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Jesus – A True and Better Joseph

Posted by Jay Firebaugh

A few weekends ago I went to see “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”  presented by the Gahanna Community Theatre and featuring our own Lindsey and Fred Donelson, Susie Washburn, and Heather Ray. Like usual it was a great performance and a really enjoyable show! I’ve seen this particular musical several times and I’m always impressed how well Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber does at mostly accurately presenting the biblical story.

Joseph is an inspiring historical figure as his story is given to us in Genesis 37-50. He was coddled and favored by his father over and above his many other brothers. They responded in jealousy (as you’d expect) and when given the chance, got rid of him by selling him to Egyptian slave traders (probably not what you’d expect – though there was some really serious jealousy going on!)

But God, in the way only His sovereignty can do, was in the midst of this awful, sinful set of circumstances, to get Joseph to the place he needed to be in order to ultimately keep God’s fledgling community alive down the road. Joseph is bought by an Egyptian business man who progressively promotes him as a slave in his household, only to see him unjustly sent to jail by the false charges of Potiphar’s wife against Joseph. Again, Joseph rises to the top even in the terrible conditions of prison, only to find himself in the unlikely place of interpreting a dream for the Pharaoh of Egypt.

Somehow, God used these terrible years of pain and betrayal, unjust treatment and difficulty, to mature Joseph. He goes from spoiled brat living the pampered life with Daddy to a mature man of character – submitted to God and living out His favor. Even the Pharaoh can recognize Joseph’s character and God’s blessing on him so he promotes Joseph from imprisoned slave to second in command in all of Egypt – talk about going from the outhouse to the White House!

There Joseph wisely rations and preserves through the prosperous times and then maximizes that wealth to help Egypt not only survive the famine years – but actually thrive during it! During all of this Joseph’s betraying brothers come to Egypt in desperate need of food to survive and Joseph is ultimately able to keep the people of Israel alive – rescuing the whole lot of Abraham’s descendants (God’s people) – ultimately bringing them all to Egypt where they flourish, experiencing blessing instead of the death they would have experienced apart from Joseph’s rescue.

It’s an amazing story! Joseph is an amazing historical figure. But what hit me this go-round was how far this portrayal misses the true meaning of the story.

It doesn’t surprise me that Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber miss Jesus in the story. They read the biblical story and fixate on what an amazing person Joseph is and what a great story of redemption this is (All drama is really the story of redemption played out.) But as a gospel soaked Christian who has been trained to recognize Jesus on every page of my Bible, I realize that the real point of Joseph’s amazing story is how Jesus is really the BETTER JOSEPH.

Jesus was unjustly treated by His brothers (Acts 2:22-23 - “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”)

Yet despite His rejection Jesus rose above it all to the place of power over all of us and choses to offer forgiveness rather than vengeance.

As amazing of a person as Joseph is – Jesus is true and better! As amazing of a story as Joseph’s story is, Jesus’ is a greater story of redemption – offering eternal life and salvation to all! While Joseph’s father gave him an amazing coat, Jesus’ Father gives Him a name that is above every name.

Way to go Joseph – But even more, way to go Jesus! We not only stand in awe of you and your story – we bow in reverence to you and accept your forgiveness not only to rescue us through the famine – but for all eternity.