Seven Ways Joseph Foreshadowed Jesus

Rev. Tony Cooke

In my upcoming book, Magnificent Jesus, I quote Henrietta Mears who said, “Make Christ magnificent in the eyes of man.” J. C. Ryle also said, “Above all, let us never forget the advice which Whitefield gave in one of his letters, let us ‘make much of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ There are many things of which we may easily make too much in our ministry, give them too much attention, think about them too much. But we can never make too much of Christ.”

One of the ways the Bible honors Jesus is through the multitude of prophecies leading up to his first coming, and this includes the prophetic pictures or “foreshadowings” of Christ. This includes the Ark of Noah, the bronze serpent, and the sacrificial lamb. It also included people, and in this article, we’re going to focus on one of these: Joseph.

There are at least seven parallels between the lives of Joseph, the son of Jacob, and that of Jesus.

  • Both were highly favored of their Father.

Joseph: “Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age” (Genesis 37:3).

Jesus: “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy” (Matthew 3:17).

  • Both experienced challenges from their brothers.

Joseph: “His brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him” (Genesis 37:4).

Jesus: “When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. ‘He’s out of his mind,’ they said” (Mark 3:21); “even his brothers didn’t believe in him” (John 7:4).

  • Both resisted temptation.

Joseph: “How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God” (Genesis 39:9).

Jesus: “[Jesus] was tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NIV).

  • Both experienced betrayal and false accusations.

Joseph: His brothers sold him into slavery (see Genesis 37:26-28). Potiphar’s wife accused him falsely (see Genesis 39:1-20).

Jesus: Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss (see Luke 22:47-48). False accusations were leveled against Jesus at his trial (see Mark 14:55-59).

  • Both were sold (betrayed) for a price.

Joseph: Twenty pieces of silver (see Genesis 37:28)

Jesus: Thirty pieces of silver (see Matthew 26:15)

  • Both were exalted after massive setbacks.

Joseph: “Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck. Then he had Joseph ride in the chariot reserved for his second-in-command… So Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all Egypt” (Genesis 41:42-43).

Jesus: “God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names” (Philippians 2:9).

  • Both were a source of rescue and salvation.

Joseph: After executing his plan and in the midst of great famine: “Joseph opened up the storehouses and distributed grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout the land of Egypt. And people from all around came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe throughout the world” (Genesis 41:56-57).

Jesus: Through his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus made eternal life, acceptance, and all the blessings of God available to all who receive him.

Nothing Jesus did was happenstance or figured out on the fly. He was “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8 NKJV) and when he died it was by God’s “prearranged plan” (Acts 2:23 NLT). Because God knew the end from the beginning, he could magnificently fill the Old Testament with hundreds of prophetic statements and pictures (types and shadows) that Jesus would ultimately fulfill.