The Supremacy of Christ in Suffering

This is the third of a three part (and possibly more) series on the Sovereignty of God and the Supremacy of Christ.

Merriam Webster defines “supremacy” as being in the highest rank, authority, or power.

When we look at the life of Joseph in Genesis 37 and 39-46 we’re usually taught a handful of things as we grow up in church. We’re taught that because Joseph saved during the seven years of plenty so he’d have food for the seven years of famine, that we should save money while we have it so we’re not completely broke when we’re broke. We’re taught to “trust God until it all works out”. Then we’re taught that God can indeed use the socially awkward, which Joseph must have been because he actually told his family about the dream where they all bowed down to him.

While the third is relatively comical, it’s true. While the first is definitely a good practice, if that’s all that’s mentioned in a message or teaching over this, please, close your Bible and smack the teacher with it. Hard. Then we come to trusting in God, which the rest of Scripture is clear that we are to do. From what basis are we trusting in God though, or what validates our trusting Him?

The basis of our trust in God is His sovereignty and supremacy. Joseph was by no means there by accident, and it wasn’t random that his brothers sold him into slavery. Joseph was sovereignly guided by the hand of God, through the actions of men, to be positioned so that God may fulfill a promise He made to Abram in Genesis 15:1-16. The key text concerning Joseph is below.

Genesis 15:12-16 ESV

[12] As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. [13] Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. [14] But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. [15] As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. [16] And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

Alright, so we see God telling Abram that not only will Abram have many descendants, but He also straight up calls Egypt when He tells Abram that his “offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years”. Joseph is the initiation of the fulfillment of this prophecy. We also see the passive wrath of God here because He tells Abram that after the four hundred years, the Israelites would come back to this land, because the “iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete”. So the Amorites were being wicked, but it wasn’t time for God to display His active wrath by destroying them yet, so “…God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” (Romans 1:24). The Amorites wanted to chase down idols and false gods, so God let them do so until it was time to display His active wrath toward them, which we see in the Exodus when the Israelites are commanded to destroy everyone inhabiting the land (Deuteronomy 7:1-2, Joshua 9:24).

So we trust God because He is sovereign and supreme over all creation and the He turns the hearts of men wherever He pleases (Proverbs 21:1). What are we trusting Him to do though? If we only look at the life of Joseph without relating it to the meta-narrative, or the story of the entire Bible, then we could very easily come away with a lesson of “Just trust God until He makes it better”. First, I would submit that we don’t see that type of faith in Joseph. He trusted God regardless. Which leads me to my second point, if we’re only trusting God to “make it better”, then are we not saying that we’re trusting God to give us something that we really consider to be more valuable that Him? If we’re trusting God as merely a means to an end of security and stability, are we not saying that Christ is not enough for us? Are we not then saying that Christ is insufficient? I know most of us wouldn’t actually say that, but our actions often reveal what we are consciously or unconsciously thinking and feeling, even when we know better than to vocalize our thoughts and feelings. Are we not then saying that faith in God is a means to achieving our idol of security and stability? God did indeed bring things around for Joseph personally, only to make the Israelites enslaved to the Egyptians for four hundred years, deliver them from Egypt to have them walk around in the desert for forty years, and then wage constant war against anyone and everyone in the promised land. Most people wouldn’t consider that “being better” in the grand scheme of things. Yet God is sovereignly working and positioning man and history to be ready for the Messiah.

And then what about the disciples? They were all murdered with the exception of John, who was boiled alive and then exiled because he didn’t die. What about Stephen who was stoned to death? And to make it more real, what about Said Musa who has been in an Afghan jail and awaits execution for faith in Christ? What part of “being better” does this resemble? No, we do not trust Christ to merely make things better, but that He will be faithful to Himself and to His Word which means He will be faithful to us, whatever the temporal, material outcome. Pastor Matt Chandler of The Village Church rightly states that “The good news of the gospel is not that all my hurts go away. It’s that Jesus is enough regardless of the hurts.” Christ is sufficient in and of Himself, regardless of whether we have stability and security in this life. But the sufficiency of Christ is only experienced when one recognizes the supremacy of Christ. Only when we realize His positional supremacy can we value Him supremely.

Christ is enough because He is sovereign and supreme over all creation and has defeated death, so when we die we know that we go to be with Him. Death is only a threat to our physical bodies, and is controlled by God. Christ is enough because it is He who controls our life and death, and whether our temporal life resembles Bill Gates or John the Baptizer, Jesus is enough because He is sovereign and supreme.

So we see in the life of Joseph that the Trinitarian God of the Bible is enough for us in this life, in and of Himself, and we see through the lives of the disciples that even if it doesn’t “get better” and we are persecuted unto death, like our brother Said is scheduled to be, that Jesus is enough because He is faithful to fulfill His promise of being sovereign over and supreme in death.

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