Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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My Church, here in the US, has given me the responsibility to give a sermon on Holy Wednesday of the Pascha week. I have been reading and became impressed by the character of Job in the Old Testament. I am finding difficulty connecting him to the Holy week. The only connection I have is that he suffered and Jesus Christ suffered also. What else can be added?

The holy Book of Job reveals the accusatory nature of Satan toward humanity and God's sovereignty and justice for the human soul. Satan accused Job of lacking loyalty to God, claiming that had it not been that Job enjoyed a period of prosperity, he would have long ago deserted his faith and forsaken his righteousness. Having studied human psychology at its best and worst, Satan shameless attacked Job at the most opportune time. He knew the character of Job, but the depth and strength of his soul was not revealed to him because it remained in God's hands. Satan warred against St. Peter in a similar fashion, and again we witness Christ's intervention to save him from himself. "And the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.' But he said to Him, 'Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.' Then He said, 'I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.'" (Luke 22:31-34). God does not refuse Satan's feeble demands to declare war against God's children. God uses these battles to pour out His love and grace upon His children, as He did for the righteous Job, St. Peter, and for all of humanity, if they trust in Him, for He watches and guards them day and night.

In the discourse between God and Satan, God reveals the power of the virtue of patience demonstrated by steadfast perseverance in all challenges. "By your patience possess your souls" (Luke 21:19). During Holy Week, we witness Christ's total submission to suffering instigated by Satan, the accusations of the people, the trial, the scourging, the mocking, the humiliation, the spitting, and the emotional pain of abandonment by the so-called friends. Christ was denied and betrayed and Job's closest allies also turned on him, ridiculed him, and accused him of being a sinner. They perceived Job's afflictions as due punishment for his sins and his wife even encouraged him to curse God. As Christ hung on the cross, He was berated by the soldiers, onlookers, and one of the criminals hanging on a cross beside Him. "Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.' And they divided His garments and cast lots. And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, 'He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.' The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, and saying, 'If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.' And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, 'If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us'" (Luke 23:39).

The apostle Paul shared in Job's struggles when he also endured infirmities and despite asking for healing, Christ had a different solution. "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Job's pains were a manifestation of God's grace and not as a punitive measure. Job had a loving relationship with God and Satan could not stand it. Thus, we pray in the Diving Liturgy regarding how sin entered the world through the envy of Satan. This will always be the relentless human battle with Satan and his demons. Many have fallen and succumbed to the wiles and trickeries of the devil in moments of weakness. The rope out of the quagmire of despair is repentance and restoration through the grace of God. If it was really up to Satan, all of humanity would die and perish. Satan attacked all of Job's children by death as he desired for all mankind. This heart-wrenching episode in his life is one that God faced from the time of the fall of humanity. It was always Satan's plan to separate God from man. God united with man in Christ. He sent His Only Begotten Son to die for all of humanity and abolish the sting of death. Thus, the conclusion of the Book of Job is restoration by the grace of God. Through Christ Jesus, God's plan of Salvation restores humanity back to the grace of God. Job then has new children, and Salvation for the world includes the Gentiles, God's new children.

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