Sermon for Easter – The Resurrection of Our Lord April 16, 2017
Text: Job 19:23-27 Revised 3-year series B 17:2008
Theme: Comfort at the Cemetery: My Redeemer Lives!
I. The opening grave.
Cemeteries! What dark places they can be. Death permeates every corner. Who wants to go there, much less think about them? Many won’t go to visit them. But when I must go, what are my thoughts?
Are they thoughts of sadness and loss? There lies someone I knew, someone dear to me. How quickly time passes. Soon life here is over. Then the shadow of death descends. What will it do – to me? Where will it find – me?Death finds each one of us more quickly than we like to think it will.
When I was younger, I didn’t consider much the rapid flight of time. But now here I am, already in my 60s. I never dreamed that I would be here so soon. The older ones among you mightcall me “just a kid.” The younger ones might think I’m over the hill. How subjective my place in time is to others! Some consider me young, others think I’m old.Well, which is it?
Ah, I’m not as confused about this as it sounds. And, it’s not as important to me as it is to others. But one thing I have to admit – there was a time when I thought it would be “forever” before I got to this point in my life. But here I am already. Unbelievable! How quickly time passes! How frail our existence!Before one knows it, one’s life here is over. That’s not being negative; that’s reality.
Maybe such thoughts strikeanxiety, even fear in some people’shearts.When will death come? How will it come? What will it do to me? No one has ever come back to tell me personally what it’s really like and what I need to expect. Oh, I know there are those books that describe a person’s alleged return fromdeath. But it seems to me their testimonies don’t agree and often don’t jive with the Scriptures. Furthermore, Jesus says there is only one who has been at the Father’s side and makes Him known to us (Jn.3:13;6:46) – that is Jesus. What He says as the Son of God I can trust. What others say, different from Him, I can’t trust.
So, what do I really know about death? The grass may be green and the flowers may be colorful at the open grave, but how deep and dark the hole appears. And it seems final, oh, so final!
Cemeteries, who wants to visit or think about them? Yet sooner orlater each one of us shall be brought to one. But few want to talk
about it, even though we will all end up in one someday.
Do you think any of this was different for Job? He was known in his day as “the greatest among all the people of the East.” He was among the wealthiest and most highly respected on earth. But then one dark day he lost it all – fields, cattle, servants, wealth, children, wife, and finally his health. A horrible disease struck him down. Job was on the brink. It seemed like his grave was opening right before his eyes. A diseased body, a tormented mind stood at the edge of existence, and all that he could see ahead of him was a cemetery with anopening grave. Is that it? Is that really where it ends?
II. The opened grave.
Ah, but Job, tormented as he was, understood that there was more. Through his faith in a Savior that was yet to come, Job sawtwo realities. On one side, he sawthe grave opening before him to receive a dying body. But on the other side he saw that same grave opened at that last great day of this world’s existence. Listen to his words: “After my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another.”I will see it!
You know the expression, “You’ve got to see for yourself”? That’s what Job meant. He would get to see the eternal God for himself. It’s as though Job flew across the centuries of time, not even knowing how many he had passed, and saw himself coming out of his tomb that had been opened for a second time.For him it would soon be “ashes to ashes, and dust to dust.” But it was not the end. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” yes! But it was in the sure hope of the resurrection to eternal life.
In faith Job saw, as it were, two doors to his grave, one marked “entrance” and the other marked “exit.” And he, Job, was soon to go through both. Notice how he said it would be the same Job: “And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God – I myself will see Him!” Job would get to see God himself. The same Job who went into the opened grave would come out of the opening grave.
What else do we have here some 2000 years before Jesus except the conviction of an Old Testament Christian who had the firm hope in the resurrection of the body? It’s the hope of everyone who looks to the once crucified, now risen Savior that the grave which was opening to claim his dying form – even as it claimed Jesus’ body – would on the last day be opened – just like Jesus’ tomb was opened on Easter – to give back that body in renewed and perfect form – glorified like Christ’s own. Paul writes, “By the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, the Lord Jesus Christ will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body” (Phlp.3:21).
That’s the same hope that we have for believing loved ones whom we have left out at the cemetery, who passed this life in faith in a Savior who died for their sins, which is the cause of death, and rose again to life for their justification. It’s because of Him and only Him that we say to those believing ones whom we have left at a cemetery, “We’ll see you later in the glorious resurrection on the last day.”
How horrible it would be to lay to rest those whom we knew and lovedas our dear ones, thinking we would never to see them again! But how comforting to see with faith’s eye a Redeemer who brought us back to God and the grand family reunion of all believers in heaven! How horrible to throw dirt on top of a lifeless form and think of that body only turning into dust! How comforting to await with anticipation the last great day of our Savior’s return when that dirt will move aside and the lifeless form will rise again, renewed to a glorified life!
Yes, what comfort such thoughts give as one stands at the cemeterybefore an open grave. But will it happen? Can we be certain? Job was. Are you?
III. Jesus’ emptied grave.
If you are not certain, if you don’t believe this like Job did, then why are you here today? Aren’t you here today singing these happy Easter songs because of that which happened in another cemetery when Jesus rose from the grave? Under guidance of the Holy Spirit, Job talked about it years before it took place. He spoke about the emptied grave of his Redeemer some 2,000 years before Jesus died. He proclaimed:“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.” What a wealth of truth and comfort for the heart and soul in those few words: “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
A “Redeemer” is one who lays down a pledge, he pays a price to free someone from bondage. You see, Job was painfully aware of the bondage of his sins and the death that they caused. He knew that everything that happened to him was the result of Satan’s work in a fallen world. But Job also knew that God would provide him with someone who would redeem him from that bondage. With the eyes of faith he looked ahead to Calvary’s cross and saw the blood of his Redeemer freeing him forever from sin’s curse and Satan’s deceptions, paying every last cent of the wages due.
But Job saw more than the Redeemer’s cross on Calvary. In faith helooked beyond the cross to the cemetery at the dawn of Easter day. In faith he saw Jesus bursting from that tomb, rising triumphantly from the grave. The tomb was empty and Christ was alive, death had been swallowed up in Christ’s victory over it. And because of God’s promise to all who believe, Job’s victory over the same was won for him.
And notice he said, “MY Redeemer Lives.” Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son for it. But this is something personal. Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, is my Redeemer.
He’s ransomed ME; He’s saved ME; He’s opened MY grave, too, even though I’m not quite there yet. It’s done; it’s finished, just like He said on Calvary. And now when I visit the cemetery and I close my eyes for the last time here before theopening grave in front of me, I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, I know that MY Redeemer lives and my grave will be opened again. How do I know? Jesus’ emptied grave is God’s guarantee.He is risen! He is risen indeed! And I have everything I need for life, death, and eternity in Him. Oh, what comfort!
No wonder Job wanted his words engraved with hammer and chisel into a rock and lined with lead so that they would never fade. No wonder he wanted his innocence and this sentence written down in a book somewhere for all people of all generations to read. And here it is: My Redeemer Lives! I know it! It means everything to me.
“Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives: I know that my Redeemer lives.”God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.