Luke 7:11-17 (GW)
…, Jesus went to a city called Nain. His disciples and a large crowd went with Him. As He came near the entrance to the city, He met a funeral procession. The dead man was a widow’s only child. A large crowd from the city was with her.
When the Lord saw her, He felt sorry for her. He said to her, “Do not cry.”
He went up to the open coffin, took hold of it, and the men who were carrying it stopped. He said, “Young man, I am telling you to come back to life!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
Everyone was struck with fear and praised God. They said, “A great prophet has appeared among us,” and “God has taken care of His people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding region.
Reverend Joel Holls –
Do you remember the science class demonstration when you learned about magnets? Remember how you cannot put magnets near each other when the positive end of one is next to the positive end of another, nor the negative ends next to each other, but the opposite ends would attract? Then also remember testing different materials to see which ones would be picked up by the magnet.
Then there was the demonstration where steel filings would be sprinkled on a piece of paper, looking like grains of sand scattered all over the paper. Then as the paper with the filings would be placed on top of a magnet, what happened? The steel filings moved to arrange themselves in a beautiful symmetrical pattern. Every particle on the paper moved into place. Out of the confusion of sprinkled filings the power of the magnet brought things into order.
The Gospel reading today deals with the subject – not about steel filings and magnets – but how Jesus Christ brings order into our lives. Think how scattered and jumbled life seems at times – like the steel filings on the piece of paper appeared.
When our lives are mixtures of joy and sorrow, love and hate, life and death, how can there be any plan or order to it? We look at life and wonder how we might be able to make sense out of it. We see all the brokenness around us and we wonder, is this all there is to life?
As we see in life all the brokenness, all the tragedy around us, many tend to make God the scapegoat for all the world’s misfortunes. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes often are called signs of God’s judgment. Illness, accidents and death are viewed as somehow being decided by God as if He is playing games with the human family.
While it is true that God works in all circumstances, it is not true that God wills and decides all of the individual experiences that make up our lives. God does not snuff out the life of an infant or small child. He does not create a tragedy that takes the life of a young person, nor does He decide who will become the victim of cancer leaving a family in anguish. He does not decide to inflict a person with chronic disabling conditions just to test that person’s faith. We do not have the right to blame God for the adversities that come our way. He did not cause death or suffering. He works with these things, that are a part of the human condition of sin, to work out forgiveness and goodness.
The Gospel lesson today is about a woman who lost her only son to death. Death had claimed a young man who we might feel had not had a chance to live a normal full span of life. It was particularly difficult for the mother who now, because of the death of both her husband and her only son, would become destitute. Women were dependent on their sons or relatives of their husbands for livelihood or they would become beggars. These deaths had dealt cruel blows.
But then notice how in the confusion and disorder of death, Jesus entered the situation. Jesus saw the funeral crowd of mourners. When the Lord saw her, He felt sorry for her. He said to her, “Do not cry.” Jesus was moved in compassion because of His care for all people. He went up to the open coffin, took hold of it, and the men who were carrying it stopped. He said, “Young man, I am telling you to come back to life!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
The point of this whole event is that God through Jesus came to someone in that moment of hopelessness and gave them peace. God had not forgotten her.
Notice, the woman had not asked for the miracle, Jesus was moved to action out of His love. Because Jesus understood the despair of the woman, He decided to act.
Because Jesus has suffered to be our Savior, because He has experienced pain and all the sinfulness of creation on the Cross, He knows how we feel, He knows what we need from Him. Jesus knows our pain and heartache because He has been there.
Because Jesus on the cross felt the full fury of sinfulness that is part and parcel of our lives, He can give us the measure of His grace and peace we need. Life is not a lonely journey that we struggle with alone. Jesus comes to recharge our spiritual lives just when we feel incapable of surviving on our own. We grasp God’s help in our lives most we are most hopeless and alone.
When we are in the depths of grief and despair, we desire a savior who will be with us. Many who want to help us, feel at a loss of words to say. We do not always need words or explanations. Being reminded that Jesus is with us is all we need. It has often been noticed that: when one is filled with grief the one who did not talk or ask questions, but simply sat there and listened to us, gave us more comfort than the one said all the right things. One is often comforted not because someone said caring words, but because they just sat and listened.
Jesus is always there for us to relieve us of the aches and fears. Let us rejoice in how much we have in Jesus’ name. Amen.