22 Luke 7.11-17 (2)
Do you remember the first funeral or wake you went to?
v Illustration: I remember the first time I went to a wake
Ø Mother of member of my Bible study
Ø It was open casket
Ø Family crying in corner
v In our text today, Jesus comes in contact with a wake
v Here Luke tells us that “soon after” he had healed the Centurion’s servant Jesus Traveled to a small city of Nain
Ø 60 miles south of Capernaum (Several days journey)
§ We are at the point in Jesus’ ministry where he travels from town to town preaching, teaching and healing
· More and more people hear and follow Jesus
¨ “Large crowds” Luke tells us
Ø Some following and believing
Ø Some following a great teacher and healer
§ But a large joyful crowd to be sure
v And this large crowd comes in contact with another crowd…
Ø A crowd of mourners being led by a mourning Mother
§ And this encounter reveals the Perfection of Christ
The Perfection of Christ
v Here Jesus is entering the town of Nain in order to do what he always does…
Ø When he comes into contact with a large crowd of mourning people
§ And these people were mourning!
· When we mourn,
¨ Wearing of dark or black suits
¨ Black arm bands
§ But nothing like the ANE
· ANE mourning was much more visual
¨ Cutting off hair & beard
Ø Symbolic of total loss and slow healing period
¨ Wearing sack cloth
Ø Symbolic of the discomfort you feel
¨ Loud wailing
¨ Tearing of cloths
¨ Putting dust on head
Ø And It just so happens at that time that this widow’ son was being taken out to be buried, Jesus happens upon the scene
§ What a Coincidence!
· …Or was it?
v If the truth be told, most us look upon life as a series of unchoreographed events
Ø And that is how we approach the Bible
§ But what we have to realize is that this is how the perfection of God is revealed
· Gen 22 ~ Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac
¨ There was a ram caught in the thicket
Ø Coincidence or the Perfection of God’s Sovereignty?
· Gen 24 ~ Abraham sends servant to find wife for Isaac
¨ He stops at a well
¨ Rebecca approaches at that exact time
Ø Coincidence or the Perfection of God’s Foreknowledge?
· Judges 7:9-25 ~ Gideon afraid of Midianites
¨ Overhears dream
Ø Coincidence or the Perfection of God’s encouragement?
· Ruth 2:3 ~ 2 widows return to Bethlehem Naomi and Ruth
¨ Naomi sends Ruth out to glean in the fields
¨ Goes to Boaz’ field
Ø Her kinsman redeemer
Ø Coincidence or the Perfection of God’s Provision?
Ø What we have to start coming to grips with is that the God we worship is the God of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
§ He knows all and plans all
v We have to slowly come to the realization that there are no coincidences in Christ
Ø That includes your life as well!
§ God knows your past, present and future completely
· READ Ps 139:1-4
¨ God knows everything because he is the author of everything
C. S. Lewis explains it this way in his book God in the Dock:
"In 'Hamlet' a branch breaks and Ophelia is drowned. Did she die because the branch broke or because Shakespeare wanted her to die at that point in the play? Either-both-whichever you prefer. The alternative suggested by the question is not a real alternative at all once you have grasped that Shakespeare is making the whole play. He is in control of everything that has happened, is happening and all that will happen!
v And that is how we have to understand God
Ø He knows the future because he is the author of everything
§ Augustine explains it this way…
· God is outside of time, thus everything is the eternal “now”
¨ Thus God is in control of everything
Ø God knowing the future makes some people uncomfortable
§ So uncomfortable that a great heresy has arisen
· Openness of God (explain)
¨ Endangers the very nature of who God is
Ø I don’t know about you but I want a God:
§ Who lives in the eternal “now”
§ Who knows the beginning and the end
§ Who is in control the outcome of life and history
§ Who directs the paths of men
§ Who is not coincidental but intentional in all matters
Ø And that is certainly what is shown in the life of Christ!
§ Everything he did
§ Everywhere he went
§ Everything he said
· Was for a reason
¨ There were no mere coincidences
§ John 9:1-3
§ The disciples ask Jesus about a man blind from birth
· They ask who sinned the parents or this man
§ Jesus answered, neither…
· This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life
Ø That is exactly what is happening here
§ RQ: Why did Jesus comes along at this particular time…
· So that the work of God might be displayed in his life
Ø And that is exactly what happens in your life!
