Summary: Although forgotten by others, Joseph was never forgotten by his God and neither are we.
If someone tells you that they’re feeling blue, they don’t mean they’re turning into a smurf. They mean that they’re sad and feel that they are without hope. We all suffer from the blues from time to time – especially on dreary October mornings when we know we have six months of winter ahead of us. But the color blue has a totally different significance in the church. It stands for hope because it reminds us of the sky and our home in heaven. Blue is sometimes used as the color for the season of Advent. That’s when we express our hope in Jesus’ coming. As we continue the sermon series entitled “Joseph: a life of many colors,” blue will remind us of both the despair and hope that Joseph experienced during his time in Egypt.
Let’s get warmed up for the sermon by reviewing some essential facts about Joseph. Go ahead and voice the answers if you know them. Joseph was the son of…Jacob, and the great grandson of…Abraham. Joseph had how many brothers? Eleven. Ten of whom hated him and sold him into slavery. That’s how Joseph ended up in…Egypt where he was sold to the captain of the palace guard. His name was…Potiphar. When Joseph spurned Potiphar’s wife’s advances, she convinced her husband to imprison Joseph. That’s where we pick up the true story.
If you ended up in jail for doing the right thing like Joseph had done, how would you handle the situation? Would you rattle the cell bars and demand to see your lawyer so you could countersue Potiphar’s wife for slander? Or would you just ball up into a corner of your cell and pray that the nightmare would end? Joseph did neither. Although he wasn’t happy about being in prison, the Lord continued to be with him and Joseph made the best of his situation. He served cheerfully when the warden put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners.
Perhaps you are feeling imprisoned by your situation in life. You spent years and thousands of dollars to get a degree, but instead of moving up the corporate ladder you’re spending your days running up and down the stairs at home to pick up after others. It’s easy to feel resentful. Or if you work at a place where no one appreciates your talents or thanks you for your effort, you probably want to bail. But when you consider the benefits you would lose by doing so you resign yourself to resuming the slow count down until retirement. But Joseph’s example reminds us that there is no such thing as a dead-end job – not if you believe that you’re working for the Creator of the universe and not just for a paycheck.
This truth allowed Joseph to serve cheerfully even if he was in prison. One morning he noticed that two of his fellow prisoners were feeling blue. The two men were officials in Pharaoh’s household. One was the cupbearer and the other was the chief baker. These men were sad because they both had dreams for which they were certain there was an important meaning but they didn’t know what that was. Don’t you think Joseph would have been justified in saying to these men: “You think you’ve got problems? Let me tell you about mine. My brothers sold me into slavery! And then this good-for-nothing wife of Potiphar…” But there was none of that. Instead Joseph showed real interest in these men when he not only noticed that they were sad, but asked for the reason. And he didn’t do this because God had whispered: “One of these guys is your ticket out of here, Joseph. So be nice.”
Friends, even though you might not be in the situation that you want, it’s where God has placed you right now. You can grumble and complain but you’re not just making yourself more miserable, you’re giving in to your sinful selfishness thinking that life is all about you. It isn’t. Instead God has called us to take a genuine interest in others like co-workers, fellow church members, and of course family. Coax them to share with you what’s on their mind. It’s the kind of unselfish life that God has called us to live...even in prison if that’s where we should somehow end up.
When the baker and cupbearer expressed their regret that there was no one around to interpret their dreams, Joseph set them straight when he explained that only God can give the meaning of dreams. Since Joseph believed God would share the meaning of those dreams with him if that was his will, he invited the men to describe them. The cupbearer dreamt about three branches of grapes which he picked clean and crushed to fill Pharaoh’s cup. Joseph said this meant that in three days’ time the cupbearer would be restored to his position with Pharaoh. The baker on the other hand dreamt he was carrying three baskets of bread on his head that birds kept eating. Joseph said this signified that in three days the baker would be executed.