseph’s native administrative and organizational abilities came to the attention of Potiphar, and in due time Joseph became his chief steward having charge over Potiphar’s vast household and landed estates. As the days passed by Potiphar’s wife also began to take notice of Joseph. She saw that he was a goodly person and well favoured, and before long her adulterous heart moved her to look upon Joseph with lustful eyes. With shameful boldness she invited Joseph to sin with her, but Joseph resisted with God-given courage and strength expressed in those oft-quoted words: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” But the refusal of Joseph did not stop the advances of Potiphar’s wife, who became more and more a miserable and helpless slave to her sinful lust. One day when Joseph’s business about the house brought him to the women’s quarters, Potiphar’s wife grabbed his cloak and again invited him to sin, but Joseph fled from the room leaving his cloak in her hand. Since Joseph’s cloak in her possession would reveal her sin and guilt, Potiphar’s wife immediately called aloud to the other servants of the house and accused Joseph of attempting to sin against her. She used Joseph’s cloak as evidence, claiming that he had left it behind as he fled when she had cried out. She kept the evidence by her side and nursed her alibi until her husband came home in the evening, and then in order to clear herself she falsely accused Joseph before her husband. Potiphar was forced to accept her story whether he believed her or not, and on the basis of the false accusation he wrongly condemned Joseph and wrongly sentenced him to prison. So we see that Joseph was innocently accused and condemned.

The innocence of Joseph marks him as a type of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose innocence stands out in bold relief during the entire passion story. As soon as the band of soldiers met Jesus at the garden gate and were about to take Him captive, Jesus protested His arrest in the words, “Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.” Since no one had been able to find fault with His public teaching and preaching in the past, Jesus with these words declared His innocence of any possible crime or misdemeanor during His entire public ministry. When Jesus was arrested, the guilt lay upon those that were responsible for His arrest and not upon Him, the Captive. The same thing is true at the trial of Jesus before the Jewish courts. Those that were conducting the trial of Jesus were the guilty ones whereas Jesus who was on trial was innocent. Annas, the father—in—law of Caiaphas, tried Jesus first in an informal way while the Jewish court, the Sanhedrin, was being assembled, but he could find no fault in Jesus. Annas himself became guilty of permitting Jesus to be mistreated in violation of the law while the expressed verdict of his informal examination of Jesus was “innocent.” Caiaphas, the high priest, fared no better in his attempt to prove Jesus guilt. The entire supreme court of the Jews became guilty of bribing false witnesses in an effort to prove some accusation against Jesus. The closest they came to any accusation was the false witness of two men who misquoted the words that Jesus had spoken three years before that time, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” But even those two men couldn’t agree on what they claimed Jesus had said. Finally when Caiaphas saw that the court was proving nothing but the absolute innocence of Jesus and its own black guilt, he arose to his feet and asked Jesus to answer the false accusations, thereby hoping that Jesus would entangle himself and would say something that they could use as evidence against Him. But Jesus just remained silent with a silence so great that it simply shouted His innocence. When Caiaphas realized that the court would have to release Jesus for lack of evidence, he dramatically took things into His own hands and put Jesus under oath, saying, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” Since the holy truth of God was at stake, Jesus couldn’t remain silent but said, “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” when the high priestheard that, he rent his clothes and said, “He is guilty of blasphemy,” and he asked for and got a verdict of death. Instead of examining the evidence of Christ’s public ministry in which He repeatedly and continuously proved by word and deed that He was, indeed, the very Christ, the Son of God, the high priest, together with the Sanhedrin, completely ignored all the evidence and proclaimed the innocent Jesus guilty. Even as the public record of Joseph had been ignored, so the public record of Jesus was ignored and He was falsely accused and condemned by unbelieving men who simply wanted to put Him out of the way as quickly as possible. It is interesting to note that when the Sanhedrin brought Jesus before Pilate in order to have Him sentenced to death, the Jews didn’t mention the accusation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God—not until the end when every other accusation failed. When the Jews brought Jesus before Pilate, they accused Him of perverting the nation, forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that He was a King. On the basis of these false charges Pilate examined Jesus and returned the verdict, “I find no fault in this man.” Even though Pilate, out of fear for the Jews, finally sentenced Jesus to death on the cross, he never reversed his verdict of “innocent.”

