I want to say thanks to Jeff Smelser for sharing the information in this article with me a few weeks ago. I wanted to share it with you.
One of the amazing things about the Old and New Covenants is the great amount of continuity. Not only are there prophecies in the Old Testament pointing to Jesus and the establishment of His church fulfilled in the New, we even see the very stories themselves fulfilling each other. Consider the story of Joseph and how Jesus’ story parallels.
There is a loose parallel regarding their births. Joseph was born to a barren mother whose past made it seem she simply couldn’t have children. Jesus was born to a virgin who clearly shouldn’t be having children.
Who was responsible for selling Joseph? His brother, Judah (Genesis 37:26). Who was responsible for selling Jesus? His disciples, Judas (Matthew 26:14-16). The names are not merely similar. They are simply different forms of the same name. Just as Simon and Simeon were forms of the same name.
Joseph was sold for 20 shekels of silver (Genesis 37:28). Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). No doubt, the amounts were not exact. However, one can hardly miss the similarity.
Joseph was framed and punished for crimes he didn’t commit (Genesis 39). Jesus was framed and punished for crimes he did not commit (Luke 23:41).
I can’t help but notice the use of three days when Joseph interpreted the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker (Genesis 40:12, 18). We see the issue of three days happening again and again, culminating in Jesus being in the belly of the earth for three days.
When Joseph first appears to the brothers, he appears to 10 of them because Benjamin was at home with his father (Genesis 42:3). When Jesus first appeared to the apostles, He appeared to 10 of them because Judas was dead and Thomas was not there (John 20:19-29).
On the second appearance, Joseph appears to all 11 brothers (Genesis 43). On Jesus second appearance, He appeared to 11 disciples (John 20:26).
Perhaps there are more parallels, but you get the picture. It is as if the very story of Joseph prepares the way for the story of Jesus. What an amazing demonstration of continuity and unity in the entire word of God.
Why would God use this kind of parallelism? Because those who already knew the story of Joseph could not help but make the connections as they heard the story of Jesus. As the negative issues of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion are told, they can’t help but know victory is coming. Finally, we can’t help but remember what Joseph said to his brothers toward the end of their lives. “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive” (Genesis 50:20). That is exactly God’s plan for Jesus. He meant it all for good that many should be kept alive. The question is, will you believe and submit to the story of Jesus?