Certainty In Uncertain Times: Luke 7:11-17 – Hope for a Hurting World

Grace For The Journey

We have been making our way, verse-by-verse, through the Gospel of Luke, learning about the power and person of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This morning we read a miraculous account of Jesus’ raising a dead person to life.  There are only three accounts in the Gospels where we read of Jesus’ raising a dead person to life.  We read of His raising a little girl, the daughter of a man named Jairus.  We read of Lazarus, another person miraculously raised from the dead.  Then we read of this account here in chapter 7.  In fact, this miracle is recorded only here in the entire New Testament, just here in verses 11-17. Picture with me what is taking place here in these seven verses.  The passage describes the coming together of two crowds.  Verse 11 tells us one crowd and verse 12 tells of another.  In verse 11 Jesus is entering into a city called Nain and along with Him are many of His disciples “and a large crowd.”  These are people who had heard Jesus teaching that wonderful sermon on the plain in chapter 6 and people who had witnessed Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s servant.  They are impressed with Jesus and so they are following Him to this city called Nain.  That is one crowd.

Then verse 12 tells us of another crowd.  It tells us that when Jesus came near the gate of the city, the one crowd meets another crowd.  Verse 12 tells us that “when Jesus came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow.  And a large crowd from the city was with her.”  This is a crowd of people heading out of the city and going to a cemetery to bury a loved one who had died.

We are reading of the converging of these two crowds:

One crowd is moving out of the city –

A crowd of people mourning

For one who had died;

The other crowd is moving into the city –

A crowd of people following

One who brings life.

Death and life converge at the city gate of Nain.  Death meets life.  Sorrow meets joy.  Hopelessness meets Hope.

We will draw forth some truths from this passage that tells of an event that occurred in real space and time 2,000 years ago in a town about 20 miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee.  The first truth is not a popular truth and is often avoided by those who wish to stress only the positive truths in Scripture.  But we cannot appreciate the positive truths without appreciating the negative truths. 

The first truth is . . .

I.  We Live In An Imperfect World: Verses 11-12.

Verses 11 and 12 remind us that we live in a world of hurt.  We live in an imperfect world.  Things are not as they were meant to be.  God created the world perfectly.  After the six days of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 we are told that God called everything “good.”  But Genesis 3 tells us that man sinned and brought death and sin into the world.  We refer to this as the Fall.  Fomans 5:12 tells us Adam fell by bringing sin into the world, “… Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

This is the reality of our situation.  We live in a fallen world, an imperfect world, a hurting world.  We all inherit the sin of Adam.  As Adam was the representative of the human race, we can say that when he sinned, we sinned right along with him. This is why we are born sinners and why we face all the effects of the fall, including death.  Death will come to each and every one of us.

We are like the second crowd moving out of the city.  We all are on an inexorable march toward death.  We are in a procession towards death.  Unless Christ returns first, every single one of us will die.  It is often said that “the old must die; the young may die.”

Death can come at any age.  We often think of it as coming only to those who are elderly and infirm, but death can come to a young person.  That is the case here in the text.  We learn later that this one who has died is a “young man.”  And if we are wise we will pause long enough to consider whether we are prepared for that moment when we will leave this world, whether we are ninety or nineteen.  Young person, have you been saved?  Little boy, little girl, young man, young lady, have you surrendered your soul to the Lord Jesus Christ?  The only way to avoid the penalty of our sin and an eternity of hell is to surrender to Christ.  Death can come at any age.

We live in an imperfect world, a world of hurt.  Verse 12 tells us that this young man being carried out in an open coffin is “the only son of his mother; and she was a widow.”  There is so much hurt there in those phrases.  She had been through similar suffering before when her husband died and now she is suffering again with the loss of her only son.  I am not sure any of us can fully understand what it would have been like in Jesus’ day to be left without a provider and a protector.  She has no one.

We imagine her getting up that morning to prepare for her son’s funeral.  Many of you have done similarly.  A loved one dies and you grieve as you have never grieved before.  You cry as you have never cried before.  And this crowd is mourning and crying.  We can only imagine the looks and the sounds of this crowd proceeding out of the city to the cemetery.  But here the crowd of hopelessness converges with the crowd of hope. 

We live in an imperfect world . . . number 2 . . .

II.  We Serve A Perfect Lord: Verses 13-17.

That which is imperfect meets that which is perfect.  The two crowds come together.   Hopelessness intersects Hope.  The Bible says in verse 13, “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’”  In the midst of great sorrow Jesus has a word of hope.

There are two realities about Jesus Christ that bring hope for a hurting world.  Let’s consider them together.  First . . .

A) Consider Christ’s Sympathy Toward Us – Verse 13.

Verse 13 states, “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”  Nobody said anything to Jesus.  He just “saw her,” He saw the woman and reached out to her.  Why?  Because He cares for us.  He sympathizes with us.  He loves us.  He knows what we are going through.

The Bible says Hebrews 4:15, “We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses…”  He sympathizes with us.  He loves us.  He cares for us.  The Bible also says in Lamentations 3:22-23, “His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning.”  He is a compassionate Savior.

I am so encouraged that Luke tells us “the Lord saw her.”  Jesus Christ sees you.  He sees what you are going through.  He knows when you cry and no one else knows.  He knows your deepest hurts.  He loves you.   He is going to care for you.  His heart goes out to you this morning.

Hebrews 13:8 tells us that “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  He is the same Lord today as He was in the city of Nain 2,000 years ago.  He loves you and His heart goes out to you today.  I don’t know what many of you are facing, but our Lord knows.  He sees you and He says, “Do not weep.”

Jesus Christ is hope for a hurting world. 

