(Palm Sunday/Lord’s Supper service 3-20-16)
If you want to make my wife Cheryl groan, just mention the Book of Job. I think she feels like we lived through that book for about two years as a family, and indeed Job can be one of the most sobering books in the Bible. But despite that, there are bright rays of hope scattered periodically in it. One of those places is in Job 19, just after one of Job’s “friends”, Bildad has just implied that Job had brought all of what had happened upon himself by some secret wickedness in his life.
Job responds in the first part of Chapter 19 to his “friend” by saying, “How long will you torment me, and crush me with words?” (We could preach a whole series from the Book of Job on how NOT to “comfort” people who are in a time of difficulty — and perhaps some time we will! — but that is not our focus today.) Today (and next Sunday for Easter) we want to look at Job’s words from the last part of this chapter, after Job spends the first 22 verses being exasperated at these “friends” who were accusing him instead of comforting him.
In :23 Job just exclaims, perhaps to his friends, perhaps to the Lord — or perhaps to the heavenly angels who were watching all this unfold like a drama: “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! That with an iron stylus and lead they were engraved in the rock forever!”
And then Job makes the statement which is going to be our focus today, and which we will follow up next week for Easter Sunday: (:25-26) “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, and Whom my eyes will see and not another.”
Job said, as difficult as all this is, I know I have a Redeemer who is going to make all this right between me and God. We are going to look at this idea of “My Redeemer” this morning, as we celebrate what Jesus did on the cross for us:
I. OUR NEED FOR A REDEEMER
Job knew that his relationship with God was not right. He knew that God’s face had been hidden from him, and he longed for someone to come between him and God as a “go-between” or an arbiter, so that he could be restored to that fellowship with God. But how would that happen? Job was just a man, a sinful man, like we all are. How could he lay hold of God, and restore the relationship with Him that had been broken? He lamented in Job 9:33, “There is no UMPIRE between us, who may lay his hand upon us both” and bring him and God back together.
You know, whenever you have two parties who are estranged from each other, it helps if you have someone who can “lay his hand upon them both” like Job said — someone who is part of both parties — and who can act as an “umpire” between them, and help bring them back together.
–If it is a dispute between people who are from different countries, you might get someone who speaks both languages to mediate between them. — If it is a husband and wife, you might get someone who is a friend of both, and loves both.
But who could do that between God and mankind? Job said, I wish for someone like that, an “umpire” who could “lay his hand upon us both” — but who could do it? Who could be both God and Man to “lay His hand upon us both” and bring them back together?
Even at the end of the book of Job, when God does appear in power and glory in the whirlwind before Job to answer his questions, God’s glory is so great that Job can’t answer. All he can do say, “I cover my mouth with my hand.” He can’t answer for himself to God. There had to be Someone else who could come between Job and the Lord, to help him repair his relationship with God.
But listen: it is not only Job who has that problem. The Bible says that the relationship of every one of us with God is like that — but in our case, the fault is all ours. God made us to know and love Him, but ever since the Garden of Eden, mankind has chosen to sin against God, and disobey His word, which has caused us to be estranged from Him. God is a holy God, who is a consuming fire, and sin cannot stand in His presence for an instant without being consumed. And we are all sinful human beings, so we cannot approach Him. Who can bring us back together, unless like Job said, there was an “umpire between us, who may lay his hand upon us both?” We need an “Umpire” like Job said; we need an Advocate, a “translator”, a “Redeemer” between us and the Father. And thankfully, that is just what God has provided for us!
II. GOD’S PROVISION OF A REDEEMER
Job said “I know that my Redeemer lives” — in other words, that there WAS a such Redeemer as he needed, who would be his Advocate with God. He had affirmed this earlier, in 16:19, when he said, “Even now, my witness is in heaven, and my advocate is on high.” He knew that he in fact DID have a Redeemer who would make things right between him and God.
This word “redeemer” in English is the Hebrew word “goel”, which was the name given to the next of kin whose duty it was to help a relative who had fallen into some kind of distress. If their relative was about to lose their property (which was a family inheritance in Israel and was to be kept in the family) or if they got into such debt that they were being sold into slavery, their “redeemer kinsman” would help them out, and pay the debt, or buy them back.
