Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Resurrected Son. Christ, our Joseph

"The dead are raised!" So Jesus described his ministry. A widow's son, a vicar's daughter, and the beloved son of the heavenly Father. Paul proclaimed Jesus and the Resurrection so strongly that men mistook him for advocating two gods, Jesus and Anastasios (Resurrection). Resurrection is astounding because we all observe that it is death to die, and yet Jesus persistently challenges this notion. Death can be a precursor to life, sorrow to gladness, judgement to blessing. This is the story Jesus tells, or at least that Moses tells of Jesus as he writes Genesis 45.

Joseph is the key figure of the final quarter of Genesis, a beloved son condemned, enslaved, accused, neglected, raised up and then encountered by his killers, though they do not recognise him. In Genesis 45 we see something of the risen Joseph with his brothers. In three parts we see the response of people to Joseph. Firstly his brothers, then the Pharaoh and then his father, Jacob/Israel.

Initially we find Joseph moved by his brothers. Calvin says: “The stoics speak foolishly when they say it is heroic not to be moved by compassion…” As with Joseph here, and Jesus in Luke 19:44, Biblical heroes are passionate not apathetic. They weep. Joseph's heart is moved and he declares to his brothers - I am Joseph, and their eyes are opened, like those of the Emmaus road disciples over broken bread. And they are dismayed. But he speaks comfort to them. Matthew Henry: "Behold Jesus manifesting himself as a Brother and a Friend to those who once were his despisers." There is grace and love for those who cast the beloved into the pit.

There comes a time when Christ, our Joseph, cannot restrain himself, our beloved comes leaping over the mountains (Gen 45:1, Song 2:8) with love for his brothers. Brothers who hated and killed him. As for Peter, this Jesus whom you crucified is risen. So too, you meant Joseph's demise for evil, but God sent Joseph ahead to preserve a remnant, to save life, to spread life. The true Beloved Son was sent by The Father. Through the trespass of Israel's sons the peoples of the world are fed - and perhaps yet there will even be hope for old man Israel.

Good news comes to their ears in private, with many tears. The dreams are being fulfilled. Joseph is ruler of the world, saviour too. Just as the dreams had said, though they'd heard and been jealous for glory and overthrown him - father Israel had treasured these things in his heart. Like Mary would he forget, and then find faith? And the good news comes to the Pharaoh. He empowers Joseph's promises - come and I will give you rest, come and I will give you the best of the land. Bring your father down here. Come and live!

The brothers go, blessed with many riches, bearing a two-fold gospel. There is bread for a cursed world, and the beloved son who had died is alive! They come to their father with the news. Jacob's heart is numb to it, he does not believe. Like Thomas. His knowledge fails. him. Yet when the words of great Joseph are told and his blessings seen things change. His spirit revives within him. Life returns to the dead man, as to the twelve year old to whom Jesus said: arise. Born again, he is not Jacob but Israel. And he will go to find sight of his beloved son. As Matthew Henry reflects: "Let my eyes be refreshed with this sight before they are closed." He comes in search of me and I long to see him. The Spirit returns the compassion he has for me with love for him.

Christ, our Joseph is risen! He has love for those who killed him. He invites them to come and take the best of his world as they find their life in him. He calls those who love him to come and see him, to find themselves risen. Look to Christ as he reads your heart with his tender words, so pray to the True Joseph, Jesus, with Spurgeon (Sermon 2516):

“Lord, You have read that book right through, and now You know all things, You know that I love you. Alas, I did sell you into Egypt! There was a day when I chose Egypt and its pleasures rather than You and there have been days since when I have sold You again into Egypt by treating You with lukewarmness, and giving myself up to other lovers. Yes, Lord, I have sold You to the Ishmaelites by doubting You and mistrusting You. And by my sins I have stripped You of Your many-colored garment. And by my own folly I have let You go away from Your Father’s house and from the chamber of her that bore You. You know all this, my Lord, but I know You, too, because You know me so well.”


  1. Thanks for this Bish, handy as i'm preaching on John 11 on Wednesday.

    Joseph gives his people bread in the wilderness as well? I know that doesn't fit neatly into the (main) resurrection theme but can it be another shadowing of the Exodus and the feeding of the 5000?

  2. The end of Genesis 41 would seem to foreshadow the feeding of the crowds in the gospels.

    The world is under a famine (cursed) and so is more wilderness than anything else, and people are told to go to him for food... for their stomachs, but of course more because he has the food that leads to real life... he is the man to feed the world, the Saviour of the world, the true Adam who can cultivate the wilderness and bring us to the garden city.. etc.

    Been enjoying working through the final part of Genesis with the staff team recently... Ch 37, Ch 41 and Ch 45. Trying to decide whether to do one more, but I think that might be it for now.

    On to Hosea next.