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Luke 7:11-35

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Luke 7:11–35 NIV
11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” 14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. 18 John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’ ” 21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” 24 After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 25 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is the one about whom it is written: “ ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.) 31 Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: “ ‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’ 33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”
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There are four major sections in this passage:

vs. 11-17 - The widow’s Son is Raised from the Dead
vs. 18-24 John sends messengers to inquire about Jesus as messiah
vs. 25-30 Jesus commends John
vs. 31-35 Jesus addresses the current generation

vs. 11-17 - The Widow’s Son Raised

The setting gives teeth to the idea of hopelessness.
She is a widow
Her son has died
For an Old Testament parallel you can see
1 Kings 17:17–24 NIV
17 Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” 19 “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. 20 Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” 22 The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!” 24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”
1 Kings 17:
Let me suggest this. This women is forced into close proximity to a looming human truth: the hopelessness of this life. Death is the great equalizer. Death is at war with hope. And death wins.
The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive Raising the Widow’s Son

there is inevitable death makes all of life meaningless unless you do one of two things. One is you just don’t think about it. Now there are a lot of ways to not think about it. You can do it through tremendous irony and cynicism, or you can do it through altruistic naïvety. There are all sorts of ways of doing it. One is you just don’t think about it. You don’t think out the implications.

You deny, you repress the implications, or you get a living hope. You get something that gives you not just confidence, but joy in the face of death. The message of Easter is that Jesus Christ is that living hope. The message of Easter is Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life. He has resurrection power. He has power over death.

Jesus takes the initiative to raise the boy from the dead.
Jesus takes the initiative to raise the boy from the dead
Do you have a relationship with that living hope?
Continue to tell the story from verse 17-23… John inquires with Jesus about whether he is the Messiah and Jesus responds.
John is struggling with his faith.
Note the contrast between the crowds in verse 16 who are saying “God has come to help his people.” and John questioning “Are you the one who is to come?”

Point #1 - Does the failure of a leader void the positive impact they’ve had in our life? (vs. 24-28)

We have faced this very question recently. As various movie stars have been revealed to be sexual predators and their current contracts have been canceled the question becomes: Can we still enjoy their past art? Where will they find redemption?
Matt Lauer
Charlie Rose
Richard Dreyfuss
Dustin Hoffman
Kevin Spacey
The early church wrestled with the very same issue. As the government persecuted the church there were some who denied the faith under pressure. They betrayed the church. Leaders turned from the faith.
And some church members were left wondering “Is my baptism valid even though the leader who baptised me has turned from the faith?” “Is my marriage valid even though the leader who married my spouse and I has turned from the faith?”
When stuff goes bad it leaves a question mark in people’s mind.
In some cases these leaders wanted to repent and be brought back into the church in good standing. This was the origin of penance in the Catholic church. Penance was originally a series of steps that a person could take to show that they were truly sorry for their betrayal.
And this is the case with John the Baptist in two ways:
He is in prison and his circumstances don’t necessarily reflect a person who is right.
He is wavering in his belief that Jesus is the messiah.
A question mark is hanging over John’s head for these two reasons.
Jesus addresses the elephant in the room and he starts by asking six questions that lead to a statement - vs. 26 “Yes [a prophet], I tell you, and more than a prophet.”
Six questions that lead to a statement - “Yes [a prophet], I tell you, and more than a prophet.”
Note: Six questions by Jesus that lead to a statement - “Yes [a prophet], I tell you, and more than a prophet.”
Jesus uses an analogy to describe his generation (vs. 31-32)
Why was it significant for Jesus to validate John the baptist as a prophet?
John has just questioned the validity of Jesus as messiah
Jesus explains the analogy based on John’s ministry and his own (vs. 33-35)
John is now alone in prison while the work of God unfolds
Many in Jesus audience had received the message of John and been baptized
Some in the crowd were secretly finding solace and comfort in John’s imprisonment because they had rejected his baptism
When stuff goes bad it leaves a question mark in our mind.
Was the past ministry I received from that individual or the things God taught me in that season really from God?
John is not alone in his imprisonment experience. Paul spent time being imprisoned. The early church faced persecution.
Many biblical heroes have failures, frailty and finitude.
We want heroes who have perfect tract records. We cherish the idea of a fighter who is undefeated.
Example: Jesus on the cross, the despondency and disappointment of the disciples.
Illustrations of feeling let down by public figures:
Paula Dean (Food Network) - Fired for making racist statements
Bill Cosby accused of giving date rape drugs to dozens of women
Lance Armstrong guilty of doping
Application:
Remember fragile vessels carry out the work of God
2 Corinthians 4:7–12 NIV
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
The true work of God in our life cannot be shaken.
Hebrews 12:27–28 NIV
The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,

Point #2 - Receiving God’s methods leads to an agreement with God, but a rejection of God’s methods leads to a disagreement with God - vs. 29 - 30

In order to understand this point we have to go back a few chapters and look at John’s ministry in
Luke 3:2–9 NIV
2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. 5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. 6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’ ” 7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Those who had received John the Baptist as the fulfillment of found themselves in agreement with God. But those who rejected the baptism of John rejected the purposes of God for their life.
The ministry of John interlocks with the ministry of Jesus.
We have been give the freedom to reject God’s methods in our life. We have the freedom to push away his people, his circumstances, his Word. But if we do reject his methods we will find ourselves on a path of disagreeing with him at every turn. It is a tenuous thing to take up our liberty to oppose his plan.
talks about a people who reject the knowledge of God and God turns them over to their own ways.
Domino effect
Ripple effect
Proverbs 21:30 NIV
There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.
Acts 9:5 NIV
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.
Illustration: I have a friend who now struggles with Christianity because 10 years ago they disagreed with how God worked in their life. Rather than surrender to God during a confusing season they stood their ground and did not justify God.
The wisdom of God is demonstrated in the cross. That is how different God’s methods are from our own.
1 Corinthians 1:18–19 NIV
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
Application:
Stop fighting with God and rejecting the purposes of God in your life. Surrender to him.

Point #3 - God does a lot to reach people (vs. 31 - 35)

Case in Point:
John came eating no bread and drinking no wine vs. 33
Jesus came eating and drinking and being a friend of sinners. vs. 34
vs. 30 “the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves”
The people were unresponsive. Look at the analogy of vs. 31 - 32
It was God’s plan to send John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord. But once the Pharisees and Lawyers rejected step one in God’s plan it caused them to reject step two.
Application:
Don’t put God in a box and limit how he can speak to you or use you
We can be comforted when we feel perplexed and anxious for the condition of those who are lost.
We each are an expression of the means God uses to accomplish his work in the world.
Don’t get locked into one method for being a fruitful Christian
Don’t discount your own ability to be used because you are different from others
1 Corinthians 12:6 NLT
God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

Conclusion:

Share the gospel: Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He died a death I could not die so that I could live a life I could not live.
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