Imagine you wanted to turn the story of Job into a play, but not a historical play. You have no interest in telling the old story of a man who was robbed and suffered. You’re much more meta than that. No, you want a gospel play. You want to tell the good news story of Jesus using characters from the story of Job.
How would you do that? And who would play which role?
I love the gospel and I love the story of Job, so this is something I’ve thought about. In fact, every time I read the Bible I ask myself, what does this story reveal about Christ’s larger story? How does this help me understand Jesus and what he’s done? This is not a whimsical exercise; this is serious Bible study. But maybe you’ve never thought about like this. Maybe you just read the Bible stories in isolation. If so, you’re missing out.
Whenever you read the scriptures there is always more going on than meets the eye. There is always a larger Truth to be unveiled, and something about Jesus to discover.
Allow me to illustrate using the play-scenario just mentioned. If I was to preach the gospel using characters from the story of Job, this is how I would cast it:
- Job would play the role of fallen humanity, bound by fear and wondering “why me?” When we first meet Job he is acting like Adam, trying to cover his family’s sins through religious activity. He’s bringing sacrifices out of fear and superstition, and he dreads losing what he loves. Act 1, Scene 2, Job loses what he loves.
- Job’s three useless friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, represent manmade religion. Or perhaps the old covenant. Their unhelpful focus on sin and what we must do about it, add drama and confusion in Act 2.
- Elihu, like Jesus, is the good news herald revealing the true character of God. In the final act of the play, he lifts Job’s gaze heavenward and paints pictures of amazing grace. Elihu gets to deliver one of the best lines in the play: “Oh, Job, don’t you see how God’s wooing you from the jaws of danger? How he’s drawing you into wide-open places, inviting you to feast at a table laden with blessings?” (Job 36:16).
- God, who appears in the opening and closing scenes of the story, plays several roles. In the beginning, he is Elohim and Lord above all. Then he is the Prophet calling out Job’s eternal destiny. He calls the sinner “a perfect and an upright man.” Near the end of the play, when all seems lost, God is revealed as the powerful Creator. He reminds us that nothing is too hard for him. Then finally, he is the Redeemer, making something beautiful out of the pieces of Job’s fractured life.
Job was no Jesus, and we should be thankful he wasn’t. Like many of us, Job encountered hardships that were greater than his resources. But then he encountered a grace far greater than his pain. And that’s the story of good news and how it lifts us, heals us, and blesses us.
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