Jesus Deals With Death!

Luke 7:11-18; John 1:4

The long shadows of the late afternoon sun reached across the little mountain town of Nain.
The village lies in a green nest among surrounding hills.
Below is the extensive plane of Meggido, a battlefield from the days of Nebuchadnezzar to Napoleon.
As you climb the steep path leading to the town gate you understand why the town was called lovely or pleasant.
Here you can see one of the most beautiful views in Palestine.

Away in the distance is the wide range of Carmel, with the blue gleam of the Mediterranean at its foot.
Far up in the North is the snowy top of the great Hermon, a towering sentinel dominating the landscape.
Cattle are grazing on the hillside, farmers are returning home from the field, children are playing near the gate.
This is a restful, pastoral scene.

But our beautiful scene is broken by the sound of sobbing.
A funeral procession is moving through the gate toward the cemetery outside the walls.
This is not a superficial sorrow.

On the open coffin is the body of a dead boy.
He is the only son of his widowed mother, who follows in heartbroken desolation.
Her son has kept his appointment with death, and there is no loveliness in nature and no beauty in life
for her lonely and broken heart.

The funeral procession meets another procession.
This procession is that of Jesus of Nazareth.
He is leading a company of His followers into the town.

They are almost at the end of their 25 mile journey from Capernaum, and Jesus is weary.
But with respectful sympathy, Jesus and His companions step to the side to let the mother passed by
with her dead son.

She had not noticed this Man whose pity went out to her, but His eyes read the meaning of her loss.
"And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, 'Weep not."
(Luke 7:13)

The words were simple, as all consolation ought to be, and filled with infinite pity.
That is the consolation that Jesus Christ gives – short, deeply felt, inward, heard in the stillness of the heart.
Then He went forward and touched the coffin.
Those carrying the coffin stopped, and Jesus said, "Young man, I say to you arise."

And the powerful of Jesus touched the heart and brain of the young man:
"And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak.
And he delivered him to his mother
." (Luke 715)

Isn't that just like Jesus?
And there is a deeper question: isn't that like God?
He is the God whom Jesus unveils, and who is the God that Jesus brings near.

The bereaved mother went out to keep her appointment with death,
and found that it was an appointment with life.
I believe that Luke, wanted us to see that.

He didn't tell us so that clever men might speculate about the physical aspects of it
– whether the young man was really dead or only apparently so.
Something more profound than a scientific problem confronts us here.

This boy was dead – and now he is alive.
The ordinary people who witnessed the restoration of the widow's son perceived it.
All were seized with amazement and glorified God.
We see this in Luke 7:16: "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said;
"God has sent a marvelous messenger, God has visited his people!"
Their amazement was inevitable, and their words were true.

When death is defeated so dramatically this super-normal, the supra-natural must be invoked
to account for it.
Luke writes, "And when the Lord saw her."
"The Lord," is a significant term, for in this encounter with human tragedy the Man of Nazareth
appears clothed with that exalted power over life and death by which He becomes the object
of His church's faith and worship.

In this central message of the Christian faith, we have the heart of the matter.
"… God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself." (2 Corinthians 5:19)

God was there!
God was really there!
Do you realize the importance of that fact that God was there?

"… when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her…" and gave her back her son.
Keep on holding this truth.
Otherwise, you will easily separate God from Jesus Christ in a way that is fatal.
The New Testament says, as brave men and women to the Christian centuries had said,
that God is like Christ.

He is almighty.
His almightiness is of love.
He suffers with those who go wrong.
He sorrows with those who mourn.
He longs to lead people out of cruelty into decency.
He wants to lead people out of greed into unselfishness.
He wants to lead people out of death into life.

Three facts of life stand out in that picture of the scene outside the mountain town.

First, we can believe that even as the compassion of the Lord Jesus Christ went out
to that sorrowing mother, so the pity of God also falls upon the griefs of men and women today.
The pity of God brings healing.

