Saturday, February 6, 2021

Epiphany 5


Our Old Testament lesson is quite a challenge for us. It shows Job at the lowest part of his suffering. There is no gospel here; no hope, and no solution.  It has only negative pessimism and despair. This is why there has to be a duel text for this morning!

Job shows the problem; the predicament of being a fallen soul living in a fallen world co-existing with fallen neighbors and family members. Job’s plight drives home the reality that we live in a broken world outside of Eden.

The Gospel presents Christ as the healer. Job stops at the point of hopelessness - With Christ as the healer we go beyond the suffering to the solution of that suffering. Let us approach the One who sent our Great Physician in prayer.

Collect for Psalm 13: Lord our God, by the light of the resurrection of your Son you have helped us see that we shall not sleep in death forever. Look upon the sufferings of your church, so that our hearts may rejoice in your saving help and sing you songs of praise; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.[1]

We have those times when we feel devastated by the sin and troubles in our lives.  Relatives and friends may counsel us to be patient; “as patient as Job” when all we want to do is cry out against all the injustice in life. Job felt that way! Job cried out! But what we also need to see is that when life gets you down the LORD God is still in control.

I.        Life at times can appear to be out of control.

A.     Satan and sin create havoc in our lives constantly.

1.      Job was caught up in the power of evil; he lost his family, his fortune, his livelihood and his health. If that were not enough he was tempted to doubt whether God even cared for him.

2.      Sin in the form of sickness and weakness can often beset us. This was Job’s lot in life. He was not being punished for any particular sin. To the contrary Satan argued that Job would fall like a house of cards if trouble entered his life. This is Satan’s cause - to bring misery into our lives so that we would give up hope.

3.      Even when we strive to be obedient worry and doubt can seize us. Job cries out to God insisting on his faithfulness - “But now be so kind as to look at me. Would I lie to your face? Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake. Is there any wickedness on my lips? Can my mouth not discern malice?” Job 6:28

B.     We can feel as Job did

1.      Life can become burdensome. Job speaks vividly about his lot “Are not his days like those of a hired man?"

Does not man have hard service on I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me…My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering.” (Vv.1, 3, 5)

2.      It is without hope. “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope.” (Vs.6)

3.      It has no substance and so is unhappy.  “Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again.” (Vs.7)

4.      We long for relief. “Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired man waiting eagerly for his wages,” (Vs.2)

Transition: Here is where we leave Job; broken and bitter. And so, we too, often relate to Job in our lives. But all is not lost for we can see in our Gospel lesson that God remains in control. He is able to lift us up as He takes us by the hand.

II.     Yet the LORD God is in control.

A.     He asserts His authority and power.

1.      He confronts Job with His power, wisdom and justice. Reminding Job and us today when we confront troubled times that He will never leave us and never forsake us.

2.      Jesus overpowered evil. In our Gospel lesson for today everyone searches for Jesus. Because He heals all kinds of diseases. As Jesus begins His public ministry with healing both mental and physical illnesses. Only God can heal! By restoring people to health Jesus shakes Satan’s kingdom and arrives to offer the people new life. (Mark 1:29-39)

In the midst of our suffering we reach out to the one who can empathize with us and understand our sorrows namely Jesus the wounded healer who took our sin and suffering to Himself.

The Prophet Isaiah predicted this when he wrote “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Like one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered Him stricken by God, struck down and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” –Isaiah 53:3-5

3.      His death and resurrection win the victory. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the first-fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” - 1 Corinthians 15:20-26

4.      The Good News is that His kingdom is at hand. Jesus broke into time and space at Christmas. He began His work at His Baptism and fulfilled it on Easter morning when He broke from the tomb. In repentance and faith we experience His power in our lives. The same power He demonstrated to the people in all the areas of Galilee is what we experience every time He comes to us in His Word and Sacraments – to give us His strength, His peace, His purpose, His power!

B.     We put our hope in His mercy and unfailing love and receive power to endure sin and the trials in our lives. David put it this way; “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:10-11)

The writer to the Hebrews teaches, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  -Hebrews 4:14-16

In the midst of your anguish and distress turn to Jesus for consolation, forgiveness and life.

As we live in a world of sin and sickness we do not always understand WHY the righteous suffer. But we trust that God is in control and His will is best. He remains in control. He promises us the final victory in Christ.

Passive Sentences –3%
Readability – 80.3%
Reading Level–5.3
Image Psalm 35:2 copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[1] Collect for Psalm 13, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book for and by the Church, © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

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