So then the history of our Lord’s passion shows conclusively that Jesus walked to His own execution an innocent man. He was innocently accused and innocently condemned. That Jesus died an innocent man His Heavenly Father proclaimed to all the world in a wonderful way by raising Him up on the third day. The innocence of Jesus is necessary for our salvation, and is therefore of utmost comfort to us. For if Annas and Caiaphas and the Jewish court, who had power to gather witnesses and evidence from every place where Jesus had been, would have been able to prove one charge against Jesus, He could not have been our Savior, for He would have needed a Savior Himself. If Pilate would not have been able to proclaim the verdict, “I find no fault in this man,” you and I would be yet in our sins, without hope in this world, doomed to everlasting punishment in hell. Let us thank God for our innocent Savior!

We return again to our type and see another feature in his life which marks Joseph a type of Christ:

II. He continued his life’s work in prison.

Joseph was a natural born administrator. Potiphar discovered that and made him steward of his household. The prison-keeper soon discovered Joseph’s talents also and put him in charge of the entire prison. So it was that in prison also Joseph kept on preparing himself For his life’s work of administering the entire economy of Egypt during thus dreadful years of the famine.

We see this same feature in Jesus, the great Anti-Type of Joseph. Jesus also continued His life’s work even in those personally very tragic and dreadful hours of Maundy Thursday night and Good Friday. Even while on the road to meet his captors and while He was a captive and even while on the cross Jesus continued His life’s work. We ask: What was His life’s work? We can answer best by letting Jesus tell us Himself in words that He spoke on one occasion, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Our Lord Jesus was especially equipped to do His life’s work. He had a spirit that tirelessly and endlessly continued to seek the lost, and He had a heart filled with compassion to save that which was lost. Just recall the story of Nicodemus, who came to Jesus for instruction at night, the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well, the man at the pool of Bethesda who had been sick for 38 years because of a grievous sin. What was Jesus doing in those stories? Was He not about His life’s work of seeking and saving that which was lost? Open your Gospels to any page, and you will see Jesus about His life’s work of seeking and saving the lost!

One might reasonably expect that the suffering and torture of His passion might keep Jesus from His seeking and saving, but the sacred record tells us otherwise. In the Garden of Gethsemane before He was taken captive Jesus suffered indescribable agony of body and soul. He had asked three of His disciples to watch with Him and so support Him in His agony, but when He returned from His prayer, He found them asleep. A word of ‘righteous reproach passed through His sacred lips when He said, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” But immediately His Savior-heart broke through as He said, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” In His own agony Jesus still pleaded with His disciples to watch and pray so that they would not fall into temptation and lose their own souls. Was He not about His life’s work? A short time later when Jesus stood facing the mob that had come to take Him captive, Jesus asked for and won freedom for His disciples. He was not looking out for His own welfare but for the welfare if His disciples. He knew that His disciples might lose their faith if they suffered imprisonment with Him. And how correct He was the story of Peter’s denial tell us. Again we see Jesus seeking to preserve the flickering faith in the hearts of His disciples. A few hours later Jesus stood before the Jewish court, and after He had been condemned, the members of the Sanhedrin and later on the common soldiers struck His face with their fists and slapped it with their hands and spit upon that sacred face. Jesus left that scene a pitiable figure, and yet as He went out, He bestowed on Peter that saving look which helped to bring about Peter’s repentance and saved him from the fate of Judas. Even in his greatest misery Jesus was eager to seek and save the lost. When Jesus stood before the proud and haughty and cynical Roman, Pontius Pilate, He still reached out for his soul with the words, “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” But Pilate rejected the saving offer with the cynical reply, “What is truth?” On the way to Golgotha He pleaded with the women of Jerusalem. On the cross He rescued one of the malefactors from eternal torments. At the moment of His death when the earth did quake He found another, the centurion in charge of His execution.

Jesus was always and continually about His life’s work of seeking and saving the lost. But Good Friday was not the end. There came Easter with the announcement: “He liveth!” That gives us the comforting assurance that the Lord is still continuing His word of seeking and saving the lost. He has been about His work this night again through His Word. To you and to me He has said: “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” From the pages of His own book He looks upon us with His saving look which is always a call to repentance and faith. He pleads with us to hear His word of truth. He longs to hear from us the response: “Lord, remember me!” “Certainly this was a righteous man and the Son of God.” Amen.

—Pastor Paul F. Nolting

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