During some recent scripture study, I came across a type of Christ—an episode in scripture that exhibits a pattern from Christ’s own life or mission. A type is much like a parable in that it’s a comparison that helps us understand an aspect of the gospel to a greater degree. Hence, I’m going to try something a little different on The Weekly Parable and occasionally throw a type of Christ from the scriptures into the mix.
The story is well known of Joseph, the son of Israel, being sold into slavery by his envious brothers, ending up in Egypt, and then being tasked by Pharaoh with preparing Egypt for the famine that would come seven years later. Possibly less well known are the interactions Joseph had with his brothers when Israel sent them down to Egypt to buy food for the family (told in Genesis 42–44) and what the Lord wants us to learn from that part of the story.
When Joseph’s brothers came to him, Joseph recognized them and decided to test them. He detained Simeon while the rest went home with food (and the price of the food secretly placed in their bags). Joseph would set Simeon free only if the other men brought their youngest brother, Benjamin, with them the next time.
They did so, but this time when the brothers left Egypt, Joseph not only had their money put back in their sacks, but he had his own cup put in Benjamin’s sack. Then he sent his steward after them to accuse them of thievery. So confident was Reuben that none of them committed the alleged crime that he said, in effect, “Whoever has the cup will have to die for stealing it.” And then the cup was found with Benjamin. They returned to Egypt to face Joseph, whose true identity they still didn’t realize.
Joseph wanted to see if they had matured and if they cared about Benjamin and about their father enough to try to keep him from having to stay in Egypt. Joseph told them that it wasn’t necessary for anyone to die because of the cup, but he did require that Benjamin stay with him as his servant. This is where the type of Christ occurs.
I’ve read this story multiple times before without catching it, but somehow this time it caught my attention. Judah stepped forward and asked Joseph’s indulgence as he rehearsed why they had brought Benjamin and how they had to convince Israel to let Benjamin go to Egypt. Then he said, “For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever. Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant”—meaning himself—”abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brethren” (Gen. 44:32–33).
In other words, Judah offered himself as a substitute for Benjamin so that his little brother could go free from a life of servitude. Speaking succinctly, this is what Jesus did for us. In this story, Judah unwittingly took the role of the One who would be the greatest of his descendants.
Without any intervention, because of the stain of our sins we would be prisoners forever. The prophet Jacob explained, “Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. … And our spirits must have become like unto [the devil] … to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery” (2 Ne. 9:7, 9).
Jesus taught His apostles, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32). Later, during the Last Supper, He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). So to continue in His word is to come to know Him, and to know Him is to be set free through His sacrifice. To provide an escape from the prison Jacob described, Jesus suffered for our sins and can remove the stain. Because of him, we can go free.
I’ll admit that I probably don’t let the significance of this settle upon my mind as much as I should. If not for Christ, I would be consigned to eternal filthiness and misery, unable to know what it’s like to be clean, unable to obtain the prize of a perfect body via resurrection. It would be many times worse than any dark day I’ve experienced in my life, and every day and night, the reality that it would never get better would stare me in the face.
The reason to celebrate Easter is that this grim future doesn’t have to be. In fact, Jesus will set us free from prison by virtue of the resurrection He secured for every person who has been and ever will be born. We don’t have to worry about that part. Our responsibility is to repent and follow Christ, to continue in his word, and He will set us free of the stain of our sins because of the shedding of His blood.
I wish you a happy Easter and hope you and I will gain a greater love and appreciation for the Only Begotten Son of God as we celebrate His victory over sin and death.
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Beautiful message! Very appropriate for this season but could be repeated all the year through. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you, David! I hope you have a wonderful Easter.