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Joseph, Jesus, and Typology

  • Luke 24:25-27 (two on the road to Emmaus)
  • Luke 24:44-47 (11 + others + two)


There are a number of direct prophecies about Jesus. However, notice in verse 27 how Jesus began with Moses and all the Prophets, and then he interpretted to them “in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Notice also how Jesus says in verse 46 that it is written that the Christ would not only suffer but also “on the third day rise from the dead.” If Jesus only spoke about direct prophecies, Luke wouldn’t have said that Jesus interpretted from all the Scriptures things concerning himself and opened their minds to understand how the Scriptures speak of him rising on the third day. There are not direct prophecies of the Christ in all the Scriptures and there is not one passage that speaks directly of Christ rising on the third day. Jesus did not point to a few obvious passages, he had to “interpret to them” and “open their minds to understand the Scriptures.” All the things written that concerned the Christ were and are not obvious if we don’t look in the right way.


One biblical way of interpretting the Bible is through the means of typology. To put it simply, typology is when a person and event(s) in their life foreshadow/prefigure the person of Christ. There are many types (or prefigures) of Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures. Jonah is a great example of this in Matthew 12:38-41/Luke 11:29-30. The people of Jesus’ day would only understand who Jesus was and the basis of his authority if they understood how Jonah was a type of the Christ. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish 3 days and 3 nights, Jesus would be in the heart of the earth 3 days and 3 nights. Jonah is not the only example of typology brought out by Jesus and the writers of the Bible. Hebrews is filled with typology. The biblical references to typology are not meant to tell us of the only examples of typology in the Bible. Rather, they are meant to give us new glasses by which we can read all Scripture (Of course, this is not to say that typology is in every nook and cranny of Scripture; rather, Christ is in all Scripture. Typology is just one way we see Christ in all Scripture.)


According to the writer of Hebrews, seeing Christ in all Scripture via typology is one of those things we do when we are pressing onto maturity. In fact, if the Hebrew Christians were not so immature, we might know more about how the priest/king Melchizedek was a type of Christ and his kingly/priestly service (cf. Hebrews 4:14-7:28). The Hebrew writer had to rebuke the Christians he wrote to because they were unskilled in the word and bored with listening, so it was hard for him to explain how Melchizedek was a type of Christ. Nonetheless, seeing Christ in all Scripture is something we do when we are becoming more mature because it is through studying the Old Testament Scriptures that we can appreciate our need for Christ, who Christ is, and God’s purpose for the Christ and for his people.


Today, we will examine Joseph - the favorite son of Jacob - as a type who prefigures/foreshadows the Christ. Of course, this is not merely an academic study. On top of the benefit of appreciating who Jesus Christ is more fully, rich, practical application will spring from this. We will look at the life of Jesus and then we will look at the life of Joseph. As we consider the life of Jesus, listen to the Scriptural language I use to paint his life and think of how it compares to the life of Joseph.


The Story of Jesus the Christ

  • It was foretold to Mary that Jesus would save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)
  • Jesus saw himself as a special Son of God - distinguished from others. The people of the Jesus’ day did not miss how Jesus referred to God as his Father. The children of Israel hated Jesus for the special relationship Jesus had/appeared to have with the Father. (John 5:16-18) 
  • Jesus saw himself as the son sent to check upon the children of Israel, yet he prophesied that he would be killed for doing this (Matthew 21:33-46).
  • Sadly, many children of Israel - especially in the religious leadeership - wanted to kill Jesus. Jealousy was a big motivation behind this. (John 11:47-48)
  • Even Jesus own brothers thought Jesus did not believe in him. His own brothers tried to get him killed by encouraging Jesus to go to Jerusalem where the Jews were trying to find him to kill him. (John 7:1-9)
  • Though Mary had heard prophesies about her son herself, she still did not understand the things Jesus said; however, she treasured up the things Jesus did in her heart and remembered them. (Luke 2:41-51)
  • Jesus was innocent. Jesus only did what his Father sent him to do, but one of his closest followers, Judas (Judah in Hebrew), betrayed him and led all the children of Israel against him. Judas sold Jesus into the hands of lawless men for 30 pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:14-16, 47-56; Acts 2:23)
  • Judas later regretted this when he saw what he had done. (Matthew 27:3-10)
  • Nevertheless, though Jesus was innocent, the children of Israel falsely accused and mocked Jesus and handed him over to lawless men to be killed (Psalm 22; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Matthew 26-27; Acts 2:23).
  • Jesus entered into death for 3 days and nights. Though his flesh was dead, his spirit was alive to preach to the spirits in prison. (1 Peter 3:18-20)
  • When everyone thought Jesus was dead forever, something amazing happened - God raised Jesus from death, gave him a new name, all authority (except, not authority over himself), and has ordered that all bow down to him. (Matthew 28; Psalm 2, 16; Acts 2; Philippians 2:5-12)
  • When people saw Jesus alive, the man they knew to be dead, they did not even recognize him at first. But when he revealed to them who he was they were shocked speechless and could not believe what they were seeing. (Luke 24)
  • When the children of Israel realized their guilt for killing the Christ, they were devastated and repentent. Yet, the message preached to the children of Israel was that they had acted/sinned in ignorance, but God had preplanned to use their sin to save the whole world. (Acts 2-3)


