KMC – 3.10.2021
Job 23:1-9, 16-17
The book of Job is classified as Wisdom Literature. It is a genre that was common in the Near East at the time. Whilst there are differing opinions as to which books of the Bible should be categorised in this grouping, the books of Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Proverbs and some of the Psalms can be included. Neither the date of writing nor the author can be identified, but it seems likely that the author was someone with personal knowledge of the events that occurred. In this passage Job has just listened to his friend Eliphaz speaking for the third time. Job does not respond directly but ignores all his friends and turns his attention to God. He says he longs to meet God so he can present his case to him or at least hear what he has done wrong from God Himself. Job is sure God will clear his name. (This is a change of heart from Job’s earlier speeches.) Job looks for God everywhere but cannot find Him. However, in spite of Job’s certainty that God will exonerate him, the idea that God’s power and might are so awesome, and awful, causes Job to slide into despair again. Even so, he tries to prepare himself for when He will, eventually, meet God.
Psalm 22 is one of the psalms people turn to when they are distressed. It holds a special place for Christians as the opening words were cried out by Jesus on the cross. The psalm is attributed to King David, who often found himself in stressful situations. It is obvious he himself was suffering when he wrote this psalm. He asked why God had forsaken him. His repeated use of the words ‘My God’ reveals both his relationship with God and the depth of his agony. The question he asked holds an element of surprise. Perhaps he (David) couldn’t work out what he had done to deserve God’s absence. The agony is magnified when we think of Jesus crying these words out. He had never known the absence of the Father before. Whatever the situation, even though God seemed to be so far away, the psalmist still prayed to Him. He cried out day and night, even though there seemed to be no answer. He did not show any anger towards God. He knew who God is and that He is on the throne of the praises of His people Israel. Nothing will change the psalmist’s (or Jesus’) conviction of the belief that God is holy. The psalmist remembered how others had called on God in the past, and God had responded to them favourably. Jesus also used these words, indicating how He identified with His people, even on the cross.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote this passage to convince his readers to persevere with their Christian lifestyle. Jesus, he writes, was superior to the angels, to Moses and to Aaron. In John’s Gospel, Jesus is called the Word (John 1:1). Now the author declares that God’s Word uncovers the hidden secrets of the human heart. In the same way as God has life and power, so does the Word. God meets us in His Word and the Holy Spirit works through the Word. So humanity receives health, fruitfulness, healing power, cleansing, peace, etc. through the Word of God. But it is also a sharp, two-edged sword with a point like a fencing foil, and it can cut a conscience and pierce through the hardest heart. As a result, nothing can be hidden from God for men and women are opened up by this sharp sword. This is how Scripture, the living, powerful Word of God, can often speak into a person’s circumstances at any time. The writer moves on to speak about Jesus. Jesus is the only ‘great’ high priest in existence. No other high priest was called ‘great’. He is also the only one with a ministry in heaven. Both of these attributes are a result of Jesus being the Son of God and the Son of Man. Now the recipients of this letter have been informed of this, they are encouraged to hold onto their faith and not revert to their previous Jewish practices.
The young man in this passage was full of enthusiasm for Jesus. He wants to follow Him – to do whatever he must to be one of His people. But Jesus is having none of this emotional enthusiasm and tells him right from the start to count the cost. Jesus tells the young man that he needs a relationship with God not just the teacher or preacher who is delivering the message that has him so worked up. Jesus emphasises that a respectable way of life is not enough. The man told Jesus he had never done anything wrong in that he kept the commandments. But Jesus, in effect, asks him what good he has done. Jesus points out that to be respectable lies in not doing things; to be a Christ-follower lies in doing things. Jesus challenges him to let go of what he owns, but the man could not do it. It is as if Jesus is asking ‘how much do you really want to follow Me?’ And the man has to answer, ‘Not so much that I have to make sacrifices.’ Jesus’ look conveyed all the love, challenge and grief He felt for the young man. His refusal to accept the challenge was not enough for Jesus to stop loving him, but it broke the Master’s heart. Jesus turned to His disciples and shocked them by His words about money. It was accepted Jewish belief that God’s blessing equated to prosperity. He was turning their belief on its head. In response to their question about who could be saved if those with possessions could not, Jesus told them to trust in the redeeming love of God. Only in this way could anyone be saved.
Peter could not keep quiet. He and the rest of the disciples had given up everything to follow Jesus. But Jesus stops him with an answer before he could ask how all this teaching applied to them. Jesus told His friends:
• Anything they had given up for His sake would be repaid a hundred times.
• But material sacrifice could not be thought of as a bribe, nor would it be repaid with material reward.
Jesus was completely honest. It would not be easy being a Christ-follower. He offered no bribe to persuade
people to follow Him. The blessings to be received would occur in the world to come and would last for
• God Himself would decide what rewards would be given to whom. Jesus warned against pride. Only God knew who
would be rewarded and what that reward would be. And His decision may well upset the reasoning of those in
Points to Ponder:
• The readings this week seem to hold contrasting situations:
o Job longs to see God – and yet God’s power and might make Job reluctant to see Him;
o We can understand David’s cry that God seems to have forsaken him – and yet Jesus, the Son of God, cries
out these same words.
o The Hebrews were in the early stages of their Christian walk – and yet they were tempted to revert to their
well-known, comfortable Jewish ways;
o The rich young man was invited to let go of his material possessions, but when he could not, Jesus still
looked at him with love – and yet the disciples had given up everything to follow Jesus. What about them?
What ‘and yet …’ situation do you struggle with today? It may be a matter of asking for healing, or for
employment, or for understanding or guidance – and yet … What is the cry of your heart? What answer do you
• The Hebrews were tempted to revert to their old ways of practicing their faith as Jews. What old ways do
you yearn for? How do you feel about letting those old ways go and moving forward with the Church and the
family of God? What stops you from doing so? Who can you speak to amongst the Church leadership to express
your feelings – and then listen to their response as to why the change is necessary? How will that help/not
• Sunday, 2 October is International Holy Communion Day.
o What does the act of Holy Communion mean to you?
o How does the way Communion is shared in the Church now, as a result of both Covid and changing times,
affect the way you feel about it?
o Are you aware of Jesus there with you as you share Communion with the Body of Christ?
o Pray together as a group that Jesus will be close to you as you next share Holy Communion. Ask Him to help
you to experience in new ways the importance of this meal as you remember Him and what He has done for you.
o Share with one another what this prayer has meant for you.
God bless you this week.
Adeyomo, Tokunhoh, et al. Africa Bible Commentary. WordAlive Publishers, Nairoi, Kenya, 2006Barclay, William. Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Mark. Saint Andrew’s Press, Edinburgh. 1981
It is world-wide communion Sunday