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What words of comfort do you commonly use?
Imagine you tell of some bad news:
My credit cards have been stolen, they’ve cleared out my bank account...
How do you finish that sentence?
...still, worse things happen at sea
... serves me right for being so careless
... I suppose I’m just cursed
... I guess I should count my blessings
... at least I’m not being boiled alive in sulphuric acid
... at least I have my health
... such is life
Whatever we tack onto the end of our stories of suffering gives a little window onto our theology of suffering.
Me and a friend have stock lines we use and we make fun of each other for them. He calls me a cautious optimist. I call him a stark realist. When I get to the end of my news I say: “So we’ll see.” When he gets to the end of his news he says “So there we are!”
What’s your response to suffering? In church we often have some more spiritual sounding consolations. Things like “Just got to keep trusting I guess.” “God’s got a plan.”
But none of these are a patch on one line I heard recently. It was from a woman suffering with cancer. And after she’d told people the seriousness of her condition she’d say “Still, nothing a resurrection won’t fix.” Now that’s consolation.
Nothing a resurrection won’t fix.
That’s what Easter is about. The darkest day on planet earth was Good Friday when the LORD of Glory was barbarically executed - slaughtered as a lamb. When you kill your father it’s called patricide. When you kill a king, it’s called regicide. This was deicide – killing God. The Word of creation comes and we silence the Word. The Light of the cosmos shines, and we extinguish the light. The Life-force of the world comes and we kill the Author of Life.
The sun stopped shining and the earth quaked when the LORD our Maker was lifted up on the cross. Abandoned by earth, forsaken by heaven – He’s thrust into the air, hanging between heaven and earth, He dies the death of the rejected. Spat upon, mocked, derided, a spear thrust into His heart. Taken down, His cold, lifeless corpse was laid in the tomb and the entrance was sealed. God was dead and buried. It was the worst thing that has ever happened.
But Easter Sunday – He burst out of the ground, NEW. The same Jesus – but now He’s been perfected. He has passed through the fires of judgement and come out refined, glorified. He hasn’t just dipped His toe into death and come back. He has passed all the way through death and come out the other side into immortal, resurrection life.
And on Easter Sunday we remember the stories of how He appeared to His disciples, still bearing the wounds of His crucifixion. He keeps the marks of His death, because we will praise His death into all eternity. But they are glorified wounds. Jesus redeems death – He redeems even His death, even deicide is redeemed through the resurrection. There’s nothing His resurrection won’t fix.
And what I want us to understand this evening is that Christ’s death and resurrection isn’t just an example of how, sometimes, good can come out of suffering. This isn’t an example – it’s the engine of God’s cosmic redemption. What God did through Jesus that weekend – He will do to the whole universe. There’s nothing His resurrection won’t fix.
Just before Jesus died He said this in John 12
24 I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
Jesus is the Seed who falls dead into the ground, but rises up new to produce MANY seeds. His death and resurrection is the pattern and prototype and power for MANY resurrections.
Put it another way – Jesus is the Head of a new creation. And as He takes the old humanity down into the grave He rises as Head of a new humanity. And all who are united to Him by faith are raised with Him.
Put it another way – Jesus is like the needle going through the thick black cloth of suffering, judgement and death. And Jesus bursts through the other side – taking with Him, the thread. Us – anyone who trusts in Jesus is united to Him and takes the same path.
Easter Sunday is not just an example of new life. It is the pattern, the prototype, the power for cosmic resurrection. And it’s what God is doing in your life. He is moving you from Good Friday through to Easter Sunday, and there’s nothing His resurrection won’t fix.
...continue reading "An Easter Sermon – Job 19"