Posted by: Esther | November 21, 2007

Joseph: A Picture of Jesus

As I read through Genesis chapter 37, I was amazed at the many different ways that Joseph is a picture of Jesus Christ. And Genesis 37 is just the beginning of his story. Following, I will list the pictures of Jesus shown through His servant Joseph.

  • Both were hated by their brothers.

It is easy to read through Genesis 37 and see that Joseph was hated by his brothers. They wanted to kill him. Likewise, Jesus was hated by the very beings that He created.

John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

Jesus even explains to His brothers how the world hates Him.

John 7:7 “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.

  • Both are loved by their father.

Genesis 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic.

When Jesus took Peter, James and John up to the Mount of Transfiguration, a bright cloud overshadowed them and they heard a voice in the cloud say, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” Matthew 17: 1-5

  • Both were envied.

Genesis 37:4 His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and {so} they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.

Acts 7:9 “The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. {Yet} God was with him,

Pilate knew that the reason the Jews handed Jesus over to be crucified was because they were envious of Him.

Matthew 27:17-18 So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.

  • Neither were wanted as kings.

Joseph’s brothers reject the meaning of his dreams and become even more jealous of him (Genesis 37:11).

Genesis 37:8 Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

John 19:14-15 Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he (Pilate) said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” So they cried out, “Away with {Him,} away with {Him,} crucify Him!” Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

  • Both were sent into the world by their fathers.

Genesis 37:12-14 Then his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock in Shechem. Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing {the flock} in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “I will go.” Then he said to him, “Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

Remember that Shechem represents the world (chapter 34). This is the same place in which Simeon and Levi became murders when avenging their sister Dinah. The brothers took the flock into the world. In the same way, the Jewish leaders led the people astray and taught them the traditions of men and of the world.


But just as Joseph searched until he found them, so Jesus will not stop until every one of His sheep are found.

Genesis 37:15-16 A man found him (Joseph), and behold, he was wandering in the field; and the man asked him, “What are you looking for?” He said, “I am looking for my brothers; please tell me where they are pasturing {the flock.}”

Matthew 18:11-14 [“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.] “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? “If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. “So it is not {the} will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.

  • Both were plotted against and wanted dead.

Genesis 37:18 When they saw him (Joseph) from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death.

Luke 22:2 The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people.

  • Their tunics were taken by their persecutors.

Genesis 37:23 So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him;

Luke 19:23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and {also} the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece.

  • Both were put into an empty pit.

Joseph is put into an empty pit for the same reason that Jesus was scourged. Neither Reuben nor Pilate wanted the blood shed on their hands, yet they both needed to satisfy the crowd.

Genesis 37:21-22 But Reuben heard {this} and rescued him out of their hands and said, “Let us not take his life.” Reuben further said to them, “Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him”–that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father.

Luke 23:13-14 Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him.

Matthew 27:24-26 When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see {to that} yourselves.” And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

As Jesus hung on the cross, he said, “I am thirsty.” But no water was given to Him. Instead they put a sponge full of sour wine upon a branch of Hyssop and brought it up to his mouth. (John 19:28-29). The pit that Joseph was thrown into was also empty and without water.

Genesis 37:24 and they took him (Joseph) and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.

  • Both were handed over to the Gentiles.

Genesis 37:27-28 “Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our {own} flesh.” And his brothers listened {to him.} Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled {him} up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty {shekels} of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.

Mark 15:1 Early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate.

  • Both were sold for silver.

Genesis 37:28 Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled {him} up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty {shekels} of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.

Matthew 26:14-15 Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him.

  • An empty tomb is found.

Genesis 37:29 Now Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; so he tore his garments.

Luke 24:1-3 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Becoming a Picture of Jesus

Joseph was not afraid to do his father’s will, no matter how much his brothers hated him.

Genesis 37:2 These are {the records of} the generations of Jacob. Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was {still} a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father.

Likewise, Jesus was willing to do His Father’s will even though the world hatedHim

John 7:7 “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.

John 7:16 So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or {whether} I speak from Myself. “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

The first step in becoming a picture of Jesus is to do His will, even if it means the world, including your family, will hate you.

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before {it hated} you.



  1. Your enlightment of the beginning and the end is well informed and its relevancy of the old and new as fortold for us today and in the future.
    The last scripture to hate and be hated could be explained to the intent of God’s love. A subject for later : )

  2. Joseph loved his father so much that he didn’t care that his brothers hated him for doing his will. They hated him so much that they wanted to kill him. Jesus loved His Father so much that He was willing to do His will even though the world hated him. They hated Him so much that they wanted to kill Him. And because of this “God showed His great love for us by dying for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8
    Likewise we must do the will of our heavenly father, even if it means the world hates us. And when they hate us, we can remember that they hated Him first and in that he showed His great love for us.

  3. Specifically in Luke 14:26, could the word “hate” be less harsh, and could we use “dislike” instead?
    God’s love speaks of love thy neighbor as thy self. Hatred is counter producing of that love.
    I enjoy your thoughts : )

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