Easter Sunrise – 2017 LSB #461:1-4
Text – Job 19:25
For I know that my Redeemer lives, & at the last He will stand upon the earth.
I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVES
“Daddy?” A little hand touched my forehead. As my eyes opened they were fixed on the nightstand clock. It read “3:44.” That would be A.M. “Yeah, Jonathan?” “I need to go to the bathroom.” “Thanks for the update son. Go!” Jonathan was four at the time. Our house had just been remodeled & one bathroom was now at the end of a long hallway.
When you’re four years old & wandering the house in the middle of the night, a new hallway looks five miles long with multiple side rooms, where giants are waiting to jump out & eat little children for late-night snacks.
“Daddy?” “Yeah, Jonathan?” “Please come with me?” “Thanks for the invitation son, but for some reason, I’m a bit tired right now. You go ahead. I’ll be with you in spirit.” Shuffle. Shuffle. Stop. Turn around. Shuffle back. “Daddy?” “Yes, Jonathan?” “I need someone with their skin on!”
Jonathan knew that dark hallways are not conquered by the promise, “I’ll be with you in spirit.” A mystical, abstract, impersonal, vague presence does no one any good. Jonathan needed a strong hand guiding him, & a tender heart loving him. Jonathan needed someone with their skin on!
Job also knows about long, dark hallways. Come with me, to a God-forsaken, ash heap. There sits Job with a shaved head & sores all over his body. His ten children died when a tornado destroyed the home in which they were celebrating. Raiding bands from neighboring lands, & lightning from the sky, have taken all his animals & killed each of his servants.
It has all reduced Job from his former position as the greatest man in the east to being a
pitiful, ghastly sight, scraping himself with a piece of broken pottery. Any number of giants had jumped out & chewed up Job for a late-night snack. On this day of days, resurrection day, we wrap up the sermon series on the book of Job. The text is from Job 19:25, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
What does it mean? It means we are not insulated from life’s tragedies, but neither are we intimidated by them. It means we have someone to walk with us through life’s long, dark & winding hallway. And He has skin on! This verse is the Mt. Everest of the book of Job! This morning we unpack that truth.
As we climb the mountain, we begin at the first base camp – “I know.” Job is living his worst nightmare: “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” (Job 3:25) Yet Job doesn’t say, “I kind of think...” nor, “I sure would like it if...” nor, “Wouldn’t it be nice if...” nor, “Knock on wood... maybe...” No way, Jose!
Although Job has been severely assaulted, he is not defeated. Although he’s lost much that was valuable to him, he still has what was most precious. Although he is down, he is not out! Job dares to confess, “I know,” in spite of the fact that there’re a lot of things we don’t.
We don’t know why we had to bury the love of our life. We don’t know why that child turned against us. We don’t know why we lost that job. We don’t know why our parents emotionally abandoned us. Many times we don’t know what God is doing. But instead of living in whimpering sadness, letting the giants consume us, with Job we dare to say, “I know!”
“I know” what? “I know that my Redeemer.” Job does not say, “His Redeemer. Her Redeemer. Their Redeemer. Or even your Redeemer.” It is personal & particular. It is intimate & individual. It is, “my” Redeemer. In the OT, a redeemer was a close relative – someone with skin on – who would rescue, ransom, recover, or redeem anyone who had been, or who was in danger of being removed from the family by poverty, war, death, or a poor economy. For instance, if someone had fallen into debt & sold himself into slavery to pay it off, the redeemer bought him back & set him free.
If a piece of property had to be sold, the redeemer made sure that the title to the property remained in the family. If a member of the family was hurt or killed, the redeemer pursued the legal options & collected the damages assessed against the offender. Whatever goes bad your redeemer will make good. Let me say it again.
Whatever goes bad your redeemer will make good. What is broken will be mended, what is sick will be healed, whatever is lost will be restored & what is dead will be made alive! Really? That’s what Job 19:26 says, “And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.”
“I know my Redeemer.” His name is Jesus. He is not a mystical, abstract, impersonal & vague idea. Jesus has a strong hand guiding us & a tender heart loving us when we are faced with a long, dark hallway. As our Redeemer, Jesus comes not simply to see that justice is done, but that mercy is given.
Jesus bears whatever needs to be borne & carries whatever needs to be carried in order to see that our wrongs are righted. If a sentence needs to be served, He will serve it. If a fine needs to be paid, He will pay it. He does whatever it takes to set us free, even if it means giving His life for ours. You can say it, “Jesus forgives my guilt & Jesus destroys my grave.”
He did all of that with skin on. Skin that felt the Roman whip at a place called Gabbatha. Skin that felt the blazing Palestinian sun while carrying His cross-piece on the Via Dolorosa. Skin that felt the thorns on His head & the hammering of the nails into His hands & feet. Skin, muscles & nerves that, for six hours, bled on a cross all alone in the long, dark, God-forsaken hallway called Golgotha. And you can bet that there were giants who jumped out & chewed Jesus up like a late-night snack. Romans. Scribes. Pharisees. The thief on either side of His cross. And there was Satan who stalked our Savior, took aim, shot straight, & killed.
Three days later this cry rocked the world, “I know that my Redeemer . . . lives!” Now we stand on the top of the world. We can see everything! The angels announced, “He is alive!” John outran Peter to the tomb. Mary cried out “Rabboni!” The Emmaus disciples recognized the risen Christ in the breaking of the bread.
And when he saw the scars on the living Redeemer Doubting Thomas climactically said, “My Lord & my God!” Death is dead. The grave is defeated. The free gift of eternal life is absolutely yours forever & ever & ever!
People saw Jesus, literally. They didn’t see a phantom or experience a sentimental feeling. Eulogies often include such phrases as, “She’ll live on in my heart.” Christ’s followers didn’t say that because they saw Him, alive in the flesh. Jesus was physically & factually resurrected from the dead & many gave their lives to preach it. There’s a word for all of this.
Grace. Grace is the amazing gift our Creator gives us that says even when wrong is all around us, & at the very core of our lives, where we really are the most wrong, we’ll be all right because God forgives all our sins. Grace is the gift of power – the power to be freed to be the person God wants us to be.
Grace is the promise that on the days when we can barely cope with the circumstances of life we can carry within us the faith that our future will be better. Grace is the love poured out for us so that all our debts are paid, we are released from slavery, & our brokenness is repaired.
What’s it all mean? It means that whatever your dark hallway looks like, whatever your giants are saying, you do not walk alone. And why is that? “He lives, all glory to His name! He lives, my Jesus, still the same. Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives!’” (LSB 461:8) Hallelujah! Amen!
The peace of God that surpasses all human understanding will guard your hearts & your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet