OBSERVE – By the time Joseph was born into Jacob’s family there was already a household full of siblings. However, we read in Genesis chapter 37 that “Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age” (Genesis 37:3). Joseph lived a life of privilege in the house of his father Jacob. But his father’s favor served only to kindle his brothers’ resentment. “When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him at a distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him” (Genesis 37:18). The jealousy of Joseph’s brothers eventually led to a conspiracy to kill Joseph. But rather then kill him, they sold Joseph into slavery and he was carted off to Egypt, where he became a servant in the house of Potiphar.
INTERPRET – Joseph went from being the favored son in his father’s house to being a servant in a foreigner’s land. Joseph never would have willingly left the home of privilege he enjoyed with his father who loved him dearly, to become a servant in a foreign land. However, he did foreshadow the One who was willing to leave his home in heaven, where he enjoyed the love of his father, to become a servant in a foreign place. Jesus willingly “gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a servant” (Philippians 2:7). Jesus was also the beloved Son of his Father. Three times a voice from heaven affirmed God’s love for his Son. “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy” (Matthew 3:37; Matthew 17:5; see also John 12:28). Jesus too, was hated by his physical half-brothers as well as his larger brotherhood for claiming God as his Father. In addition, Joseph and Jesus were both conspired against to be put to death.
APPLICATION – Joseph prefigured Jesus in many ways. However, the big difference was that Joseph did not become a servant by choice while Jesus willingly gave up his divine privileges to take the humble place of a servant. Despite being hated and conspired against by those whom he was serving, Jesus still humbled himself all the way to death on the cross. This should generate great love and praise for Jesus, since we all know how hard it is to be kind to others who insult and harm us. We need to focus on the example of Jesus to help encourage us to serve others. If Jesus can serve (until his last breath) those who conspired against him, then surely we can serve others who upset us, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.
QUESTION – How does the story of Joseph help you understand what God did by coming in the flesh as Jesus? How does Jesus’ example of ultimate servanthood encourage you to serve others? Are you willing to leave your places of privilege (like Joseph and Jesus) to follow plans that God has for you?
PRAYER –Jesus, how I desire to have the same attitude you had, willing to let go of your divine privilege to come as a servant, humbling yourself in obedience to death. My knee bows before you and my tongue confesses that you are Lord, to the glory of God the Father. AMEN.
SONG: Make Me a Servant (Maranatha Singers)
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.