Christ Prefigured in the Patriarch Joseph

The Lord be with you,

In his afternoon sermon, delivered on Easter Tuesday, April 3, 1526, Martin Luther considered several Old Testament people and how they prefigured Jesus. The excerpt below is his treatment of the Patriarch Joseph. I like it because it is very similar to my approach to the story in my D.Min. project where I used Joseph’s story for some of my Old Testament images that prefigured the Passion.

Joseph belongs here (in the list of OT people that prefigure Jesus): he was sold by his brothers [Gen. 37:12-36] and thrown into prison because of the harlot [Gen. 39:7-20]. (A woman wanted to persuade him to sleep with her, but he did not agree). Afterward he was brought out [of prison] and made a ruler and fed not only Egypt but also other peoples [Gen. 41:37-45]—and he had also been born from a barren woman [Gen. 30:22-24]. When he had grown up, his father had made him a robe of many colors [Gen. 37:3]. For that reason, the other [brothers] hated him until they sold him; that is, the Jews who ought to have received Christ were hostile toward Him and handed Him over to the Gentiles to be killed. Joseph was captive [in prison], that is, Christ was in death; when Joseph came forth from the prison, he put on garments of fine linen and rings [Gen. 41:42]. (At last Pharaoh put on him a white garment indicating priesthood and a ring indicating his authority. That is, Christ came out of death and put on immortal life and a ring; that is, He became King and feeds not only Egypt but also comforts the whole world with His Gospel.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works v. 56, p. 175