Devotion for February 4 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

Above:  Tragic Mask

Image Source = Holger.Ellgaard

Job and John, Part I:  Suffering

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2018

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Job 1:1-22

Psalm 5 (Morning)

Psalms 84 and 29 (Evening)

John 1:1-18

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Some Related Posts:

A Prayer for Those Who Are Tortured:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/a-prayer-for-those-who-are-tortured/

A Prayer for Those Who Inflict Torture:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/a-prayer-for-those-who-inflict-torture/

God Be In My Head:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/god-be-in-my-head/

Prayers for Those Who Suffer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/prayers-for-those-who-suffer/

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With this day the Lutheran daily lectionary takes a turn into two great books:  Job and the Gospel of John.  I have read these closely but never together.  So I look forward to that experience.  I wonder what parallels, contrasts, and connections will become apparent.

It is crucial to avoid reading the Book of Job anachronistically if one is to understand what is happening in its pages.  Satan is God’s employee in the text.  His job is to test the loyalty of people–in this case, Job.  The theology of Satan’s role relative to God did not make him a rebel until the Persian period in Jewish history, and the Book of Job, with all of its layers of composition (at least four, according to The Jewish Study Bible), is pre-Persian.  So Job, a good man, suffers because God permits it.  That is what the Book of Job says.

Turning to the the Johannine Gospel, we read the glorious prologue.  There is much to comment on there, but I focus on the thread of rejections, for that led to Christ’s suffering.

The Word was the real light

that gives light to everyone;

he was coming into the world.

He was in the world

that had come into being through him,

and the world did not recognise him.

He came to his own

and his own did not accept him.

–John 1:9-11, The New Jerusalem Bible

Job, a purely fictional figure, suffered not because of what he had done.  Jesus, who was real, also suffered not because of any sin or consequences thereof.  The question of suffering and its causes is vexing much of the time.  As Mayer Gruber, in his introduction to the Book of Job in The Jewish Study Bible, pointed out excellently, those who insist that suffering must result form one’s sins think that suffering must be deserved.  This argument, which the Book of Job contradicts, leads one to falsify the character of the one who suffers and that of God, whom such a one who makes the argument seeks to defend.  Yet, Gruber reminds his readers, God does not offer an explanation for suffering.

That is, in the LORD’s argument, the reasons for suffering–if there are any–are simply beyond human comprehension.  (page 1500)

The Book of Job ends without having explained in a satisfactory way why Job suffered.  Yes, God permitted it in Chapter 2, but who does that make God look?  And, in the Gospel of John, the incarnate Son of God finds his glory on the cross.  How is that for counter-intuitive?  Things are not always as they seem.

Until the next segment of our journey….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 13, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT HERMENEGILD, VISIGOTHIC PRINCE AND ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUGH OF ROUEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, ABBOT, AND MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARTIN I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN BISHOP OF TALLINN

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/job-and-john-part-i-suffering/

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