Friday, February 25, 2011

The Costly Free Gift

Most people are aware of the story of Joseph in the Bible.  Many are aware that Joseph is considered a "type" of Jesus.  In other words, Joseph was a living picture which teaches us things about Jesus. 

In the case of the Cupbearer and the Baker, for example, we see at least two parallels.

First we see the two thieves on the cross, one who was lost and one who was saved.  Next we see the bread and the wine, the two elements of communion at the Last Supper.

There are many more similar parallels or pictures of the life of Jesus in the story of Joseph.  However, the picture that follows in this essay is somewhat unique. I discovered this while studying Scripture, but have never seen it written anywhere else and have yet to meet anyone who had seen the same.  If you know where I may find this written in another place, please let me know.

This essay relates to Genesis 41-47.

The Bread of Life

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

In the book of John, Jesus declares that he is the bread of life.  In the story of Joseph, because there was a famine in the land and Joseph controlled all of the existing grain, it could be said that Joseph held in his hand "the bread of life".

The Free Gift

There are many more details to the story, but for the purpose of this essay we will only address the points that are pertinent.

When Joseph's brothers came to buy grain the first time, they were sent away with their grain and secretly their silver.  When they returned to buy grain a second time, they brought back double the silver in order to pay for the grain from the previous trip as well as the additional grain they were hoping to buy.  They brought back double the silver because they feared this Egyptian ruler would have them put to death for “stealing silver”, even though they did not put their silver in their bags. Joseph did.

Not only were they given additional grain and all of their silver, they were also told to go home, collect their family and bring nothing back on the trip.  Pharaoh communicated through Joseph. Pharaoh instructed Jacob to forget about all his goods and come to Egypt where the best of Egypt would be at his disposal.

Therefore, we see that for the Israelites, the bread of life held in the hand of Joseph was a free gift that they could not pay for even when they tried.

The Costly Gift

The Egyptians, on the other hand, had a different experience.  First they purchased grain with their silver.  When their silver ran out, Joseph sold them grain in exchange for all their livestock.  When their livestock was gone and they were facing death, they came to Joseph and said:

Genesis 47:18-19 When that year was ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, "We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent, and the cattle are my lord's. There is nothing left for my lord except our bodies and our lands. "Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be slaves to Pharaoh. So give us seed, that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate."

Therefore, we see that for the Egyptians, the bread of life held in the hand of Joseph was costly, even to the point of costing everything they had, including themselves.

The Paradox

Taken together we have the following illustration:

The bread of life, i.e. Salvation, is the free gift that costs you all you have.

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