§ We cannot approach life as merely a conglomeration of coincidences
· But realize that each encounter
¨ Each meeting
Ø Each person you come across is an opportunity for the work of God to be displayed in their life
· In a very real sense we are all sons and daughters of the widow of Nain
¨ Dead in our sins (Col 2:13)
Ø It is not until the work of God is displayed in our lives that we are brought to life
§ We are all evidence that Jesus still has the life-giving touch!
Ø RQ: Do you know someone who doesn’t know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?
§ Then the next time you bump into them know it is not a coincidence
· Think of this text
¨ Jesus did not happen upon the widow’s son
Ø It was so that the work of God might be displayed in his life
§ You are there so that the work of God might be displayed in their life!
v But many times it is not a convenient time
Ø We have other things to do
§ Other things that press in on our time
Clifton Fadiman tells a story about Vladimir Nabokov, the Russian-born novelist who achieved popular success with his novels Lolita, Pale Fire, and Ada. Nabakov's fiction has never been praised for its compassion; he was single-minded if nothing else.
One summer in the 1940s, Nabokov and his family stayed with James Laughlin in Alta, Utah, where Nabokov took the opportunity to enlarge his collection of butterflies and moths. One evening at dusk he returned from his day's excursion saying that during his pursuit of a butterfly near Bear Gulch he had heard someone groaning down by the stream.
"Did you stop?" Laughlin asked him.
"No, I had to get the butterfly I was pursuing."
The next day the corpse of an aged prospector was discovered in what has been renamed, in Nabokov's honor, Dead Man's Gulch.
We too chase butterflies!
Ø What butterflies are we chasing that we don’t take time out to share the words of life with others
§ How often are we so consumed in our schedule, our “to do’s” that we do not see the need around us
· Ministry is never convenient
v Here we see that Jesus sees the need, takes pity on the woman and thus takes time to comfort her
The Pity of Jesus
v V. 13
Ø When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
§ He took time out
· His compassion led him to action
v PEGGY NOONAN, speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, relates a story about Frances Green, an eighty-three-year old woman who lived by herself on Social Security in a town just outside San Francisco. She had little money, but for eight years she'd been sending one dollar a year to the Republican National Convention.
v Then one day Frances got an RNC fund-raising letter in the mail, a beautiful letter on thick, cream-colored paper with black-and-gold lettering. It invited the recipient to come to the White House to meet President Ronald Reagan. She never noticed the little RSVP card that suggested a positive reply needed to be accompanied by a generous donation. She thought she'd been invited because they appreciated her dollar-a-year support.
v Frances scraped up every cent she had and took a four-day train ride across America. Unable to afford a sleeper, she slept sitting up in coach. Finally she arrived at the White House gate: a little elderly woman with white hair, white powder allover her face, white stockings, an old hat with white netting, and an all-white dress, now yellow with age. When she got up to the guard at the gate and gave her name. The man glanced over his official list, frowned, and told her that her name wasn't there. She couldn't go in.
v A Ford Motor Company executive who was standing in line behind her watched and listened to the little scenario. Realizing something was wrong, he pulled Frances aside and got her story. Then he asked her to return at nine o'clock the next morning and meet him there. She agreed. In the meantime, he made contact with Anne Higgins, a presidential aide, and got a clearance to give her a tour of the White House and introduce her to the president.
v The next day was anything but calm and easy at the White House. Ed Meese had just resigned. There had been a military uprising abroad. Reagan was in and out of high-level secret sessions. But Frances Green showed up at nine o’clock, full of expectation and enthusiasm.
v The Ford executive met her, gave her a wonderful tour of the White House, then quietly led her by the Oval Office, thinking maybe, at best, she might get a quick glimpse of the president on her way out. Members of the National Security Council came out. High-ranking generals were coming and going. In the midst of all the hubbub, President Reagan glanced out and saw Frances Green. With a smile, he gestured her into his office.
v As she entered, he rose from his desk and called out, "Frances! Those darn computers, they fouled up again! If I'd known you were coming I would have come out there to get you myself'
v He then invited her to sit down, and they talked leisurely about California, her town, her life and family.
v The president of the United States gave Frances Green a lot of time that day-more time than he had. Some would say it was time wasted. He knew this woman had nothing to give him, but she needed something he could give her.
Ø And it is the same here
§ The widow had nothing that she could give Jesus
· But Jesus had something that only he could give her
¨ Her son back
Ø And that is exactly what he did…
The Power over Death
v READ V. 14-15
Ø There are only 5 instances in Scripture of people being brought back from the dead
§ And if we look at them, we find a theme running through them all:
· Elijah 1 Kings 17:20-22
¨ Spread himself over the body 3 times
¨ Carried him to his mother
· Elisha 2 Kings 4:32-35
¨ Gave son to Shunnamite mother
· Jesus & Jairus’ daughter Mark 5:41
¨ “Talitha Koum”
¨ “Little girl, I tell you, get up”
Ø Restored the relationship with her father & mother
· Jesus and Lazarus John 11:43
¨ “Lazarus, come out”
Ø Restored to his sisters, Mary and Martha
· Jesus and the widow from Nain
¨ “Young man, I say to you, get up”
Ø Gave him back to his mother
Ø Theme: Restoration of family
§ Restore a broken family…broken by death
v Yet there was one more person that was brought back from the grave, wasn’t there?
Ø Jesus Christ
§ And he came back from the grave for the same reason
· To restore a broken relationship
¨ Between God and mankind
Ø Broken in the Garden of Eden
Ø Broken because of our disobedience
Ø So broken that we became enemies of God
§ Col 1:21
· Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
¨ Enemies of God! (Rom 5:21)
Ø Perhaps some of you here know what that is like
§ Perhaps some of you know what it is like to have a broken relationship with a parent
· Where you don’t talk, don’t relate, don’t share
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's parents disapproved so strongly of her marriage to Robert that they disowned her. Almost weekly, Elizabeth wrote love letters to her mother and father, asking for a reconciliation. They never once replied. After ten years of letter writing, Elizabeth received a huge box in the mail. She opened it. To her dismay and heartbreak, the box contained all of her letters to her parents. Not one of them had ever been opened!
Today those love letters are among the most beautiful in classical English literature. Had her parents opened and read only a few of them, a reconciliation might have taken place.
Ø God has written us a love letter…
§ The Bible
· And if we but open it we would find a love so deep that he not only wrote us a letter…
¨ But sent his son to die on the cross for your sins and mine
Ø Col 1:21 continues in verse 22…
§ Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation
v God offers each person reconciliation through his sons’ death
Ø We just have to believe in Jesus
§ And this reconciliation God offers does not just makes us friends…
· But sons and daughters!
¨ Gal 4:4-7
Ø But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
v Just as Jesus gave the widow back her son…
Ø Jesus gives us back to our heavenly Father
§ Jesus conquered death to restore the family of God
Ø Opinion polls
· Gallup Polls
¨ George Gallup
· Quinipiac Poll
· Pew Charitable Trust
¨ Media & Politics
· Harris Poll
· Nielsen ratings
· Push Polls ~ Used to sway people’s opinion
· Exit polls
Ø In the ANE the funeral procession was led by the family
v And this mother was in mourning!
Ø I remember the first time I went
Ø Describe burial process
§ Same day
§ Corpse prepared for burial
§ Placed on Brie (Open coffin)
§ Professional mourners
§ Mother leading procession
Ø Describe Mother’s situation
§ No son
§ No means
· But is it???
¨ A close look at the Scriptures reveals that
¨ We say that all the time
¨ Luck, Fluke, serendipity, fate, happenstance, karma
¨ I remember one of the strangest coincidences I had…
Ø Working in Japan met someone from Ridgefield @ NOVA
§ 13,000 miles away and I meet a person from a town of 20,000 in CT!
· But as a Christian, we must know that there is no such thing as a coincidence
¨ No coincidences in Christ
Ø If you read you Bible you will notice many “coincidences”
§ But are they really???
§ The great lesson of Lam 3:32
· Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love
¨ In Jesus, there is never brings grief without relief
v Jesus’ compassion drives him to comfort the woman
Ø Phil 2:1-2
§ If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose
· What this verse is saying is that…
¨ If you have experienced any comfort from Jesus’ love
Ø Any sense of belonging or fellowship
Ø Any of Christ’s tenderness
Ø If you have experienced the compassion of Jesus in your life…
§ Then be like-minded
· You’ve heard, “Be like Mike”
¨ Well this text is instructing us to “Be like Jesus”
¨ Do to others as has been done to you
· Here Jesus takes time to comfort
¨ And we should take time out to comfort those around us as well
Ø And a lot of times it will not be convenient
§ It will not be the right time
§ The need arises
¨ Not using many words, but just three
Ø “Do not cry”
v Jesus’ compassion drives him to sacrifice
Ø Willing to become unclean
§ Describe ritual uncleanness from touching the corpse
· Num 19:11, 16
Ø And that is what compassion boils down to for you and me also…
· If you have any comfort from Christ’s love, then be like minded and sacrifice
§ Eph 2:1-3
· As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.