The following is an excerpt taken from the twentieth and final lesson of Bible First.
Joseph is often acclaimed as the most complete type of Christ found in the Old Testament. Entire charts have been constructed to show the numerous parallels between the life of Joseph and the life of our Savior. Of all Joseph’s qualities, his forgiveness of those who had been his persecutors is among the most Christ-like.
As governor of Egypt, Joseph held the power to bring down crushing retribution against those who had hated, mocked and betrayed him. Amazingly, the Genesis record gives no indication that this course of action ever entered his mind.
Once Joseph had satisfied himself that his brothers were indeed repentant, his first thought was to reunite the divided family. His forgiveness of his brothers was complete and final. After their initial reunion, Joseph never once reminded his brothers of their wickedness. Never did he point out the fulfillment of his childhood dreams, or emphasize his superiority.
In fact, when Joseph’s brothers, fearing a delayed vengeance, came to plead for mercy after Jacob’s death, Joseph was moved to tears as he reassured them of his intention to care for them and their families.
When Christ died at Calvary, He too was the clear victim of animosity from the very ones who should have loved and received Him. He could have called down legions of angels to destroy His oppressors but chose rather to endure the cross that He might save them.
The Bible states clearly that, when a person comes to God through faith in Jesus Christ, he receives complete and lasting forgiveness of all sin. (Colossians 2:13, Ephesians 1:7) Whereas the repetitious process of ritual confession found in many religions produces uncertainty and doubt, Biblical forgiveness in Christ is a one-time occurrence, assuring the believer that all his sins–past, present and future–are put away “As far as the east is from the west…” (Psalm 103:12)
Joseph’s Forgiveness in Genesis
“…We pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him…And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.” (Genesis 50:17, 19–21)
Christ’s Forgiveness in the New Testament
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” (Luke 23:34)
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7)
“Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man [Christ] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:” (Acts 13:38)
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
“I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.” (1 John 2:12)
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;” (Colossians 2:13)