  • He may not raise your loved one from their sickbed or bring to life a dead child from a funeral procession.  There were countless hundreds and thousands who had died during the ministry of Christ, and He only raised three of them from the dead. 
  • He may not raise your loved one from sickness or death, but He promises to be with you and His heart goes out to you in the depth of your sorrow. 

But our Lord loves you.  He cares for you.  His heart goes out to you.  This is why He has given us so many precious promises.  He says in . . .

Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always.”

John 14:1-3, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Luke 6:20-23, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled.  Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!  For indeed your reward is great in heaven.”

Jesus Christ is hope for a hurting world.

It was Christ’s hope that kept those 33 Chilean miners alive for more than two months in the darkness of a coal mine.  So many of them are changed men because of that experience.  Miner Mario Sepulveda said, “We 33 miners are walking hand in hand with God.”  I read where early on the men said they had set aside time each day to pray.  And when people began to gather there at the mine, Christians ministered to many of the families sending small Bibles and magnifying glasses down to the miners.  They also sent down an audio version of “The Jesus Film” on 33 MP3 players.  Local ministers said that two of the miners surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.  While still struggling to overcome the ordeal, the youngest miner of the 33 miners, 19-year-old Jimmy Sanchez wrote in a letter from the mine, “There are actually 34 of us, because God has never left us down here.”  Several of the rescued miners were wearing T-shirts given to them by Campus Crusade for Christ.  The shirts read on the front, “Thank You, Lord!”  On the back is a reference to Psalm 95:4, which says, “In His hand are the deep places of the earth.”

Jesus Christ is hope for a hurting world.  Consider Christ’s sympathy toward us.

Secondly . . .

B) Consider Christ’s Authority Over Us – Verses 14-17.

The larger theme in this historic incident is Christ’s authority over everything, including death and the grave.  Because He is God, Jesus Christ holds the keys of death in His hand. 

He has authority over death and if

He has authority over death,

He has authority over life.  And

If He has authority over life,

He has authority over every living thing.

Verse 14 teaches us that Christ speaks to the dead and the dead listen.  Verse 15 declares, “So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.”  The young man sat up and began to speak, offering proof that he was, indeed, alive.  Then Jesus presents the young man to his mother.  Little wonder verse 16 says, “Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen up among us;’ and, ‘God has visited His people.’”

A great prophet has risen up among the people, yet a person who is more than a prophet.  God had indeed visited His people in the person of Jesus Christ, second person of the Holy Trinity, fully God and fully man.

It is remarkable that Jesus speaks to the dead and the dead listen.  This is a demonstration of the truth that while the body physically dies, the spirit lives on.  Jesus talks to the living spirit of the young man.  He speaks to the young man’s soul.  When we die our soul will live on in one of two locations, either in heaven or in hell.  The body dies, but the soul lives on.

Jesus has authority over death, hell, and the grave.  He is all-powerful.  Something is very different about this healing compared to the healing we studied about last Monday.  In this healing there is no mention whatsoever of anyone’s faith which shows, that Jesus’ healings ultimately were not dependent on the faith of the person being healed but on His own power and might.

I stressed in Monday’s study that when we talk about great faith it is not defined by the size of our faith, but the size of the One in Whom our faith rests.  Great faith is not, “This will happen if I really, really, really, believe.”  Great faith is not determined by the size of our faith, but by the enormity and power of the One in Whom our faith rests, Jesus Christ.  That truth is illustrated here in that we read nothing about anyone’s faith.  Without being asked and in His own power and might Jesus approaches the open coffin, speaks the word, and the dead is raised.

I am reminded of the verse in the hymn, “In The Garden,” He speaks and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing.”  At the sound of the all-powerful, all-authoritative voice of God, the young man’s lungs fill with oxygen.  His heart begins to beat, his arteries and veins fill with blood.  There is activity in the brain.  His eyes open.  His body raises up and his mouth speaks.  He’s alive!  He’s alive!  Somebody tell those grave diggers they are not needed anymore.  He’s alive!  Somebody tell those flute players to stop playing that depressing music.  He’s alive!

And this young man is alive because He who raised him from the dead would one day Himself be raised for the dead.  He who is perfect has come to rescue those in an imperfect world.  That is what Paul is talking about in Ephesians 2 when he writes that we are all dead, spiritually dead, in trespasses and sins.  There is no way out of our predicament, except through God.

Ephesians 2:4-6 declares, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

In the words of Charles Wesley, in “O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing:”

He speaks, and, listening to His voice,

New life the dead receive,

The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,

The humble poor believe.

This is hope for a hurting world.  This is the great missional hope we carry to our community and to the continents.  This is what we proclaim – This is the hope of the Gospel that we proclaim to Jerusalem, Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth:

We have heard the joyful sound: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Spread the tidings all around: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Bear the news to every land, climb the mountains, cross the waves;

Onward! ’tis our Lord’s command; Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

This is why we share the Gospel with our loved ones.  This is why we must tell the Good News to our family.  So that if God should call one of our loved ones home early through the tragedy of  death we can say, “My son knew Jesus Christ and he is now with our Lord in heaven.”  He lives.

And if Christ returns before we die, we had better be ready.  One day our Lord is going to come again and when He comes, He comes with the words, “I say to you, arise.”  As the Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

We are all in a procession of death.  We are all in a crowd of spiritual death, marching inexorably toward an eternal cemetery of hell.  We all stand in need of someone to come interrupt the procession.  Jesus Christ came to interrupt our march toward death.  Have you been saved?  Have you surrendered your life to Jesus Christ?  If so, you know something of our Lord’s sympathy and our Lord’s authority.  One day you will join all of God’s faithful, all Christians, and enter into that beautiful place called heaven, a place where, according to Revelation 21:4, “God will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.”

Jesus Christ is hope for a hurting world.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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