Today I went to the daily lectionary page of pcusa.org for some inspiration. Today’s Old Testament reading was Genesis 37:25-36, the scene in which Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery ‘down the river Nile’ in Egypt. This struck me as an odd story on which to focus during Lent. The Gospel reading, Mark 1:29-45 covered the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law, healing of many people who were brought over to her home that evening, and a leper the next morning when he had gone apart from the group to pray. This continuation of the story of Jesus seemed much more appropriate.
Then I got thinking…
Joseph was very popular with his father and, in the eyes of his brothers, spoiled. They were all older than he was and all had a right to a place higher in the pecking-order of esteem and inheritance than he should have had. They were the ones who deserved the attention.
Imagine now that the role of the older brothers is, in the New Testament, taken by the Scribes and Pharisees of his day. Jesus, despite all that he had done for people in need, made these people nervous, even jealous. What did these older brothers do? They sold Jesus down the river, or up the cross to be more accurate.
When Joseph was sold, it turned out to be to the benefit of all of Israel. It had all been part of God’s plan. Likewise, when Jesus was sent to the cross, through the planning of the Caiaphas and the betrayal by Judas, it was for the benefit of all people.