Sunday 18 June 2023

Hints of Resurrection - Job 14 & 19

Job finds himself in a depressed and dark place - he sees the negative, the walls closing in, the outlook is bleak. So basically he wishes that he was dead. We have to be honest about this, because it resonates with feelings that a number of people will have - young people, older people, in fact across the age groups people today find themselves in a similar place.

Job looks at nature: trees can be felled and yet re-sprout, but he compares this with humans who once they die then that is the end. He feels that he just wants to skip to that 'dead' stage - does he have a reason to live? He doesn't think so. And yet he has this sense, a sense that there is life beyond death. In 14:13 to 17 he has a notion that God after death will have finally dealt with all that is bad in us, that we might now be with God and it will be OK. Is this just a gut feeling for Job? Is it speculation? Does he have any basis to have this hope?

Years later a man called Jesus lived, demonstrated and taught: he released people from the cages they were in - be it sickness, held low by other people's opinions or prejudices. He gave people a reason to live. In short he demonstrated the 'Kingdom of God', how things look when things start lining up with how God wants them to be. That is something we talk about here as a church - we too want to see aspects of the Kingdom of God, people finding the release they need.

Jesus said many things, but here are a couple of highlights said in his final days: 'I am going ahead of you, I will prepare a place for you with my heavenly Father', and 'I will send my Spirit - though I will be taken I will not leave you alone as orphans'. Now not everyone liked Jesus. He was taken, beaten up, killed by hanging to die on a Roman cross. For his followers that must have been devastating - their hopes dashed and the outlook plunged into bleak. But for them Jesus then appeared, within just a few days, standing in their room. This wasn't a ghost - they could talk with him, touch him, and he ate with them. What Jesus was showing them was that he had died, but is now risen! He showed them that death is not the end.

So the 'speculation' on the part of Job is now shown to be a reality for those first followers of Jesus - there is life beyond the grave. This is the basis on which we have faith. Ours is not just wishy washy feeling or 'nice positive thoughts'. No it is based on the reality - seen by his followers - that Jesus is alive today. Since we have hope in the risen Jesus, it gives us a reason to live right now.

In the Job 19 passage, in amongst his bleak sense of loneliness, he is able to say 'I know that my redeemer lives ... that after my skin has been destroyed in my flesh I will see God'. Somehow, even in his personal darkness, he knew that death wasn't the end, that there is a resurrection body to look forward to. We might go through incredibly bleak or dark times ourselves, but remember that Jesus rose again from the dead - he showed his followers his new resurrection skin! That fact can shine as a light into the darkness of our live, even into our darkest moments. It's a light that shows us a reason to live in the here and now.

It is a light that we can receive and allow to illuminate our lives in faith. We can choose to block it out, or we can allow it in - that is our own faith decision. We have people young and in their adulthood choosing to be baptised - that is them saying "I see this now, my life makes sense in Jesus, so faith-wise I want you all to know that I am now all in!". You too can make a similar choice. It may be very tentative at first, but you are open to more. Or you may now realise there is something about Jesus to discover, so you are 'yes' to discovering more. Or maybe His light shining you is finally convincing, and so you are 'YES' to all He is and all He has for you. Whatever your response, we would love to journey with you!

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