“Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:23-27).

Job’s words are written.

They are inscribed in a book.

And when you consider that some epitaphs include the words of Job that follow—his words are even inscribed with an iron pen and lead.

But what does it mean to have a Redeemer?

And of what significance is it that He lives?

What does it mean that your skin will be thus destroyed?

And how, after that, will you see God face to face?

These are good questions, and they all have their answer in the resurrection of our Lord.

First, consider the alternatives.

If there were no Redeemer.

That would be like a child with a broken spirit, who’s  learned after much neglect, not to expect good from Mom or Dad.

The hopelessness.

The loneliness.

The seeming insignificance.

It can be no surprise to us—the correlation and causation of godlessness and hedonism.

Or godlessness and all things anti-life.

If there is no redeemer, what is there to redeem?

And so life becomes meaningless—worth only what we say it’s worth, be it a bank balance or whatever other legacy is left.

But if there is a Redeemer, there’s value in your life and being—inherently, a priori. Maybe not in numbers we can measure, but we can measure it—in the love and sacrifice, the lengths to which the Redeemer goes to buy us back and win us away from whatever it is He redeems us.

And look at the purchase price—the holy body and precious blood of the Son of God.

There is nothing worth more—and He gave it all, even His own life—to redeem you. 

That’s what it is to have a Redeemer.

You are never without hope. Never alone in life. And never insignificant, because—

The Lord is your hope—that never fails.

The Lord is with you—until the end and then some.

He gives you and all life significance—in that He first became what He later redeemed.

But He died.

Job didn’t know that his Redeemer must die. He knew only that his Redeemer lives.

But if we are to be redeemed from sin, death, and satan, our Redeemer must die—that’s the purchase price.

But our Redeemer must also live—that’s our future.

To have a Redeemer gives us hope.

To have a Redeemer who died gives us confidence—that nothing is lacking or wanting or unfinished.

But to have a Redeemer who lives gives us life now and forever—for whatever might come our way, it cannot separate us from that love of God and the life to come.

This is what it is to have a Redeemer who lives.

But Job says that his skin will be thus destroyed.

In this moment, he knows that at some point he will die.

We all come to terms with that.

More and more as the days go on—we see, in our flesh, the evidence of our mortality—or we’re reminded of it in what we see in the world.

Our flesh will one day be destroyed.

Where then is our hope?

Where then is our Redeemer and redemption?

David writes in the psalm: “My heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption” (Psalm 16:9-10).

Both amidst sheep and men, David was familiar with death. Like Job, he knew the inevitability of it.

But his heart was glad, and his whole being rejoiced.

Contrary to what may seem logical—his flesh dwelt secure.

Though he would go the way of all flesh, he would not be abandoned to death and hell.

For the Holy One will not see corruption.

Our Redeemer—who died—His flesh will not be corrupted.

Such is the life of God—that death can’t touch it.

Such is the life of Jesus—that death and grave can’t stomach it.

As Jonah was vomited out of the fish and onto dry ground—that’s the word for it—so Jesus was vomited out of death, for the victory remains with life.

Though everyone of us will go with way of all flesh, our skin will be thus destroyed, yet in our flesh we will see God.

He did not abandon His Holy One to corruption.

Neither will he abandon us to death and hell—but raise us on the Last Day that we would behold Him and not another.

This is what it means to have a Redeemer.

What it means to have a Redeemer who lives.

This is what it means that our skin will be thus destroyed.

But this is what it means that we will see God face to face.

The words are written!

Inscribed in a book!

With an iron pen and lead they are engraved in the rock forever!

It is as though we write the epitaph ourselves: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Easter Day, 2021
Job 19:23-27; Mark 16:1-8
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

“And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?’” (Mark 16:2-3).

They had no one to roll away the stone.

Man was in their way, for it was Joseph of Arimathea who rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.

But worse than that, “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint [the dead body of Jesus]” (Mark 16:1).

They expected a dead body.

Death was in their way. Not the death of a body—Jesus lives! But the death of faith, the death of hearing the Word of God but not holding it fast in an honest and good heart, bearing fruit with patience.

In all that they do, they’re trying to be loving and faithful. But since they are not faithful, they are not loving.

It’s not just Man or Death that’s in their way but the God who dies and lives. And they turn from what He has told them.

This isn’t an allegory. There’s no very large stone that you just can’t move that God will just remove if you just pray hard enough.

Rather, there is the Word of the Eternal God.

Law and Gospel. Dirge and lute.

God speaks, and it is so.

The most important words that St. Mark records for us in today’s Gospel lesson might surprise you.

It’s not: “Do not be alarmed” (Mark 16:6).

It’s not: “He has risen; he is not here” (Mark 16:6).

It’s not: “He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him” (Mark 16:7). It’s none of those.

The most important words St. Mark records for us are these: “Just as he told you” (Mark 16:7).

God speaks, and it is so.

Thus says the Lord, and it’s true.

That’s why and how everything else comforts us.

Jesus said it. It’s true. Therefore…

Just as He told you, do not be alarmed.

It was necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things, be rejected by the elders and chief priests, and be killed—and on the third day rise (cf. Mark 8:31).

He was crucified, but, just as He told you, He has risen; He is not here.

He is going before you, and—just as He told you—you will see Him.

God speaks, and it is so.

Thus says the Lord, and it’s true.

“They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8).

They have heard—but they do not yet believe.

I’m not being harsh. Jesus rebukes the disciples for the same thing. St. Mark records, Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene. She told the disciples, but they wouldn’t believe it. Jesus, then, appeared to two of them. They went and told the others, but they didn’t believe it. Then, Jesus appeared to the eleven, ”and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen” (cf. Mark 16:9-14).

They heard, but they did not believe.

They saw and believed.

But blessed are you who have not seen. Blessed are you who hear the Word of God and hear it gladly.

Blessed are you who hold it sacred and learn it.

God speaks and it’s so. Thus says the Lord and it’s true.

Just as He told you. Do not be alarmed.

He is going before you, and there, someday, you’ll see him.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

The Resurrection of our Lord, 2020
Mark 16:1-8
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt