Holy Saturday is a tough challenge for a homiletician. It is a dark day on the Christian calendar. In some church traditions, there is no music and there are no flowers or colors to ameliorate the experience of death and despair as the Body of Christ meditates upon the experience of the church on that day 2000 plus years ago --- and the experience of Jesus in Sheol.
Can We Live Again?
Is that the question we ask this day on the church's calendar when we consider the time of Jesus in the tomb?
Is that the question we ask in our own darkest moments?
“If a man die, shall he live again?” (from Job 14:14)
The age-old cry of humankind is for eternal meaning. Is there anything beyond this world of pain and tears that brings meaning to these moments while transcending them? Is there a life beyond the grave or is all futile?
Perhaps Job did not really know the answer, but he did have a glimpse. We do know that, unlike most men and women, Job was willing to serve God for nothing. He was willing to worship the Lord with or without reward or promise of life.
Job's God was not running for office. His status did not depend upon human referendum. He was God and that was that. Because He was God, He deserved praise. Job would come into a deeper understanding of God's Sovereignty, but the seeds were present even before his testing.
As is true of Job's pressing questions, the answers come fully in Jesus Christ. The resurrection is the final statement of death's final defeat. For the one who follows Jesus, there is hope beyond death. John said that he was writing his gospel so that we might know we had eternal life.
There are countless men and women in our communities yearning for answers to the ultimate questions of life. God sets Job up as the ultimate example of an earnest seeker. He records Job's search so that we might identify and be led toward a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Job's story is our story. His yearning is our yearning. His needs are our needs - not to be free of pain and discomfort, but to see God face to face and find our answers in Him.
" For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven …” - II Corinthians 5:1-2
(NRSV)"A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble, comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last. Do you fix your eyes on such a one? Do you bring me into judgment with you? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one can. Since their days are determined, and the number of their months is known to you, and you have appointed the bounds that they cannot pass, look away from them, and desist, that they may enjoy, like laborers, their days. "For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant. But mortals die, and are laid low; humans expire, and where are they? As waters fail from a lake, and a river wastes away and dries up, so mortals lie down and do not rise again; until the heavens are no more, they will not awake or be roused out of their sleep. Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If mortals die, will they live again? All the days of my service I would wait until my release should come."