In all our affliction He is afflicted, and by His wounds, we are healed.
We do not need to beseech Him to have pity, for He is love, outgoing love,
the compassion of the loving and compassionate Father comes to us in our ignorance and folly.

The widowed mother did not offer Him a prayer of faith to receive the Lord's compassion.
"When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her."
And that holds true for us today as God looks out upon us.

Some might say that sympathy is a poor comfort.
It does not restore life, and it does not defeat death.
But does that mean so little?

To know that there is One beside us who understands, whose shares are burden,
whose will is that we might be brave and true and kind even in the midst of a hell of our own
or the contriving of others – doesn't that mean something?
God is infinite, eternal, and His intention for us and our world cannot be ultimately defeated.

In the contradictions of life, in the willful wrongdoing of selfish men, He is pierced from the heart,
and His compassion flows out in healing streams of mercy to those who struggle through the darkness to Him.

Second, a further factor faith to undergird our spirits is underlined in Luke's story of the widows son
who found life in the presence of the Lord.
That fact is the will of God for us to have the fullness of life.

"I am come," said Jesus, "that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
(John 10:10)
"God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." (Matthew 22:32)
God's will -- God's purpose is for the extension and enrichment of human life upon the earth.
He who has created life also sustains it.

There may be those who would cry out in their heart, "If this is true, why did he not raise my child back to life,
and all the other boys and girls who died too early."
There were many other widowed mothers as brokenhearted as the widow of Nain.
Jesus had compassion on them, but He did not bring back their sons.

Why He did it here and not to others,we do not know, but we can reverently conjecture the reason
for the time when He did not.
Of one thing we may be sure, that His will is for life, and that at the end, He will deliver those children
to their mothers.

Those who are "in Christ," those who confide in Him and trust His power, will experience God's gift
of eternal life and His gracious love and mercy than just a mere prolonging of earthly existence.

Third, the final thrilling truth presented in this story is that the action of God is the action of love,
and love restores the beloved to its own.

So powerful is the love of God that despite all frustrations and obstacles nothing precious can be forever lost.
Christ came to search out and find the lost.
God is the unwearied Pursuer of the soul.
He is the Hound of Heaven.

To yield to Him is to find life.
To trust Him brings liberty to the soul.
To follow Him is victory over the worst that can happen.

Then why does God not come swiftly to our side and in some sudden stroke deliver us from our peril?
God will not bludgeon His way into our hearts.
He will not coerce our loyalty.

I love the story of a visitor to the Welsh mountain district who saw the rescue of a sheep
that had fallen over a cliff and was stuck on a shelf of rock.
The shepherd was lowered by rope at the risk of his life, to bring back the sheep.

Yet, the shepherd had known for three days where it was!
The visitor could not reconcile the shepherd's courage in rescuing the sheep
with the apparent callousness that he had shown in leaving it in danger for so long.

But it was explained to the visitor that if the rescue had been attempted earlier,
the sheep would have been alarmed, and would probably have leaped to its death.
The shepherd had to wait until it was helpless, and too weak to move before he could attempt to rescue it.

God does not always deliver us from immediate danger, but He does deliver us from its evil.
And in the end, in His good time, all good shall prevail.

Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose

For there is Christ, with His pity, with his will for our abundant life, and with His gift of life to those
who are in the midst of death.

Then Jesus Came!

"One sat alone beside the highway begging
His eyes were blind the light he could not see.
He clutched his rags, and shivered in the shadows.
Then Jesus came and bade His darkness flee.

Unclean, Unclean the leper cried in torment,
The deaf, the dumb in helplessness stood near;
The fever raged, disease had gripped its victim
Then Jesus came and cast out every fear.

When Jesus comes the tempters power is broken.
When Jesus comes the tears are washed away.
He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory
For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay.

And so today we find the Savior able
We can not conquer passion, lust, or sin.
Our broken hearts have left us sad and lonely,
But Jesus comes to dwell Himself within.

When Jesus comes the tempters power is broken.
When Jesus comes the tears are washed away.
He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory
For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay."

Sermon was adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White