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Summary: Dramatic monologue on Joseph

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“Joseph’s Story”

Dr. Bill Groover

Tallahassee, Florida

© 1998, 2002, William A. Groover Jr., Ph.D. Preachers may use this sermon or any part in worship if no publication is involved. No credit to the author is required, but an e-mail to DrBillGroover@aol.com will be appreciated. I’d also appreciate hearing any improvements suggested, and be allowed to incorporate those in the next revision. Thank you.

I am Joseph, Son of Jacob, the King of Israel! I am the rightful heir to the throne of my ancestor King David. So why am I dressed more like a Palestinian carpenter than a king, you ask? Because king or no king, I am a carpenter. My Mother wanted me to be a Doctor, but would I listen? I am afraid another, a usurper, sits on MY throne. Being a descendant of David in my country was about like being a descendant of George Washington in your country. People are interested, but it gets you nothing.

My wife Mary, too, is a descendant of King David. The only problem is, though royal blood flows through both our bodies, we’re just common poor people.

There are three classes of people where we live: the rich, the poor, and slaves. Often, the slaves had better than the poor--at least they had someone rich looking out for their investment and feeding them! But even though we were poor, we hardly knew it. Everyone we knew was poor, and we had the same things everybody else had: family, friends, and our faith. And we were happy!

Except when there was a drought and a famine, we really only had two problems: the Romans, and our religion.

The worst things about being occupied by Rome was just knowing they were there, and paying their taxes. They allowed us to govern ourselves--to an extent. And just so we wouldn’t hate them so much, they hired Jews to do their tax collecting (you may have heard of two: Levi or Matthew, and Zacchaeus). The Romans even let us keep our own religion and worship in the Temple. They did want us to acknowledge their religion was also true and Caesar was also Lord, but they learned not to press that one too much in Judea. Other peoples considered it fair and mutually respectful, but to a Jew, "The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!" So we prayed and prayed and begged the Lord to send his promised Messiah, his deliverer who would reestablish the Throne of David. And okay, if I wasn’t going to get to sit on it. At least I should be a member of the royal court, right? Oh, for Messiah to come!

And that brings me to our other problem, our religion. Well, our religion wasn’t exactly the problem. The people running our religion, they were the problem! We had two kinds of priests, and they were always at war with each other. You think Baptist preachers know how to fight, you guys know nothing, nothing I tell you!

We had the Pharisees who pushed the Law of Moses to ridiculous extremes, and especially the Sabbath laws. Why, even the LORD worked six days and even he rested on the Sabbath! They believed the Messiah would not come until all of Israel kept one Sabbath perfectly--then The LORD would send his Messiah and set us free. Now to keep the Sabbath means many things. For one, it means you cannot do any labor. Okay, so what then is labor? Labor, they decided, was to carry the weight of a two dried figs. Dried figs, mind you. What kind of lazy oaf says carrying a couple of dried figs is labor? A Pharisee, that’s who! Now think of it. Do any of you wear dentures? Don’t tell me already, I don’t want to know. But if you wear dentures, and they weigh more than two dried figs, you’re breaking the Law--and it’s because of YOU Messiah isn’t coming this week! Now, how would you like that preached at you regularly? You should thank the Lord you have such a wonderful preacher as Rabbi Groover, you should.

But you could do worse. You could have a Sadducee. These people I’m not sure believed anything. They didn’t believe in angels, prophecy, or the resurrection of the dead. I tell you what they believed--they believed in getting along with the Romans, they did! “Hear, O Israel! Go along, and get along!” that was the Sadducees’ creed. I really don’t think they wanted Messiah to come and upset the pomegranate cart for them.

So, what was a fellow to do? I was neither a Pharisee nor a Sadducee. I just wanted to worship the Lord, obey his Law, and wait for his promised Messiah.

Well, at least I found a young woman who wanted the same things. Oh, what a wonderful girl she is, too. Beautiful, sweet, and oh!--so pleasant to be around. But let me tell you about our marriage customs. Rich people arranged marriages to keep power and wealth within their families. But we were poor; there was no wealth or power about which to be concerned. So we were much freer to choose for ourselves. So when a young man was somewhere between 18 and 30, he chose a wife, usually a girl between 12 and 15. First they would be engaged or betrothed--espoused to be married we called it--sometimes for a whole year! It was as legally binding as the marriage itself. To break off the engagement, you had to get a divorce.

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Terry Kemp

commented on Dec 9, 2006

Excellent sermon. I originally intended to prepare my own monologue, but as a bi-vocational minister, I simply didn't have the time. Instead, I'm going to read it as though an ancient document Dr. Grover has recently discovered.

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