Out of darkness into light

Saturday in Holy Week: Job 14:1-14 (or Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24); Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16; 1 Peter 4:1-8; Matthew 27:57-66 (or John 19:38-42)
Out of darkness into light – “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
When you don’t really know what you’re talking about, it’s a case of the less said the better.
That’s how Job feels about his ‘friends’- ‘Oh that would you keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!’(Job 13:5).
They are no help to him. What does he do next? He takes his problem to the Lord. Nothing seems clear to Job. He seems to be bogged down in his own suffering.
There is, however, a glimmer of light. A question comes into his mind – ‘If a man die, shall he live again?’ (Job 14:14).
Later on, Job gives the answer of faith: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives…Even after my skin has been stripped off my body, I will see God in my own flesh’ (Job 19:25).
‘Christ has been raised from the dead…Death is swallowed up in victory…Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:20, 54, 57).
Out of darkness into light – “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.”
There are times when it seems nothing is going right for us: ‘I am the man who has seen affliction…’ (Lamentations 3:1-3).
In such times, we must remember this: ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end’.
When we find ourselves in circumstances of great distress, we must learn to look beyond the things that are happening to us.
We must learn to look to the Lord and say, ‘Great is Your faithfulness’.
It will not be easy to see God at work in our lives when everything seems to be going wrong.
We must be patient as we wait for the blessing of the Lord to return to our lives.
We must put all our hope in the Lord, trusting in His precious promise: ‘The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord’ (Lamentations 3:22-26).
Out of darkness into light – the “spacious place” of God’s salvation
‘Into Thy hand, I commit my spirit’ (Psalm 31:5). These words were spoken by Christ as, in death, He gave Himself for our sins (Luke 23:46).
For Christ, there was suffering – ‘I am the scorn of all my adversaries’ (Psalm 31:11). His suffering was followed by rejoicing, the joy of the resurrection – ‘I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place’ (Psalm 31:7-8).
God answered the prayer of His Son – He brought Him into the ‘spacious place’ of the resurrection, the ‘spacious place’ which is, for us, ‘eternal salvation’ (Hebrews 5:7-9). We look to the crucified Christ and we say, ‘Praise be to the Lord, for He showed His wonderful love to me’ (Psalm 31:21).
In the risen Christ, we are ‘strong and our hearts take courage’ (Psalm 31:24).
Out of darkness  into light – Create in me, a clean heart, O God.
As we consider Christ who suffered for us, let us pray that we may have His ‘attitude.’ Let us commit ourselves to doing the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-2).
The Gospel was preached even to those who are now dead (1 Peter 4:6). As we read those words, let us commit ourselves to our God-given task of preaching the Gospel to those who are living.
We believe the Gospel – ‘Christ died for our sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God’. Let’s share the Gospel – ‘Be always ready to give…a reason for the hope that is in you.’
How are we to share the Gospel? – ‘with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:18, 15). We must get the attitude right – ‘so that nothing will hinder our prayers’ (1 Peter 3:7). We need more than the ‘right’ prayers – words that sound good. We need the right attitude. The blessing will not come because our words sound good. It will only come when our attitude is right.
Our obedience to God’s will, in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is to be grounded our prayer. Our preaching and prayer are to be grounded in praise.
In all the service we offer to God, there is to be the offering of worship: ‘To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever’ (1 Peter 4:11; 5:11).
We will not learn to serve God unless we are learning to worship Him.
There is a ‘form of religion’ which ‘denies the power’ of God – ‘These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me’ (2 Timothy 3:5; Matthew 15:8). They go through the motions – but their hearts are not in it!
We must pray that God will deliver us from this kind of thing: ‘O for a heart to praise my God! A heart from sin set free; A heart that always feels Thy blood, so freely shed for me’ (Church Hymnary, 85).
‘Religion’ is about respectability. Salvation is about renewal: ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me’ (Psalm 51:10).
Out of darkness into light – It was impossible for death to hold Christ.
The unbelieving world still denies Christ – ‘that imposter’ (Matthew 27:63) – and His resurrection – ‘fraud’ (Matthew 27:64). As believers, we must maintain our testimony: ‘He has risen from the dead’(64). The unbelievers expected a ‘fraud’. They did not expect a resurrection! For them, a resurrection was out of the question. God had a surprise in store for them! Unbelief says, ‘Resurrection? – Impossible!’. Faith says, ‘it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him’ (Acts 2:24). He has risen (Matthew 28:6) – Hallelujah!
Out of darkness into light – Love has the victory for ever.
Jesus was laid in the tomb (John 19:42).
Was this the end of His story? – No! There was more to come – the resurrection. His story did not end there – ‘Jesus had to rise from the dead’ (John 20:9).
On the Cross, Jesus had said, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). These are not words of despair. They are words of triumph.
At an early stage in His public ministry, Jesus said, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me to finish His work’ (John 4:34). Even then, He was looking ahead to the Cross, to the completion of the work of redemption.
In one sense, ‘it is finished’ – on the Cross. In another sense, there is more to be done – by the Father.
The Cross is followed by the resurrection – ‘God raised Him from the dead’ (Acts 2:24; Romans 10:9).
We read of Jesus’ death. We read of His burial – but His story does not end there!
This was a time of darkness: Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Saviour.
It was also the time of waiting: Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord.
Soon, the time of triumph would come: Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o’er His foes.
The story of Jesus Christ does not end with the darkness of His burial. Beyond the darkness, there is the light of His resurrection: He arose a Victor from the dark domain, and He lives for ever with His saints to reign.
For our salvation, Jesus died ‘and was raised to life’(Romans 4:25). The light shines brightly. It is the light of God’s love.
We hear the great declaration of Christ’s resurrection: He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose! (Mission Praise, 453).
We hear of the triumph of God’s love: Love has the victory for ever!
Inspired by the great declaration of Christ’s resurrection and the triumph of God’s love, let us respond with the worship of our hearts: Who can see Your greatest gift and fail to worship You? (Mission Praise, 86).

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