Easter Day – Festival of the Resurrection
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My Redeemer Lives For Me
If it goes on the board. The students in my catechism class know what those words mean. A student asks a question and I need to give an answer. So I go to the whiteboard and write down the answer. If it’s a teaching in the bible that the student needs to know, not just for the test, but forever, I write it on the board. And, in every place I’ve ever lived, the same pattern follows. I write on the board. And this is the reaction: The students stare at the board, at me, or out the window. But what is not happening? They are not actually writing down the words in their notes. So, to wake them up a little, I say the words, if it goes on the board, what should you do? They answer, “we should write them in our notes.” For, especially when it comes to God’s word, we want these to be truths that don’t just stay for a day. Instead, we want them to stay for a lifetime. Today, an ancient man, with pain and hope in his lungs cries out that same thought. There are words he needs to speak. There are truths he needs to share. And they need to be written down so they will be preserved forever. In Job 19, we read these words: “23 I wish that my words were written down, that they were recorded on a scroll 24 or were inscribed in stone forever by an iron stylus and lead!” (Job 19:23–24 CSB17)
In these words we meet a man who endured much misery. In one day he lost his flocks and herd. He lost his sons and daughters. Soon after he would lose his health in enduring sickness. And, as the chapters go on, his friends blamed him for it instead of consoling him. Here in the middle of the book Job cries out with all the faith and frustration inside of him. He wants, he prays that that what is in his heart would be written down and remembered forever. And, by God’s Holy Spirit it has been. And what is the truth he wants us still today to know and cling to? “25 But I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust. 26 Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh. 27 I will see him myself; my eyes will look at him,” (Job 19:25–27 CSB17)
He wants us to know that his Redeemer lives for him. There is this powerful imagery in these words. Job knows that someday he will die. But he knows that first, his body will be surrounded by dirt.1 And then, when this happens his skin will dissolve to dust. But, finally, at the end, his Redeemer will stand on top of his dust. His Redeemer will reach down, and take his hand and lead him back to life. And Job will see his Redeemer with from his own flesh and with his own eyes.
These words mean so much to us today. For we live with the same truth. Season after season, we lay our dear friends and family members to rest in our cemetery. And, if Jesus delays in coming, we too will join them. And Jesus gives us both this promise and this picture of what will happen on that day. Our skin will be surrounded by dirt. Our bodies will dissolve and decay back into dust. But, Jesus will stand with us and have us stand on that day. And we will see him from our own bodies and with our own eyes.
These words are so comforting because they remove the reason for our fear. One of the fears we have is that, after we die, there is nothing. We are afraid that God either doesn’t exist or that he does exist and doesn’t care. And so, we are afraid that when we die we will be forgotten by our loved ones or by God above. These words show us that each of us can say, “My Redeemer lives for me.” And we know this because, on the last day, he will stand with me. But there’s more: “and not as a stranger.” (Job 19:27 CSB17)
Notice the amazing detail that Job adds at the end. Each of us can say that I know my Redeemer lives for me. I know this because he stands with me. And that addresses the fear that there is nothing there when we die. But there is another fear we have. We have the fear that there really and truly is something there when we die. That something is the wrath and anger of God. We deserve estrangement and separation from God because of the many times and many ways we followed our twisted hearts. How many times did our Lord invite us to follow and find joy in him, and instead we found joy in other people and places? How many times did we know what was wrong, and we still did it anyway? What we deserve at the end is estrangement and separation from God in hell.
But that’s where these last few words are so wonderful to see. Jesus will stand with us as he raises us. But as he makes us stand, we will not be a stranger to him. Instead we will be his dear, close friend. He became our friend by being faithful in our place. For all the times his word, his work, his will weren’t as exciting as our own paths and plans—he put his Father’s will in front of our own. He says to us: “I was faithful in your place.” But he does even more. He says, “I was estranged in your place.” On Good Friday he was estranged from and abandoned by God—for you. And finally, Jesus rose so that, instead of a stranger, you would be his friend forever.
Where does that leave us this morning? Job concludes with these words: “My heart longs within me.” (Job 19:27 CSB17) Job says that his kidneys are dissolving from the inside.2 That’s the OT way of saying that you long and yearn for something so much that it hurts. How amazing it is that, instead of fearing death, we could be in a place where we actually long and yearn for it. We do not need to fear that, at the end there is nothing. We do not need to fear, that at the end, there is something, and that something that is waiting for us is God’s wrath and anger. And, instead of living each day here on this earth in fear, we now live at peace. And all of this is true because each of us can say, “I know my Redeemer lives for me.” He will stand with me. And I will not be a stranger to him. Amen.
1 ”עוֹרִֽי נִקְּפוּ־זֹ֑את“ (Job 19:26 BHS-T)
2 ”כָּל֖וּ כִלְיֹתַ֣י בְּחֵקִֽי“ (Job 19:27 BHS-T)