Job was no stranger to cross life. For the sake of a wager, God allowed Satan to have his way with Job. He could do anything to him short of killing him. So, he did. Satan turned Job's wealth into poverty; he turned his good name into scorn; he took the lives of his children, and he inflicted every manner of disease and physical suffering. Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. His friends tried to persuade him that his afflictions were all the result of God punishing him for his sins. Job would not hear of such things. Even though he is never told about the wager, he nevertheless anchored his hope in God, his Redeemer. He stubbornly believed that one day, perhaps even after he has departed this life, he will be raised up in the flesh and behold Him face-to-face. His lot of suffering and even his death would not have the final say. Job knew his Redeemer lives (Job 19:25).
Hundreds of years later, we behold another spectacle of One delivered over to Satan for cross life, but also a cross death. God laid down another wager with Satan that He was determined to win. However, this time there would be no holds barred. Jesus could be killed; and He was. It was all about being the Savior and taking our place. We are sin-sick cases, dead in our trespasses. We do not need to get a grip; we need to get a life. And that is just what would-be saviors must provide; provided they first get one for themselves. Job bore his cross and he eventually died. Jesus bore His cross and He also died. Does the parallel with Job stop here?
Between Job’s hope and our Lord’s cross, our happy forever hangs in the balance. He was named Jesus because He was to save us from our sins. His death on the cross was to be a payment for our sins. But, is this true? He said it is finished, but was it truly? How can we know that Job’s faith was not simply the pious wish of a poor misguided, suffering soul? We need more than a pious faith in faith. We need more than a blind hope. Here is the bottom line about our redemption from sin, death, and the powers of evil—if the tomb of Jesus is not empty, the promises of the cross are. If the resurrection is not a fact, our happy forever is a fiction.
But thanks be to God, the facts are there. With the women, we have beheld the empty tomb. We have heard the Angel’s incredible message: He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
The story of Christ crucified has a happy ending. Jesus has conquered the grave. He beat the death rap. He has His life, and one for you as well—life out of death for Jesus, and life out of death for you. You are no mere spectators of the cross of Christ the crucified; you are also participants. The story of Christ the crucified has become your story. Your baptism has connected you with Christ the crucified. Sharing in His death to sin, you share in a new life in His resurrection. You don’t just get to survey the wondrous cross of Christ; you get to bear it and live in it. The road of the cross that Jesus walked has us walking right there with Him.
But, from the vantage point of the empty tomb, we may confidently echo Job’s confession: I know that my Redeemer lives. Jesus has entered into glory, and that assures us that we will also. The end of the story is not the death to sin; it is life with the risen Christ.
We are already sons and daughters of God, but often, like Jesus on the way to His cross, we are not much to look at. We can look in the mirror and say to ourselves: Not much glory to behold here! But in the crucified and risen Christ, we can confidently believe, we have received His glory. We are already righteous saints, recreated in the image of Christ.
However, no one can see our halos just yet. We are forgiven, wrapped in the robe of righteousness but we appear to others (and to ourselves in the mirror of God’s Law) with all our flaws, imperfections, and weaknesses; and many of them are glaring. Yes, we wear the King’s clothes, but we wear them so transparently! We wonder at times and pray: My God, is this robe of righteousness real? Our poverty and sinful nakedness put our faith to the test and we can have our doubts at times. We have the promise of the Better Day coming when all that is imperfect will pass away. But, the question is: can you see it from here?
We would like to have just a glimpse of the Glory Story. You want assurance that this is not simply pie-in-the-sky by-and-by?
Well, come and gaze long and hard at this empty tomb. Listen to the parade of witnesses and appearances of the risen Christ. As He went from death to life, here is your down payment and guarantee that you also shall be raised to a newness of life. Cross life was provisional for Jesus, and it is provisional for you. When you die to sin, you rise to God, you rise to righteousness, and you rise to a certain hope in the New Day coming when all sin and suffering will come to an end.
Christ has been pleased to rise and therefore so will you. All other would-be saviors are dead—Jesus lives. God the Father put a wager on Job, and He won. The joy of Easter is that He also put a wager on Jesus, and we all have won. We know that our Redeemer Lives!