One of the great examples of the “goel” Redeemer is in the Book of Ruth. As many of you know from that story, the woman Naomi married an Israelite man by the name of Elimelech, and they had two sons. In a time of famine in Israel, they went to the land of Moab to live, where they could get food and survive. But while they were there, Naomi’s husband, and both of her sons, died in the land of Moab. When she returned to Israel with her daughter-in-law Ruth, she was going to have to sell her property, because she had no means of support. If no one had stepped in, the property might have gone out of the family. And Ruth and Naomi were both disgraced as widows in that culture. But the man Boaz was a relative, the “goel”, the “redeemer kinsman”. And he bought the property, and kept it in the family, and as many of you know, he also married Ruth, taking away her disgrace — and the story ended “happily ever after” as they became the great-grandparents of King David, and the ancestors of Jesus in His genealogy!
But what we need to understand is that Boaz as the “kinsman redeemer” was a picture of Jesus Christ. Just as Boaz bought the property and “redeemed” Naomi and Ruth out of their financial and social poverty, so Jesus came as our “Redeemer” to buy us out of our debt with God that we incurred with our sin. Jesus is just what Job longed for: the ‘Redeemer’, the ‘Mediator’, the ‘umpire’ between us and God; the ONE Person who could put his hand both on God and on man, because He IS both God and Man, and who could bring us together with His redeeming death on the cross.
The New Testament explains that in more detail:
— First of all, it tells us that Jesus is both God and Man, so he can “lay His hand upon us both” like Job said, to bring us together. John 1:1 says He was in the beginning with God, and was God. But John 1:14 says “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” So Jesus was and is 100% God, and without giving that up, He became 100% in the incarnation when He was born on earth. That makes Him He the perfect “Mediator”, Advocate, “Umpire” “Redeemer” between God and Man — because He is both. He can “lay His hand upon us both” and bring us together. I Timothy 2:5-6 says: “For there is one God, and one Mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all.” The Bible says there that Jesus is able to be the “Mediator”, the “umpire” between us and God, because He is both God and man. He is just what Job longed for: the ONE Person who could put his hand both on God and on man, because He IS both God and Man, and who could bring us together with His redeeming death on the cross.
— But He did this “bringing together” at great cost. When Boaz “redeemed” the property for Ruth & Naomi, he paid some amount of money for it. But Jesus paid an incomparable price to redeem us: I Peter 1:18-19 says it was the blood of Jesus on the cross that redeemed us from our sins: “You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” So just as Boaz “redeemed” Ruth & Naomi with his money, Jesus “redeemed” us from the distress of our sins with an even greater price: He died on the cross, bearing the wrath of God that we deserved for our sins, in His body; and He poured out His blood in payment for our sins. It was the blood of Christ that was the price to redeem us.
— And His blood was of such worth that it paid for the sins of the whole world. I John 2:1-2 says, “I have written these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for our sins only, but also for those of the whole world.” John says there that although we should not sin, we do, and we have separated ourselves from God. But he says we have an “Advocate” (the “redeemer”, the “umpire” that Job talked about) who comes between us and God, to bring us back together, Jesus Christ. And He did that, the Bible says, for everyone. That verse in I John 2:2, says that as our Advocate, Jesus is “the propitiation” (which means “payment”) not for our sins only, but also for those of the WHOLE WORLD”! Because of what Jesus did, the sins of every one of us have been paid for, and every one of us can be reconciled with God.
Back in the late 1930’s and 1940’s, Adolph Hitler began his ruthless extermination of the Jews in Germany and in the other countries he occupied. But not all Germans joined him in his hatred of the Jews. Some did what they could to help, housing Jewish families, or helping to smuggle them out of Hitler’s occupied territories. One of these was a German businessman by the name of Oscar Schindler. Schindler ran an enamelware factory in Krakow, Poland, and he employed some Jews in his factory. At first, he just used the prisoners to make profit in his business, but over time he grew to actually love the Jewish people. Soon he hired more of the prisoners, to save them from being exterminated in the concentration camp, and he paid bribes to the SS guards to bring them in, and to keep their silence about what he was doing. By 1944, Schindler had up to 1200 Jews working for him, keeping them from sure death in the concentration camps — but he also spent every penny of his fortune on their redemption. He wanted to save more of them than he did, but his redemption was limited; he didn’t have the money to save any more — in fact, he ended the war penniless and bankrupt, and he ended up being supported in his old age by the Jewish people that he loved and helped.
