Sibling rivalry. We’ve seen it before with Cain and Abel. Maybe we’ve experienced it in our own lives. Who has better grades? Who makes more money? Who is the parent’s favorite? We will learn how jealousy consumes, taints, and darkens hearts. Through Christ we gain a bigger perspective, setting our eyes on the eternal prize. First, let’s look at Joseph.
Through Joseph we see a powerful image of Christ our shepherd (John 10:11). Jesus did not come to this earth with a crown of gold while riding the biggest horse. Instead, He rode on a donkey (John 12:14), washed sinner’s feet (John 13:1-17), and ate with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:10-11).
Who was Joseph specifically? We meet him as a teenager and his father’s favorite son. One might immediately think “immature,” “spoiled brat,” “childish,” and “not ready for the real world.” But Joseph was different. He was a humble worker, shepherding in the fields, caring for his elderly father. He did report to his father of his brother’s bad deeds. Yet these reports were not those of maliciousness, but one of faithfulness and concern for his family. He did not try and control/teach/reprimand them himself, but instead reported the issues to the one in authority. It’s one of those, “We know it is wrong, but who are we to judge?” moments (Matthew 7:1-6). Parent’s impartiality is important when raising children, yet when some go far astray preferential treatment may be unavoidable. Sometimes we know someone we love has done something awful, and we have to report it. We may become their enemy, but in our hearts we did it out of true care and concern for them. We also yearn to find favor in our heavenly Father’s eyes. Often times finding that favor leads to the world hating and cursing us. Eternal life with the most powerful is worth it. Finding community with fellow Christians, those who have favor with the Lord, helps carry the burdens of the world’s attacks.
“Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.” – Proverbs 9:8
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2
Joseph found favor in his father’s eyes, and he received something most of us have heard before in children stories: the coat of many colors. It was coat with long sleeves, something you would never see field workers sporting in those days. Of course, this only heightened his brothers’ jealousies and hatred. It’s that feeling you get when a rookie teammate wins MVP, or that new co-worker gets a huge bonus for having a high score in customer service. But what if beyond that, they become nationally recognized or get a major promotion, over you. Joseph’s dreams were this final tipping point for his brothers.
I find this next part oddly comforting. Joseph was already an outcast in his world, but he was given peace by both his earthly and heavenly fathers. A royal coat and prophetical dreams at only seventeen? What better preparation for his heart in the unexpected rough times ahead. He was given a light at the end of the tunnel, that he would reign over all his brothers who had given him such a hard time. Like Christ, who knew after all of His suffering on this earth that He soon would be united with His Father in Heaven. Like us, knowing that God Almighty sent His perfect son to die and suffer for us so that we could have everlasting life in Heaven (John 3:16). Pretty awesome.