We all know the song from the musical, don’t we?
“I wore my coat
With golden lining
Bright colours shining
Any dream will do”
The thing is, we’re not sure if it was a ‘technicolour dreamcoat’ or a long sleeved coat. What we do know is it was a special coat, a coat that stood out, a coat totally unsuitable for manual labour like looking after herds of sheep. It was a coat that singled Joseph out from his brothers. It was a coat that shouted favouritism.
Poor old Jacob, rich and successful he might be, but he headed a family divided by jealousy and competitiveness, caused by his favouritism, first of a wife, then of her sons. He was repeating exactly the same mistakes his parents had made with him and his brother. It led to insufferable behaviour from Joseph, jealous rage from his brothers, deception, and the loss of a child. And all from favouritism.
However, God doesn’t follow our human patterns of favouritism. Ultimately, He brought good out of evil by using Joseph in his later exalted position in Egypt to rescue the whole family from famine. But it’s not from Joseph’s line that He establishes the great leaders and kings of Israel the nation; that falls to the descendants of Judah, a man who wanted to kill his brother and later slept with an apparent prostitute who turned out to be his own widowed daughter in law. Later on, God doesn’t choose the eldest, strongest, best looking son of Jesse to become Israel’s greatest king – no, He goes for the youngest, the afterthought almost, David.
And it is from these ancestors that the Gospels trace Jesus’ own genealogy. The Messiah Himself counts among his forebears: liars, cheats, murderers, prostitutes, drunks, and adulterers. God certainly doesn’t choose the obvious human favourites to carry out His plans.
And that should be a great encouragement to us. It’s not an excuse for poor behaviour. But it is a reassurance not to compare ourselves with others and think they are better Christians than us or that God likes them better than us. God isn’t like Jacob’s family – He doesn’t have favourites – but He does have special white robes and crowns waiting for all of us.
(Gradually catching up on posts from being ill – thanks for you patience)