March 23rd, 2020 – Luke 7:11-17

“Yes, brother Elephant, I see your massive foot, and I’m glad you’re in the room today and that you’ve drawn attention to yourself.  Let’s talk about you for a minute.”

Without a lot of agony, I’ve decided – for today, anyway – to use this space almost exclusively for a discussion of God’s timeless Truth, the Biblical text itself.  Which is to say, I’ll not attempt to keep the reader up-to-the-minute on the latest Pandemic! headline. Maybe we’ll discuss it a little as we APPLY the text.  We’ll see.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  As our church has been reading through what we call “Jesus in 20/20”, I have had the luxury of planning my preaching texts as much as 2 months in advance.  To make a long story short, I had planned to preach on a different text next Sunday (March 29th), but I felt a strong leading from the Lord to choose our text for today, instead. And, to be honest, I lost my original list and had to re-create it. So….it was maybe a month ago that I definitely “heard” the Lord “say” to me (not audibly!) that I should preach from this text, Luke 7:11-17.

This story should be much more well-known because this is a great story. I think one reason why it’s not more popular is because the name isn’t very catchy: “The Raising of the Son of the Widow of Nain.”  Three ofs in one title might be too many.  But, the title of this amazing, true account from the life of Jesus is not what is important here.

I am looking forward to really digging into this text in preparation for our worship service on Sunday, March 29th. And, whether we meet physically or online, I realize we have to put at least a song or two in the mix for next week. I don’t want to give you my whole message right now, as it’s not fully-developed yet.

I will tell you that the first thing that I wanted to do after my first reading of the text, was to run back to Luke 1:68, and 78.  The context of those words is a prophetic utterance about how God has “visited” the earth in the coming of His Anointed One, His Messiah, born of a virgin in a stable in Bethlehem in Judea. (Talk about too many prepositions in a sentence, go back and read that one again.)

In Luke 7:16, after Jesus has literally raised the dead, it says, “Fear gripped all the people, and they began glorifying God, saying,  ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and ‘God has visited His people!’

The old word “visited” can mean to visit, to have compassion for, and to care for.  Often, as in our text today, it has shades of all three.  Jesus did come as the long-awaited Messiah, and in his earthly ministry he showed extraordinary compassion, and he acted on his compassion by relieving human suffering, often in astonishing, supernatural, miraculous ways. Our text, in verse 13, says, “When the Lord saw her, (the widow whose son was dead) he felt compassion.”

Apply, very quickly:

  • The Lord is very aware of the pain we are going through. HE SEES YOU. He has compassion for you. He offers resurrection to you, if you want it.
  • God VISITED us when Christ was in his earthly ministry. He visits us still through the abiding presence of His Spirit, a gift given to those who believe and follow Christ. God is working in His people through the Spirit of Christ (as Paul calls Him in Romans 8:9) to do good works for which God prepared us in advance.
  • We as Christ-followers are called to go and bring light to darkness, life to death, hope to those in despair and loneliness.  That’s our part in the story.  We are the great procession going into town, while the world is mourning on its way to grieve.  Because we are with Jesus’ party, we have something worthwhile to offer our friends. Someone, that is.  Jesus, of course.  And Jesus is still in the business of raising the dead.