Just Hang In There – Easter 3
Just Hang In There
As Cleopas and the other disciple walked along the road discussing the mysterious and troubling events they’d experienced, a stranger joins them. He listens as they share their disappointment, their confusion and their expectation. Then he begins to teach as one with exceptional authority, starting with Moses and explaining through the scriptures the true nature of the Messiah.
During this Coronavirus time I’ve been taking a Bible study through THE HUB with actor Duffy Roberts. Our goal, to dig deep into the emotional and spiritual lives of the biblical characters by memorizing long sections of their words. I attempted – and failed – to memorize a chunk of Revelation. My new friend David immersed himself in a prayer of King David’s and Duffy, our instructor, focused on Job’s defense to God – some of the most beautiful poetry in scripture. Duffy, who has Coronavirus quarantine boredom syndrome, made a video of him portraying Job.
As he finished, Duffy shared with us a revelation he’d had while immersing himself in the passage. Job, he said, is Jesus. Jesus, in his earthly ministry, was the teacher and prophet who was respected at the city gate. He was eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, a father to the needy.
But then overnight Jesus lost everything. Those who once respected him now made sport of him. His soul becomes poured out within him. Days of affliction take hold of him. When he looked for good, evil came; and when he waited for light, darkness came.
Job suffered because it was his lot. Jesus suffered because it was his will. Was it not necessary, the stranger asks the disciples, that the Messiah should suffer these things? Jesus’ teaching has the potential, if we follow it, to lead us and our society into a radical new way of life. Jesus’ suffering and dying radically transforms the very relationship between humanity and God. In Christ God comes for us. In Christ God dies for us. In Christ God shows the very limits of human power, human authority, worldly systems. In Christ God binds himself forever to humanity, bringing us redemptive glory. As Paul says, the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounds for the many.
We’re in a time and a moment of suffering. Our suffering is relative – none of us are on a cross with Jesus, none of us are in an ash heap with Job – but we’re still suffering. Some feel trapped by the four walls of their houses. Some are exhausted by the stress of their essential jobs. Some have gotten sick. Some have had loved ones die without proper ritual. Some are hurting economically. Some are frustrated by the increased government presence in our lives, by being told what they can and cannot do. Like Job we remember how things were and lament how things have become. We cry out to God, to government leaders: we want this to end, to end now.
Although he was in the form of a god, Christ Jesus did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Jesus chose to suffer and die so that the world can live. He left his heavenly home. He abandoned his earthly prestige. He opened himself to betrayal by his followers, ridicule by his spiritual community and death by worldly authorities he could have overthrown with a snap of divine fingers. The one who suffered, by his suffering, brought life to many.
If Jesus did that, we can hang in there a few more weeks, or even a few more months. We can stay home a little longer, tighten our belts a little tighter, wear our masks a little prouder, so our neighbors, our families and ourselves can avoid the sickness, the death, stalking our communities