Joseph and His Brothers

Theme: Jealousy can lead to terrible sin. Proper 14 (19) Year A
Object: A box with many pieces of cloth of different colors.
Scripture: Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph — a beautiful robe. Genesis 37:3 (NLT)

Look at my big box. Can you guess what's inside? Let's take a look and see. Oh my! Look at all of these pieces of brightly colored cloth; red, blue, green, yellow, purple, and orange. There is just about every color you can imagine. Wouldn't it be beautiful to take all of these pieces of cloth and sew them together into a shirt or a dress? I imagine that if you had a shirt or dress with so many beautiful colors, everyone who saw it would be very jealous and wish that they had one too.

That reminds me of a story in the Bible about a boy named Joseph. Jacob, Joseph's father, had twelve sons. Of all his sons, he loved Joseph best because he was born to him in his old age. To show how much he loved Joseph, he made him a beautiful coat that had many colors. Joseph's brothers were jealous because it showed that he was his father's favorite son.

A few days later Joseph’s father said to him, "Your brothers are out tending my sheep. I want you to go check and make sure that they are ok." Joseph did what his father told him, but when his brothers saw him coming, they made plans to kill him.

"Let’s kill him and throw him into a pit and say that he was eaten by a wild animal."

When Reuben, the oldest of the brothers heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. "Let's not take his life. Instead, let’s throw him into this pit here in the desert, but don't harm him. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him." Reuben said this because he planned to come back later and rescue Joseph and take him back to his father.

When Joseph arrived, his brothers grabbed him, ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing, and threw him into the pit. Then they sat down to eat their dinner. As they were eating, they looked up and saw a caravan of merchants coming their way. They were on their way to Egypt. "What will we gain if we kill our brother? Let's sell him to these merchants instead." So when the merchants came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him up out of the pit and sold him for twenty pieces of silver.

The brothers began make up a story to tell their father. They killed a goat and smeared its blood over Joseph's coat of many colors. They took the bloody coat back to Jacob and said to him. "We found this bloody coat in the wilderness. Look at it and see if it is Joseph’s coat."

"It is my son's coat!" Jacob cried. "Surely some ferocious animal has eaten him."

What a terrible thing for Joseph's brothers to do -- just because they were jealous of their brother. I hope that we would never do anything so terrible, but we can learn from this story that jealousy can cause us to do things that will hurt other people. It is something that we should guard against. We have to learn to be happy with whatever our Heavenly Father has given us.

Before we close, I must tell you that this is not the end of the story of Joseph and his brothers. The story does have a happy ending and Joseph is reunited with his father and brothers. But for today, we learn the lesson of the terrible things that happen because of the sin of jealousy.

Father, you love all of your children and you want the very best for them. Help us to guard against feelings of jealousy that might come into our heart. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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