Oscar Schindler wanted to redeem more of those dying Jews than he could, but his resources were limited. — but the good news of the Gospel is that we have a Redeemer whose blood is incomparable, and when He paid for our sins on the cross with His blood, it was sufficient to pay for every sin you have ever committed, and for all the sins of the WHOLE WORLD! Your sins, my sins — all the sins of everyone who has ever lived — have been totally paid for by the death of Jesus on the cross. He is our Redeemer, who paid for our sins with His blood!
III. OUR RESPONSE TO THE REDEEMER
But there is something else very important to notice in this passage. Job spoke of the “Redeemer”, but this was no “abstract religious thing” to Him. He had a personal faith that he had a Redeemer who would bring HIM to God. Notice the personal expressions in these verses: he said, “I know … that MY Redeemer lives … (:26) yet from my flesh I shall see God … (:27) whom MY eyes shall behold …”. This was very real, and very personal for Job. He didn’t just have some “faint religious hope” for some kind of a Redeemer; he knew that HE had a Redeemer personally!
It’s like the Woman at the Well whom Jesus spoke with in John 4. When He pointed out some things to her about her own sin, and about true worship, she began to “blow Him off” with “well, when the Messiah comes, He will tell us all things.” You can just picture the spirit with which she said that: “Yeah, one day the Messiah will come; He’ll figure out it …” but she was thinking this wasn’t really anything that was going to effect her here and now. (Little did she know how personal it was; that the Messiah was right there talking to her, and it was about to change her life forever!)
And a lot of people are just like her. They know there is “a Redeemer.” They know there is “a god”; they know there is “a Savior” — but it is not real to them here and now. They have never really “cashed in” on what Jesus did for them, and made it personal.
It’s like a few weeks back, someone gave Cheryl & I some free tickets to get into Biltmore. That was a great opportunity. But it was not enough for the tickets to be paid for, and for the opportunity to be offered to us. We had to believe that those tickets were really good; we had to go up there, redeem those tickets, and go in. And we did, and we loved it — it’s an incredible place! But we had to make it personal by redeeming those tickets and actually using them.
And that’s how it is with salvation too. Jesus has paid the price for redemption for all of us. He is our “Redeemer.” That means there is a free ticket, not just to Biltmore, but to HEAVEN itself, paid for in full for every single one of us. It’s not cheap — it cost the blood of Jesus Christ, in His death on the cross for us. But He offers that gift free to everyone who will turn back from their sins and trust Him as their Lord & Savior, and follow Him. But it is not enough to know about that. It is not enough to hold the offer in your hand. You have to “cash it in”; you have to “redeem” that gift, and make it personal, and receive the gift of what He did for you. You do that by acknowledging that you have indeed sinned against God, and have been going the wrong way in life. And by believing that Jesus paid for your sins with His death on the cross. And you turn back from your sin, and turn to follow Jesus as your personal Lord & Savior. And when you do that, your “ticket” is “redeemed”. It’s already been paid for — just like our tickets to Biltmore — He’s just waiting to see if you are going to come and use them or not. And that choice is up to you.
Let’s bow our heads together …
As we bow our heads, there are several ways some of us need to respond to this message today:
— If you have never personally received Jesus as your Lord & Savior — you don’t know if you have personally been “redeemed” — then you need to make sure of that. If you’ll come share that with me, I’ll get you with one of our counselors who will pray with you and help you to “nail that down” right now!
— or maybe you have asked Jesus to be your Savior, but you have never followed through by being baptized like Curtis & Amanda did this morning, and you need to do that. Come share that with me.
— in a few minutes, we will be sharing in the Lord’s Supper together. The Bible says we should not do that lightly, or in an unworthy manner, so we need to take some time during this invitation to confess our sins to the Lord and prepare our hearts for the Lord’s Supper.
— Or you may want to come and kneel and pray for someone or something special on your heart …