This week leading up to Easter I am posting with permission a series of Lenten Reflections written by members of our church in Maynooth. Some are written pre-COVID-19.
Diadem of Thorns
The story of Job is one of the most frustrating and dissatisfying books, for many, in the Bible. It revolves around the age old question of human suffering, among other themes.
It opens in wondrous Jewish story telling style, with events taking place outside of the main protagonist’s realm of existence. In the heavenlies no less, with the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (Eph 6:12) coming to mind, about powers and principalities in heavenly places.
Throughout the story, as it unfolds, Job protests his integrity and uprightness before his judgemental friends, while seeking a fair hearing from his Creator. Job’s pain, grief, loss and sorrow are palpable, being compounded by his so-called ‘Comforters’ attitude to his plight, even his wife doesn’t seem to help (Job 2:9)!
When Job does finally get his audience with his Maker, the whole conversation and outcome leaves me with a rather metallic taste in my mouth, of God, integrity and justice. Gloucester’s refrain, from Shakespeare’s King Lear, aptly echoes through my mind:
“As flies to wanton boys,
We are to the Gods.
They kill us for their sport.” (King Lear, Act 4 SC i)
Especially so, in relation to Job’s children.
But there is a quote from Job’s own lips, which calls out to me. It reminds me of the age-old adage about the Old and New Testaments, part of which states; ‘The New is in the Old concealed’ (Augustine of Hippo).
25 I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
with my own eyes – I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19:25-27 (NIVUK)
‘How my heart yearns within me’. How indeed, and this spoken by a man, long before Abraham answered his son Isaac in Moriah, with the words:
‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’
Genesis 22:8 (NIVUK)
In my mind’s eye I am at another time, in that mountainous region of Moriah. In a place they call ‘the skull’. At that moment they are killing the unblemished Passover lambs in Jerusalem. But before me, His arms outstretched and nailed to a rugged beam, is a human ‘lamb’. Yeshua, the incarnate word, God’s own Son. His royal diadem a crown of thorns. At the foot of His throne both wrath and mercy have met.
A drop of blood from His thorny crown falls upon my cheek and mingles on my lips. It tastes metallic, an iron-willed love with sorrow mixed.
John the Baptist’s voice carries on the wind and darkening sky:
‘Hineh, Seh HaElohim’ (behold, the lamb of God…)