“When they came to the land of Goshen, Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen. He presented himself to him, fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. Israel said to Joseph, “I can die now, having seen for myself that you are still alive.” Genesis 46:29-30, NRSV
The story of Joseph can be seen as a foreshadowing of the story of Jesus. As one commentator says, “The long and moving story of Joseph, who is sold by his brothers and then becomes their saviour, is the first image of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ in the Bible.” [From The Christian Community Bible. Translated, presented and commented for the Christian Communities of the Philippines and the Third World; and for those who seek God.]
Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers, so unjustly gotten rid of. He is then falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, which lands him in prison. So he knows what it is to be an innocent victim. When the brothers return home, they tell their father that Joseph is dead. Jacob mourns inconsolably. For Jacob, his son is dead. His pride and joy, gone. It is final. Finished. He has the blood-stained robe to prove it.
Then after many years, the drought drives Jacob to sent his sons to Egypt for grain where they encounter Joseph. Eventually, all is revealed. Well, almost all. We don’t ever hear the brothers confessing to their father what they did to Joseph. We are just told that Jacob finds out that his beloved son, Joseph, whom he thought for years was dead, is alive. So, in the story of Joseph we see the innocent victim, whom his father believes is dead, appearing alive once again to his father and family.
Jesus would have known well the story of Joseph. We can imagine the saga of Joseph and his trials, the suffering of Jacob, and the ultimate working of all things together for good was a comfort to Jesus as he was undergoing his own suffering and grief.
In this season of Lent, we examine our lives to discover and acknowledge where we are dead. In our personal lives, our dreams, as a church, as a culture, where is there death? The story of Joseph and the story of Jesus show us that God brings new life, even from the most dead places, where we have long given up.
We like to portray the image that everything is fine. We may obsess, medicate, or otherwise obscure reality. We can delude ourselves into ignoring where death holds sway. May we open our eyes to see the death around us and within us so that we can welcome the new life God brings. Amen.