Job & Jesus
(Excerpt from the Sermon)
Sermon Series: Origins
How can we move forward with an imperfect answer for suffering? The key is the cross of Jesus Christ. Job’s life story is an origin story that points forward to a culminating event in history. Job’s story is so generic, it’s set in Uz, it’s set away. We don’t know what time it was set in. It’s almost intentionally vague to show how it’s a universal, philosophical discussion about suffering. But Jesus’ life is the exact opposite. Everything about Jesus’ life was historical. It was factual, it was intentional. Everything was pointing toward it because this event at the cross on Calvary was going to be the key that unlocks all of these enormous events and decisions. Romans 8:31-32 says, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”
The Bible tells us that an amazing transaction took place on the cross. That God Himself entered into our world – full of its complexity, full of its suffering, and He chose to suffer Himself. He gave up His own Son to solve the problem that has caused all this suffering in the first place. How did the story end for Job? You know that not only did God accept his repentance, but God made a way for his friends (who were in the wrong) to be restored. He told them to go and bring an offering and allow Job to pray for them. He restored their relationship, He restored their friendship. God then blessed Job. It says not because he repented, but just because God is a God of blessing. Job had his riches restored and he had blessing and kindness poured out upon him. God is always looking for a way to bless, restore, heal, and be gracious.
And the Bible tells us that all through history, He’s been weaving this plan together to solve our problem of suffering, to solve our problem of sin, and to solve our problem of being separated from Him. I love this quote from John Stott. It says, “We have to learn to climb the hill of Calvary and from that vantage point survey all life’s tragedies. The cross does not solve the problem of suffering, but it supplies the essential perspective from which to look at it. Since God has demonstrated His holy love and loving justice in a historical event (the cross) no other historical event (whether personal or global) can override it or disprove it.” You see, God’s perfect display of love, sacrifice, pain, and justice on the cross, in history, supplants any other event in history before or after. It is the greatest moment.
So Paul can confidently say this in Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” What’s he saying? Every form of suffering that can come our way cannot separate us from the love of God achieved on the cross of Jesus Christ. As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’” So it was reasonable for Job to trust God when he considered the creation of the world and all the wonderful things that God was doing that he could not understand.
How much more reasonable is it for us to trust God in view of the cross where God has displayed His love and justice by giving up His own Son so that we could have our suffering alleviated, our sin forgiven, and our future secured in His family? I’ve borrowed some points from John Stott’s classic book, the Cross of Christ. There are points he makes about suffering when we look at it through the lens of the cross of Jesus Christ. The first thing he says is that if you start to look at the suffering in this world and in your particular life through the lens of the cross, there’s going to be a table turn that goes on. There’s going to be a new approach. And you as a Christian are going to discover that pain is temporary, but salvation is eternal.
1 - Patient endurance. Hebrews 12:2-3 says, “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” You know, the Christian always has one eye on the throne of God, one eye on the future; one eye on knowing that God has promised He will never leave us. Never will He forsake us. So, we can have patient endurance in the midst of suffering.
Just the other day, my mum was telling me that my uncle is about to turn 70. At the age of 21, he was in an accident, he became a quadriplegic. But his faith in God has made him one of the great witnesses in my life. I’ve never heard him complain about his suffering. I’ve never heard him complain about being stuck in that chair – and he’s been stuck in that chair for nearly 50 years. But we can patiently endure suffering when we look at it through the cross when we see what Jesus endured in order to get us back into a relationship with God.
2 - We can mature in our holiness. No one would choose suffering. Yet it’s amazing how many people, when they look at their suffering through the cross, discover a whole new facet of God’s strength and God’s power in their life. When we look at the cross and we lean on God in our suffering, His provision matures us and makes us stronger. It makes us holy. Hebrews 2:10 says, “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what He suffered.”
Jesus’ ministry was perfected in the suffering on the cross. And we are going to come to glory. We are going to follow suit. And if we are willing to press into God in the midst of our suffering, we are going to mature and we’re going to become holy.
3 - Suffering service. John 12:23-26 says, “Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me.’” Jesus says that if you are willing to look at suffering on this earth through the lens of the cross, you are going to be willing to be like Jesus. You are going to follow suit. When you look at the cross of Calvary and you see all of the goodness that has come out of his self-sacrifice, you are going to say, “That is the right way to live.” Christians, all through history, have decided to follow Jesus. And in allowing their own life to die, many people have found life. Christians throughout history decided to go into the midst of suffering, self-sacrificially, and serve other people. Suffering becomes an opportunity for Jesus, love, and grace to be revealed to our world.
If we look at suffering through the lens of the cross, we become suffering servants who are willing to lay down our own life just like Jesus, to serve others. And, of course, that great paradox is at play. Jesus says, when we lay down our lives for the sake of Him, we will find it. We start to see the true blessings of life when people are loved and encouraged and built up, and God’s name is glorified.
Watch This Full Sermon