The Story of Joseph (Genesis 37-50)

  • Joseph was the favorite son of his father, for this special relationship the children of Israel (Jacob) hated Joseph.
  • Joseph saw dreams to the effect that Israel and all his children would bow before him. When the children of Israel heard that Joseph thought he would actually reign over them, they hated him all the more.
  • One day, Joseph’s father sent him to check on his children. Though the children of Israel were not where they were supposed to be, Joseph found them.
  • However, upon seeing the favorite son of their father, the children of Israel wanted to kill Joseph. But Judah came up with a new plan that would allow them to profit off their brother. Judah led his brothers in selling Joseph into the hands of lawless men for 20 pieces of silver.
  • As a slave, Joseph was falsely accused of wrongdoing and sent to prison. Keep in mind, Joseph has never done anything wrong to deserve any of this treatment. As far as Moses paints Joseph, Joseph is a righteous, innocent man.
  • Fortunately, the Lord was with Joseph in prison. He even used some of the powers of divination God gave him in his interactions with some prisoners there.
  • Though Joseph was stuck in prison, God gave him the opportunity to speak to Pharoah and interpret his dream. Pharaoh was impressed that the spirit of God was in Joseph. He raised him up out of prison to give him all authority over Egypt (except with regards to Pharoah’s throne). Pharoah gave Joseph a new name and commanded that all bow down to Joseph.
  • When a famine came, it hit the whole land/earth. People all over the land/earth came to Joseph for salvation - even the children of Israel who had originally sinned against him and who thought him to be dead.
  • When the children of Israel saw Joseph, they did not recognize him since he was changed and exalted and they expected him to be dead or a slave somewhere. They bowed before him and begged him for help and salvation - they bowed to the one they had sold for his dreams about how they would all bow before him one day.
  • When Joseph revealed his identity to the children of Israel, they were in complete disbelief. The man they thought to probably be dead or enslaved somewhere was actually well, alive, and lord over them. The children of Israel regretted what they had done, but Joseph forgave and comforted them - though they sold him into slavery, God had preplanned this and used their sin to send him ahead to Egypt to preserve life and a remnant for Israel on earth.



  1. We can obey all God says, yet still suffer for our obedience. Do not be discouraged if this is a situation you are in - Jesus and Joseph both suffered for doing what was right.
  2. God can make us fruitful in the land/time of our affliction. Lean on him and he can cause good things to come from our suffering, just as he did with Joseph and Jesus.
  3. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
  4. God can use terrible things - even sin or death - to bring about good. Even 1 Corinthians 15 says that our bodies are like seeds and unless our bodies die (as with a seed) we cannot experience the transforming resurrection (as with a tree). Through Joseph and Jesus we learn that God can even use sin and death to turn everything upside down into a victory for his cause and kingdom.
  5. All Scripture points to Jesus, read the Scripture in this light. See him everywhere in the Old Testament Scriptures and learn of why God sent him and of what we are to do because of it.
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