You meant to hurt me, but God turned your evil into good to save the lives of many people, which is being done. (Genesis 50:20 NCV)
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (Acts 2:36 NIV)
In Part 1 of a 3-part series, “Parallels With Jesus,” we examine the life of Joseph, an Old Testament precursor to Jesus Christ, and note some key similarities in their lives. Next, we’ll look at Jesus and Job, and then Jesus and Daniel.
THERE’S SOMETHING FUNDAMENTALLY UNFAIR WITH UNFAIRNESS.
There, I said it. It had to be said, right? We all agree with the idea that when something strikes us as being unfair, not right, that the universe is amiss.
We don’t like it, and we start to wonder if we can ever trust solid ground again … or any institution, or any value system, or any group.
So, with that settled, what does the “unfairness of unfairness” have to do with us? How is that relevant to our lives?
Joseph, we may recall, was the favored son of Jacob, whose sons became the patriarchs of Israel’s 12 tribes. He was the next-to-last of Jacob’s sons and the first of two born to Rachel, Jacob’s favored wife, and the love of the old man’s heart.
His older brothers hated him. They were jealous, really, of the love and attention bestowed on him. His fancy multi-colored coat, his clean hands, his conceit, his fanciful dreams — made their blood boil.
So, they sold him to a band of Ishmaelite traders headed for Egypt.
That was the end of Joseph! Or so his brothers thought.
FAST FORWARD TO JESUS CHRIST.
This was the Son of God come into the world in human form to redeem fallen mankind from its sins, its depravity, and its sentence of death. Jesus said He came to proclaim truth, restore mankind to the Father, and liberate us from slavery … slavery to sin.
His brothers hated him. In this case, His brothers were the religious leaders of the day.
They hated His miracles, they hated His parables, they hated His disciples and followers, and they hated His condemnation of their legalistic teaching. Why, Jesus even healed the blind and crippled on the Sabbath — and they hated that!
So, they turned Him over to the Roman authorities to be scourged, beaten, and crucified.
That was the end of Jesus! Or so the religious authorities thought.
BOTH JOSEPH AND JESUS were unfairly treated by those who should have loved them, respected them, and enjoyed their company.
Both were turned over to authorities who, in turn, turned them over to superior authorities with the power to harm them.
Jesus was whipped and crucified; Joseph was thrown into prison. Those were just some of the high marks — or low marks — of their remarkably parallel lives.
Here are some others, along with supporting Bible verses for further reference: Hated by brothers (Genesis 37:13-14, Hebrews 2:11); others plotted to harm them (Genesis 37:20, John 11:53); robes taken from them (Genesis 37:23, John 19:23); sold for the price of a slave (Genesis 37:28, Matthew 26:15); bound in chains (Genesis 39:20, Matthew 27:2); and falsely accused (Genesis 39:16-18, Matthew 26:59-60).
That was just the beginning stuff; here’s the really good stuff: Exalted after suffering (Genesis 41:41, Philippians 2:9-11); forgave those who wronged him (Genesis 45:1-15, Luke 23:34); and saved their nation (Genesis 45:7, Matt. 1:21).
Don’t be surprised if I tell you the best one was saved for last.
God’s wisdom … is a wisdom that none of the present-day rulers have understood, because if they did understand it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory!
(1 Corinthians 2:7-8 MEV)
God redeemed the evil done to them, first to Joseph and then to Jesus, for the good of those who harmed them! See Genesis 50:20 and 1 Corinthians 2:7-8. Both verses will be very easy to find, not just in the Bible but also in this meditation. The Genesis verse is at the top of this column; the verse from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is in the highlighted text.
With Joseph, God was able to use his imprisonment in Egypt to prepare him for the humility required to lead his adoptive country — and his father’s family — out of famine. With Jesus, God was able to use His crucifixion to satisfy the debt we cannot pay for our sins and so open the path to our salvation.
Take a moment to meditate over the awesome-ness of those verses and then pray this one-sentence prayer: “Thank you, Loving God, for redeeming good from evil. Amen.”
FOR ANY BIBLICAL LESSON to make an impact in our lives, we have to see its relevance. Just a wild guess, but I don’t image most of us can relate to the evil perpetrated — unfairly and unjustly — on either Joseph or Jesus.
Sure, we know that “bad things can happen to good people,” but that’s not what the parallel stories are about.
They’re about how God redeems the evil in this world — the evil we do to others and the evil others do to us — for His purpose and His glory.
That’s an amazing concept! We are the children and heirs of a God so loving and gracious — and so powerful — that He takes the sin of the world and redeems it for His glory!
Every sin — every malignant thought — every unkind word — every cruel deed He can use to further His kingdom.
Remember what Jesus said about His defeating Satan on Satan’s home turf? “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).
Job, whose faith was tested by Satan, put it this way: “I know that my Savior lives, and at the end he will stand on this earth” (John 19:25 CEV).
What mankind does for evil, whether intentionally or just because it’s part of our sinful nature, God can, does, and will redeem for His glory and for His purpose.
That’s not fair, either, but it’s a far better deal than what we deserve.
This unfairness is called “Grace.”
PRAYER: Dear Lord, Your mercy amazes us. It exceeds what we can understand. We know we don’t deserve grace. We know it’s a gift of incredible love. It’s amazingly unfair the way You take our sins, our willful disobedience, and turn it around to serve Your glory and our redemption. Thank you for that love. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen