Click here for the reading: John 16:16-23.

“You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.” (John 16:20)

There are a great many causes of sorrows in the world.  Many are self-inflicted.  Perhaps just as many are brought on by others.  If all could be weighed in the scales it is anyone’s guess as to which side is heavier.  The preacher who reflects on the various causes of grief and sorrow will have a helpful diagnostic in identifying what it is that people fear, love and trust the most.  Pose the question this way: “What are the things that would grieve me if they were taken from me?”  That being said, the sorrow that Jesus speaks of in this Gospel reading is a specific sort of sorrow and grief.  The preacher who narrows the focus from general sadness to the sort Jesus speaks of will amplify the specific joy in the hearts of his hearers.

The cause of the looming sorrow that Jesus spoke of is specified as, “because you will not see me.”  For the original disciples there is no greater sorrow than the impending separation from Jesus.  This is amplified by the fact that the separation he speaks of would’ve seemed to them to be permanent.  There had been periods in His ministry when Christ was not seen by his disciples.  But in just a little while there would be a qualitatively different sort of not seeing Him.  They would not see him because He would be crucified. 

This was no secret from the disciples.  Jesus had often spoken plainly about what was going to happen in Jerusalem.  But the disciples then are similar to disciples now.  Minds are fuzzy.  And hearing about a future event does not always lead to grasping what exactly will be entailed.   It is often mentioned that the situation of the Church, living between ascension and 2nd coming, mirrors that of the disciples between the cross and resurrection.  While there is a similarity there is also a key difference.  Like them we do not now see Jesus.  But unlike that 3 day period we live now in the light of Easter.  In what way does the experience of the Church share in the grief of those disciples?  How is it different? 

But the length of sorrow is limited.  Another promise is quickly given.  Just as they would soon not see him, so also soon they would see him again.  While the words of Jesus may have seemed cloudy to the original audience they are clear as day to those who know the rest of the story.  He is promising resurrection.  The loss of sight in death will be swallowed up by new sight in the resurrection.  And with that great reversal there is a specific cause of joy to overcome the cause of weeping.  The challenge here for the preacher is to both focus the hearer on both the cause of grief and the cause of joy and then to broaden back out.  How does the grief brought about by Christ’s death connect with the other griefs that plague men’s souls?  How does the joy of the risen Lord Jesus expand to us who live 2,000 years later and who do not see Him?

All of this Jesus compares to a woman who has come through the travails of childbirth.  Why is this the proper image for them and for us to understand the resurrection?  It is worth noting the overlap of this comparison between a new birth and Christ’s resurrection with other passages in Scripture.  Elsewhere Jesus is called the firstborn from the dead (Rev. 1:5; Col. 1:18).  He is said to have loosed the birth pains of death (Acts 2:24) by His resurrection.  As the preacher reflects on this image of the Church like a joyful mother and Jesus as the new man born into the world he will find a great bridge of speak of the ongoing joy that this man brings to His mother and to the whole world.

Click here for the reading: 1 Peter 2:11-20.

St. Peter had earlier labelled his recipients, “elect exiles.” (1 Peter 1:1). To that description of Christians as exiles he now adds “sojourners.” (1 Peter 2:11). This connects in perfectly with the context of the Old Testament reading from Isaiah, where the Israelites in exile were given hope. 

Christians are here taught a proper view of their place in this world.  Though they have gone from being “not a people,” to being “God’s people,” there is a rest and homeland that has not yet been reached.  St. Paul’s famous dictum: “your citizenship is in heaven,” finds its complement here.

How then should sojourners and exiles live?  This seems to be the overarching question that the epistle reading for Jubilate Sunday addresses.  The preacher will want to consider the possible dangers that sojourners might encounter on their journey to the world to come.  What are the various things that might hinder the journey?  While the making of a list has value, it is the preacher’s special concern to identify those dangers which are most prevalent in his congregation’s own time and place.

The epistle lumps many things together under the phrase, “passions of the flesh, which wage war against the soul.”  If the preacher is in need of help in compiling his list of such passions he will find more than enough from our Lord’s discussion of what comes out of the heart (Mattthew 15:19) as well as St. Paul’s so-called vice lists (e.g. Galatians 5:19-21).  However, it is worth noting that St. Peter doesn’t enumerate these passions.  He opts instead for brevity and the promotion of what he calls “honorable conduct,” and “doing good.”

One pitfall for sojourners is to ignore the lands they are passing through.  While Christians recognize that this world is passing away and that we are not to become at home in it, Peter’s emphasis is on doing good as we journey through this passing age.  So, he tells Christians to “be subject” to the emperor and his governors.  The rationale that is given is that such authorities exist to punish evil-doers and praise those who do good.  The will of God is summed up as, “doing good,” and this is what is the primary concern for Christians in this world. 

As the preacher considers this he will find a helpful distinction to be made by asking the question, “who determines what good works are?”  Subjecting oneself to the emperor and governor is not synonymous with obedience to every executive order that comes down from on high.  The same apostle Peter famously said to the Sanhedrin: “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29). And, according to tradition, he was crucified upside down for running afoul of the authorities.

Just as there is a pitfall in ignoring the world we now live in, so there is a danger for sojourners to becoming totally at home in it.  Especially in a time when governments disregard the life of the soul and are antagonistic towards any suggestions about the life of the world to come Christians should be urged to exercise discernment.  It is not a rebellious spirit that suspects that governing authorities that will not recognize the humanity of unborn babies do not have the best handle on what it means to “do good.”  What is to be done when governments order citizens to “do what we say is good,” if they contradict what God says is good?  If they appeal to “loving your neighbor,” or, “protecting public health,” does that mean they have accurately understood these things?  If it is God’s will that by doing good we put to silence the ignorance of foolish people, might this include the emperor and his governors? 

The epistle reading concludes with a reminder that doing good will not always be met with praise.  While it is God’s will for the civil estate to praise those who do good, it is commonly not the case that this happens.  The kings of the earth set themselves against the Lord and against His anointed (Ps. 2:2).  The pages of Scripture, the history of the church, and the preacher’s own experience will provide ample examples of this.  Christians are to look for vindication not from Caesar or his governors but from God, who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23).

Click here for the reading: Isaiah 40:25-31.

“Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold the days are coming, when all that is in your house and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon.  Nothing shall be left, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 39:6)

Isaiah prophesied of the coming Babylonian captivity.  And strangely it seemed to have no effect on Hezekiah.  His response?  “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.”  (Isaiah 39:8).  The King could live at ease without a worry of his children’s suffering.

It is those children of Hezekiah, and all who know the pain of exile from our true home, that Isaiah speaks to in chapter 40.  The prophesied exile would come and with it would come weeping and lamentation (see the entire book of Lamentations).  The words of Isaiah from chapter 40 give hope of return to exiles.

The theme of being in exile will return again in the epistle reading for the day.  And the day’s Gospel reading will note grief and sorrow like that which is voiced by Isaiah on behalf of the people of God, “My way is hidden from the Lord and my right is disregarded by my God.” (Isaiah 40:27).  It is well worth considering in what way the exile of Israel in the Old Testament compares and contrasts with the experience of the members of the Church in our day.  The preacher will want to ask himself if his hearers feel they are even in exile?  Is our heavenly citizenship valued over and above our earthly home, or vice versa?  Do we have a sense of the alienation from God that our sin has wrought or are we comfortable in it?  Unless that sense is known, the lament of Israel and the return that Isaiah speaks of will ring hollow.

But, where Christians are experiencing the tribulation of living in a spiritual Babylon and amidst an increasingly pagan world, there the prophecy of Isaiah will be received with joy.  The comfort that the Lord gives through Isaiah is not immediately obvious.  What would be most keenly desired is to have a promise of return.  But first, Isaiah reminds the people about who God is, with the implication being that He will surely cause them to return.

This may at first appear to be a subtle distinction, as God’s nature and His works always go together.  But, what is especially clear in the Isaiah reading for the day is that even while waiting for the Lord to work salvation for them, the people of God have strength.  How can this be?

Isaiah focuses on the power of the Lord.  His work in creation in especially highlighted.  The prophet summons the languishing people to look to the stars and see in them the power of the Lord.  The Creator’s power is clearly evident in the night sky and the consistency of the stars and constellations. 

However, this is not the first time that the Lord has pointed His people to the stars.  It was to Abram, awaiting as he was the promise of a son, that the Lord first pointed to the stars and connected His word of promise to their number, saying, “so shall your offspring be.”  When Isaiah points the people of Israel in exile to the stars He is simultaneously reminding them of their father Abraham and the Lord’s promise to him that would not be forgotten.

The Israelites had to wait in exile.  Christians too must wait for deliverance.  But in waiting there is strength.  The supernatural strength of the Lord God is given to His faithful people.  The final verses emphasize this with a dramatic promise.  Youths and young men, those paragons of energy and strength will faint and grow weary, but those who trust in the Lord renew their power.  And even more than that, they will be given the wings of eagles to soar through their challenges. 

As the preacher expounds on these amazing promises he will have a rich storehouse of examples to point to of God’s almighty power and promises for His people of old and new.  Isaiah’s rhetorical questions, “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” (Isaiah 40:28) would well serve as a way to bring out the great treasures of God’s mighty acts of deliverance old and new.

Click here for the reading: John 10:11-16.

Familiarity breeds contempt.  Such is the saying.  John 10:11-16 may perhaps be the most familiar passage in the Gospels.  And with good reason.  It is likely that the preacher who sets out to preach on these great words of our Lord will soon find that he has been here before, time and time again in fact.  And while this familiarity may not breed contempt in the emotional sense of resentment, familiarity can breed a sense of boredom.

Nevertheless, the preacher who endures to the end will be saved.   There is a good reason why these words of Christ are so beloved and well-known.  Jesus identifies Himself with the beloved figure of Psalm 23 and of Ezekiel 34.  He is not only the Shepherd, but the Good Shepherd.

A good question to consider is what this goodness consists of?  Pastoral scenes of shepherds peacefully leading sheep beside still waters are certainly appropriate.  Such calm images give the idea that the goodness of the shepherd is that he gives the sheep good things, which of course Christ does.  But John 10 speaks immediately of a danger and a sacrifice.  The Good Shepherd does not display his goodness primarily in peaceful times, but in the teeth of a battle.

The goodness of the shepherd comes in that he sacrifices himself, laying down his life on behalf of the sheep.  It is worth pondering here how it could be that the shepherd would save the sheep by dying?  Wouldn’t that only expose the sheep to graver danger at the onrushing wolf?  Clearly something is going on here that exceeds the image of shepherd, flock, and wolf.  The preacher who asks this question and finds its answer in the purpose of the cross will be able to identify the true nature of the wolf and of the shepherd’s protection.

A further line of inquiry as to the goodness of the Shepherd is to ask what motivates His sacrifice?  Jesus answers this question implicitly at first by contrasting himself with the hired hands.  They care nothing for the sheep.  By implication He cares everything for them.  This implication becomes explicit when He states that He “knows,” his sheep.  The knowledge spoken of here rises above mere knowledge of facts about the sheep.  It is a knowledge that unites.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us not simply to know more about us, but to know us and that we might know Him.  Just as He knows them, so also they know Him.  The more this unity between Shepherd and sheep is explored the richer it becomes.  St. Paul’s frequent use of, “in Christ,” has its source here and in John’s frequent use of Jesus invitation to “abide in me.”  Further reflection on these phrases will give the preacher ample ammunition.

Finally, there is the eschatological promise of the final verse: one flock, one shepherd.  What is now believed will one day be seen.  What is now being undertaken, the gathering of the flock, will be brought to completion and to consummation.  This forward looking promise is especially potent for preaching on during the Easter season.  The Good Shepherd has already laid down His life for the sheep, but now that He is risen what is He at work doing?  John 10:16 gives the answer.

Click here for the reading: 1 Peter 2:21-25.

“You have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25)

Like the Old Testament reading, the epistle for Misericordias is cut from the same pastoral cloth.  Like John 10, 1 Peter 2 employs the glorious substitutionary preposition, “on behalf of,” (Gk: hyper), when discussing Christ’s sufferings.  The beloved, “great exchange,” finds great expression here, with Christ “bearing our sins in His body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24). And while the vicarious satisfaction of Christ on behalf of sinners is clearly taught in these verses, St. Peter focuses on another dimension of that atonement.  Namely its exemplary nature.  The healing balm of the forgiveness of sins makes healthy sheep who want to leave the paths of sin and walk in righteousness.

Debates about the atonement are fraught with false dichotomies.  Do you believe either substitutionary atonement or Christus victor?  Are you a proponent of either moral exemplar or vicarious satisfaction? preacher will find in 1 Peter 2 a wonderful example in which to follow to avoid such either/ors.  The Good Shepherd is one who leads his sheep in and out (John 10:3-4).  This leading in and out St. Peter locates in the example of Christ’s sufferings. 

The Christian is called to walk in the footsteps of His Shepherd.  The account of the washing of Peter’s feet employs similar words of Christ’s loving example in John 13.  There St. Peter was graphically taught that Christ, his Lord and Teacher, had come as a servant, and that this was an expression of His love.  When the Lord told Peter that unless he were to wash his feet Peter had “no share” in Him, Peter’s objections melted away and he zealously proclaimed, “then not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” (John 13:9)

While he did not understand what Christ was then doing, by the time of his epistle writing, the Spirit had come to teach Him all things.  The life and death of Jesus is not only a vicarious substitution, but also the model for the disciple.  While the important caveat is necessary, that Christ’s sufferings are qualitatively superior to ours – by HIS wounds you have been healed, they remain exemplary.  In fact, dying to sin and living to righteousness is described as the purpose of Christ’s suffering.  The preacher who fears falling into the ditch of moralism should take note that the other ditch, that of licentiousness (1 Peter 2:16), yawns its mouth just as wide and near to his hearers.

But Peter is not simply describing all sufferings.  “What credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure?”  And neither is he advocating suffering for its own sake.  Rather, it is the suffering that comes from doing good that we are to imitate Christ in.  Christ, most poignantly in his passion, was misunderstood, falsely accused, reviled, and finally killed.  This all despite never sinning, deceiving, reviling back, or threatening anyone.  Christians should neither expect nor pursue the praise of the world. 

Instead, we follow the example of our shepherd, “who entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” Having become our substitute, Christ now calls us to participate in His way of life, living by faith in the Father’s verdict of approval and scorning the shame of the world.  Again, here the preacher will find the note of encouragement that is so needed for the sheep who suffer like their shepherd.  The one who judges justly has vindicated the Bishop of our souls.  Will he not do the same for those who are walking in His footsteps?

Click here for the reading: Ezekiel 34:11-16.

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel…” (Ezekiel 34:2).

“As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats.” (Ezekiel 34:17)

Ezekiel’s wonderful prophecy of the Lord God himself being His people’s shepherd is sandwiched between two harsh judgements.  Neither the shepherds of Israel nor the sheep escape without blame.  Neither the shepherds of Israel nor the sheep can boast of great virtue.  To the shepherds Ezekiel is sent to say: “Should not the shepherds feed the sheep?” (Ezekiel 34:2) And against the sheep he asks: “Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture?” (Ezekiel 34:18)

It is bad enough when the people are like sheep without a shepherd.  But the situation in Ezekiel’s day was even worse.  They had shepherds who were gorging themselves on the sheep.  And the sheep themselves were living in arrogance and greed, with the strong taking advantage of the weak in every conceivable way. 

The shepherds of Israel were those in positions of authority.  Scripture speaks of the kings of Israel as shepherds.  But the term can also be used more broadly for priests and other political authorities.  And while authorities in two of the three estates are mentioned, it is proper to understand fathers and husbands too as shepherds of their own families.  What had gone wrong in Israel during Ezekiel’s time is not unique to Israel.  Authorities in society, in the church, and in families shirk responsibilities and duties all the time.  And so the sheep suffer.  Then, and now.

The history books of the Old Testament provide no shortage of examples.  Wicked kings and faithless priests appear throughout the pages of Scripture.  And the resultant damage to the flock of God’s people is amply recorded too.  Only scan the prophets and you will see that as it went among the leaders so it became among the people.  The sheep not only suffer from the neglect of the shepherds but learn to be just like them.  Like father like son. Like king like people. Like priests like congregation. 

Nevertheless, Ezekiel is not sent only to condemn the shepherds and the sheep and to warn against the abuse of authority.  He is sent with a promise from the Lord God: “I myself will be the shepherd.” (Ezekiel 34:15)  The continual and repetitive use of the personal pronoun along with its emphatic repetition, “myself,” adds exclamation points to the Lord’s promises.  The promise of being shepherd is attended with a whole constellation of functions that he will perform.  Searching for (vs. 11), seeking (vs. 11), rescuing (vs. 12), bringing them out (vs. 13), gathering and bringing them in (vs. 13), feeding (vs. 13, 14, 16), making them lie down (vs. 15), binding up the injured (16), strengthening the weak (vs. 16), and destroying the strong (vs.  16) are all mentioned.

While Ezekiel 34’s promises certainly speak of the return from exile, it is evident from our Lord’s words in John 10 that He has come to deliver the sheep not just from Babylon but from eternal enemies.  The return from exile is incomplete without the Lord’s incarnation, atonement, and resurrection.  It is in His life and voice that the pasture of the flock is truly entered into. As the preacher prepares his sermon he will find plenty of comparisons and contrasts between exile and death, return and resurrection that will serve to magnify the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Click here for the reading: Mark 16:1-8.

The women were too slow.  But who can blame them?  The crux of the matter is that the Lord is just too fast.  Judah’s lion bounds out from the grave.  The bridegroom leaves his chamber like a strong man running his course with joy.  And by the time the women arrive, somberly walking to anoint his dead body, He is not there, their task rendered utterly unneeded.

The speed of our Lord is not emphasized here as though he just intends to win a race.  Neither is our Lord trying to avoid his people.  Rather, it is as the young man (angel) says, “To Galilee he goes before you…”. He makes haste to pave the way for his people to follow. 

It is strikingly odd that on Easter Sunday we have a reading from which Christ is absent.  We know from later verses and the other Gospels that Jesus didn’t simply leave them in his wake.  He came back to those women, to his disciples, and eventually even to 500 others.  But, on Easter morning, at the tomb, it is the “going ahead” that is emphasized.

Much can be made of the “going ahead” of our Lord.  So much is spoken of in our times about forming and becoming good leaders.  But already long ago Christ was, or shall we say, is, the great leader.  That primal call, “follow me,” which he spoke with such magnetic force that Andrew and Peter, James and John, abandoned their business and their own fathers to follow.  The Lord has always been the one who “goes ahead,” of his disciples.

Accompanying his speed, his going ahead, though is a title and a promise.  The young man at the tomb makes sure that the women know that the crucifixion has not receded into history.  It has left its mark.  So he titles the Risen Lord, “the crucified one,” which in Greek is a perfect passive participle, emphasizing the ongoing effect of the crucifixion.  Easter Sunday is probably not the time to take your congregation on a Greek grammar tour, but the point can and should be quickly and powerfully made.  The one who goes ahead is not an unknown enigma.  He is now and forever, “The Crucified.”  All who know him as this, know Him well and can safely and confidently follow where he goes.

The promise is given after the title, “You will see him in Galilee, just as He said to you.”  Context is important here, lest we suppose we must book a flight to Tel Aviv and make plans for a trek to that ancient village.  To the apostles the Galilean appearance was promised.  Not so the church.  But do we not have our own promises?  Where has the crucified one who is now risen promised that we will see Him?  (Every Lutheran preacher worth his salt will know how to answer and proclaim this)

Finally something should be said about the women’s reaction.  We shouldn’t blame them for being too slow, and neither should they be faulted for being fearful and silent.  After all, it isn’t every day that a man is raised from the dead.  While we do not aim to generate emotions, there is value to proclaiming the fear, the awe, the dread of the Lord that overcame them there at the tomb.  Do we dare to become accustomed to the risen Lord?  Do we suppose Him to be at our beck and call?  Let it never be so!  He, the crucified one, still is He who goes ahead of you.

Consider what and who your people follow.  Who are the wise and learned who go ahead into the future and call us to follow their guidance?  What token of trustworthiness do they leave behind that would garner our faith?  Is there anything people stand in awe of anymore today?  Is there a sense of wonder or excitement or has all been reduced and explained away?  What would a healthy dose of the fear of the women do for a Christian?  Might it be worth inculcating?

Click here for the reading: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

The greatest of all festivals in old Israel was the Passover.  And connected to Passover was the week long celebration of unleavened bread.  Set free from Pharaoh’s bondage the people of Israel went out with haste.  To facilitate that haste the Lord had commanded them to eat bread without leaven, bread that did not require time to rise.  The food of freedom was to facilitate a hasty escape.

This then became an ordinance in Israel.  For one week’s time, beginning with the day of Passover, no leaven was to be used.  What’s more, the old leaven was not only kept in the pantry, but was discarded.  Just as Egypt and all its works and all its ways had been physically left behind, so too the people of Israel were to annually discard their leaven and leave behind the spiritual Egypt and all its works and all its ways that had crept back into their hearts.

Writing to the Christian congregation at Corinth St. Paul speaks of the fulfillment of that Old Testament festival.  He identifies Christ Jesus with the Passover lamb, sacrificed for the people’s redemption from sin, and the Christian Church with the unleavened bread, cleansed from sin’s leavening effects.  This indicative reality comes with an imperative calling: “Become who Christ has made you to be, an unleavened lump.”

At Corinth, sin’s old leaven had been working through the congregation in many ways.  The immediate context is the sexually immoral man who was committing fornication with his own step-mother, something even the pagans would not tolerate.  Making matters worse, there was an air of arrogant boasting about this, as though the Christian congregation had been set free from sin for further sin!  Imagine Israel coming out of Egypt only to outdo Pharaoh in idolatrous worship!  Was Christ raised to be a servant of sin?

The Apostle warns his erring congregation that sin’s tolerance and boasting will not remain isolated, but will spread through the whole lump.  The Church is not a loosely affiliated association of individuals, but an organically united whole.  Malice and evil are to be guarded against so that sincerity and truth may have free reign.

The festival that Paul speaks of celebrating was not confined to a day, a week, or even a 50 day, “tide,” but encompassed all of life.  While the reading certainly has application for the importance of pastoral oversight and corporate discipline in a congregation, there is also an individual application.  Each individual participates in the corporate life of the congregation and has a responsibility to the others to offer all of life as a living sacrifice.

Consider the obstacles to sincerity and truth that your hearers live with.  While St. Paul could speak in powerful images of the leaven of malice and evil, he also specified what he meant by this in detail, giving a healthy example for preachers to name the sins that would leaven their congregation if unchecked.  Lists of vices are part of the Pauline corpus.  But so are lists of virtues.  Consider too that hearers need to hear sincerity and truth identified and praised.  Without a vision of the beauty of holiness will anyone pursue it?

Click here for the reading: Job 19:23-27.

Job was “blameless and upright,” before the Lord.  In God’s sight there was, “no one like him in all the earth.”  And yet, Job suffered like one full of blame and iniquity.  In his sufferings he looked for aid and found none.  He spoke with his friends, his counselors, and found no support.  So he appeals again and again to the Lord.

The famous words that we hear in chapter 19 come hard on the heels of Job’s lament that everyone has forsaken him.  He starts by lamenting that his friend, Bildad, has wrongfully accused him of unrighteousness.  But the list goes on.  Job feels forsaken by God and that forsakenness trickles down through every human relationship.  His brothers, relative, close friends, guests, servants, even wife and children seem against him.

The clear implication of all of this is, “where can I look for help?”  It is this question that the reading gives answer to.  He appeals to an unknown Redeemer.  Unnamed, but living, the Redeemer will vindicate Job out of his living death.  In this, the redeemer is not just one who buys back, but who serves as an advocate.  Before the Lord and before the world.  The Redeemer will raise Job up so that He will be able to see God with his own eyes.  There is an adumbration of resurrection in these words of the sufferer.  Job’s heart faints at the very thought of this, though whether in ecstatic joy or in exhaustion is unclear.

Job’s sufferings transcend his own time and person.  He is a pattern of the greater one who will come long after him, the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who though he was blameless and upright in every way, suffered for the unrighteous, the innocent in the place of the guilty.  With the coming of Jesus, Job’s unnamed Redeemer, is now named and known.

This Redeemer sticks closer than all those other human relations who have abandoned Job. In His crucifixion he stands in with Job and with all of his creatures to the very end.  He laments beside Job and takes the forsakenness of His Father upon himself, bearing the full weight of sin and suffering Himself.  But, by His resurrection He is revealed to be the Redeemer who lives forevermore.  The advocate for all mankind has been raised up by the Father, vindicated before the whole world.  All then who hope in Him, who look to Him for help, will not be disappointed.

Consider where your hearers look for help.  Who are the alternative “redeemers,” that might be appealed to?  What help do they hold out?  Why are such helpers finally inadequate?  What is the redemption and advocacy that only Jesus can give?  How does this redemption cause the heart to faint?  Is it an exhausted fainting, or somehow a fainting that leads to conviction and strength to bear one’s burdens?