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(Part 13)


Job in many ways is very much like Jesus.

Both were pious and exemplary in their relationship to God. Job “was a blameless and upright man” (Job 1:1a). Jesus of course is the holy Son of God.

Both suffered terrible affliction. From head to foot. Satan “smote Job with severe boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.” (Job 2:7). Jesus was crowned with thorns, his whole body tortured, and his feet nailed to the cross.

Both were rejected and abandoned by those closest to them. Job said his brethren, friends, kinsfolk, companions, servants, young children, even his wife, all now reject him (Job 19:13-19). Jesus was thought crazy by his relatives, was betrayed by Judas, was abandoned by his disciples.

Both were exalted then vilified. Job was held in the highest esteem by everyone (Job 29:7-11,21-25); but that was totally reversed. As Job said, “But now they hold me in derision” (Job 30:1a). As to Jesus, those who sang his praises during his triumphant entry into Jerusalem were soon shouting “crucify him.”

Both were in anguish over their suffering. Job said, “Therefore am I dismayed before him” (Job 23:15a). He “cursed his day” (Job 3:1) and wished that he had never been born (Job 3:11). In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus “began to feel sorrow and distress” (Mt 26:37b), and “he was in such agony .... that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.” (Lk 22:44).

Both felt desolation and being forsaken. Job bitterly complained, “Your hands have formed me and fashioned me; will you then turn and destroy me?” (Job 10:8). He lamented, “You renew your attack upon me and multiply your harassment of me; in waves your troops come against me. Why then did you bring me forth from the womb? I should have died and no eye have seen me.” (Job 10:17-18). On the cross, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46).[1]

Both, however severe their suffering, did not sin against God. Job lost everything with the first trial, but “in all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.“ (Job 1:22). He suffered the second trial, but still, “through all this, Job said nothing sinful.” (Job 2:10c). As to Jesus, we have “one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” (Heb 4:15b).

Finally, both experienced victory in the end. Job was restored and was blessed even double. Jesus rose from the dead and ascended in glory into heaven.

In as much as Job and Jesus were similar in many ways, there are marked differences. I am not just talking about how Jesus is God and Job was just a man.

They differed in how they handled their suffering. Job was bitter. “I loathe my life. I will give myself up to complaint; I will speak from the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 10:1). He even blamed God, referring to God as “the Almighty, who has made bitter my soul” (Job 27:2b). Jesus on the other hand fully accepted what the Father had destined for him, saying at Gethsemane even as he was in agony, “not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt 26:39c).

Job insisted on his being just and righteous, even challenging God: “Let God weigh me in the scales of justice; thus will he know my innocence!” (Job 31:6). He wanted to be justified and treated fairly. On the other hand, Jesus accepted the very unfairness of an innocent victim suffering for the sins of others. He, who was truly just and righteous, who had no sin, took on our sins.

Job said a lot of things in his defense, both to refute his three friends and also as he addressed God. Jesus, facing false testimony that could put him to death, with his fate hanging in the balance, simply “was silent” (Mt 26:63a).

Job of course did not die as a consequence of or a culmination to his affliction. He lost everything except his life. But Jesus died. He gave everything, including his very life.

Job is a model for us. Of a man blameless and upright. Of one who proves faithful through severe trial. Of one who perseveres in affliction. But our perfect model is Jesus.

As we look at what happened to both Job and Jesus, we see the ultimate overturning of one’s affliction, as rejection is turned to redemption, as tragedy ends in triumph, as the victim finally enjoys the victory.

If ever we experience pain and suffering in life, we look to the story of Job, and of course the story of Jesus, and we are filled with hope. Suffering, endured in the grace and mercy of God, is redemptive. As such we can persevere. And as such we will be blessed. “Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of the perseverance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, because ‘the Lord is compassionate and merciful.’” (Jas 5:11).

As we begin to understand more the ways of God, as we see God as Job did, as we are formed and purified through affliction, as we are given the privilege to suffer as Jesus did, as we walk the way of discipleship and carry our cross, as we experience the mercy and compassion of God, then we are truly blessed.

The Almighty! Just and righteous is He.

(January 13, 2010)

[1] This is the opening line of Psalm 22. Jesus is praying the psalm, voicing out his lamentation but at the same time looking to deliverance and victory.

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