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Comfort In Grief | Luke 7:11-17

Comfort In Grief

Luke 7:11-17

Sudden loss inflicts unique pain and influences the spiritual life of those left behind. When your loved one is infected with the virus and when the phone rings people tend to panic and be anxious. And if the result is death, it inflicts pain and leads to the darkness of grief without warning. As of this week, India has lost around 3.11 Lakhs due to the Corona Virus. That has brought grief to so many families.

Comfort In Grief | Luke 7:11-17

We are introduced to this source of comfort in Luke 7:11-17. The account begins with Jesus meeting a woman who has experienced a terrible tragedy. Today are going to look at some biblical truths from the passage of Jesus raising the widow’s son at Nain, the fragility of life, the compassion of Jesus, and the power of Jesus over life and death.

Luke 7:11-17

Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son

11Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12As 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. 13When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” 14Then 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!”

15The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

Let’s look at this narrative

Luke 7:11

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him.

Soon afterward; that means something happened before this. In Luke 7 Jesus is in Capernaum and a Centurion’s servant was unwell. The Centurion had sent a delegation of Jewish leaders to ask Jesus to come to his house to heal his dying servant. So these Jewish leaders implored Jesus to come and heal the Centurion’s servant because they said, “He is worthy, he has been a blessing for us and he has actually built a synagogue.”

John 7:6-10

6So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

The centurion recognized that Jesus had authority over sickness and over death and all Jesus had to do was to speak and sickness will go, death will go.”

Luke 7:9-10

9When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

There are only two places in the scripture that Jesus said that he was amazed. The other place where it says Jesus was amazed was that he marveled or was amazed at their lack of faith in Mark 6 (A prophet is without honor in his own town). Here Jesus was amazed at the Centurion’s faith.

Jesus Has Authority Over Pace, Distance, And Disease.

Race Makes No Difference To God. Here the Jews and the Romans are working together. Racial-religious distinctions are not part of the gospel when one responds to Jesus. This theme is developed in Acts.

Here, the Centurion believed in the authority of Jesus over sickness and death, and in the very next passage, Luke writes Jesus rising a dead man.

Luke 7:11

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him.

The day after this, Jesus was coming with many of his disciples and a large crowd to a little village of Nain. Now, Nain is a day’s journey from Capernaum. The village of Nain is about 32 KM from the Sea of Galilee, from Tiberius. It is near Nazareth and Jesus was approaching this city with his disciples and a large crowd of people following him.

Luke 7:12

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.

When they were coming near the gate of this city, there was a large crowd coming out of the gate. So these two crowds met near the gate of the city of Nain.

There was no doubt in the crowd of Jesus, there was expectancy, excitement, joy, praise. They had seen the works of Jesus and were excited by being around him. They were excited about the things they had been witnessing and had begun to speculate about Jesus’ possibility of his perhaps being the Messiah, the prophet sent from God.

The other crowd, the crowd coming out of the gates of the city is very somber. They were carrying in an open casket a dead man. They were bringing him outside the city for burial. In this large crowd of the people that was coming out of the city of Nain there was a widow who was weeping for the dead man was her only son.

The contrast of the crowd

So we see the contrast of the crowds. One that is excited with life, the other was absorbed in the sorrow of death. What a clashing of emotions met with those crowds. One crowd filled with joy and laughter, the other crowd wailing over the sorrow of death.

In Jewish funeral the women would usually lead the procession, accompanied by great weeping and bands of professional mourners with their flutes and cymbals. Accompanying the body to its burial place was considered a “good work.” Now, the whole town seemed to have turned out to support this widow in her time of grief.

The body was carried upon a bier. There was no casket. The body would have been wrapped in a burial shroud, the face exposed. They were on their way to the burial grounds outside of town where all their dead were buried.

Life Sometimes Gives Us Bitter Pills To Swallow

This young man was already dead. We are not told how he died or what caused his death. It could have been an accident or it could have been a disease, but the sad truth is people of all ages die.

Today, with the Covid-19 pandemic, we see death all around us. Many people are suffering the horrors of death these days. There is grief all over. When our loved one stops breathing and the heart stops pumping, we say, “It is finished. He/she is gone. I have lost my loved one.”

What terrible blow is death to human beings? Husband and wife separated from each other, children separated from parents. What sorrow is brought by death?

David Said:

Psalm 139:13-16

13For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

15My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

How true is David? God created us and God has numbered a man’s days on earth. God has designated years and days in our life and when our time is over, we all have to say goodbye and leave this body and our loved ones. Oh! What sorrow this brings to the near and dear ones! Death is our greatest enemy.

God’s original design did not include death. Death is an intrusion in God’s original creative order. 

Romans 5:12  

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people because all sinned.

In the city gate of Nain were two crowds. In the crowd approaching the city of Nain, Jesus was the central figure. And Jesus is synonymous with life and light.

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

1 John 5:12 Whoever has the Son has life…

John 10:10 I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 1:4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

So the crowd with Jesus was full of expectation, anticipation, and celebration. The central figure was Jesus and the life he can bring to us.

The central figure in the other crowd was the dead man that was being carried in the open coffin. The attention of that crowd was absorbed in death, mourning and wailing over death. In that crowing was a weeping mother. She is a widow. The dead man is her only son. This particular woman had already lost her husband and now her only son died. Not only was this poor widow mourning the death of her only son but she now is all alone in a society that did not have provisions for the care of widows. As they reach the cemetery the tears and sorrow of this widow is growing more as it was the same place where her dead husband lay.

Luke 7:13

When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

Jesus Is Moved By Human Suffering.

It is interesting to me that when the Lord came to this large crowd of people, coming out of the city that his interest was immediately drawn to one person in the crowd, the grieving mother. She was the one who captures his attention.

I think that Jesus is always interested in the most needy person in the crowd.

Whenever he came into a crowd of people, he was always singling out those people in the crowd who had needs, for they were the ones he had come to minister to. He said that they need a physician are the ones who are sick.

Jesus is moved by human suffering and pain. We so often picture the Lord in just the opposition light. We so often feel that because we are so needy, that the Lord is not interested in us. “I am so weak and I fail so much he is not interested in me.” Wrong.

He is interested today in whoever of you has the greatest needs. If you are going through suffering, loss, pain, the sting of death; Jesus is moved. This woman was the one in that crowd with the greatest need, a widow who has lost her only son. Probably her only means of support. She was weeping and Jesus singled her out. He was moved with compassion on her.

How many times we read this about Jesus where he came into a situation where he was moved with compassion for the people and for the needs of the people. A lot of times we may be moved with compassion concerning a person’s need. All we have is sympathy to offer. Jesus had life to offer.

Jesus is moved by our needs.

Hebrews 4:15

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses.”

Jesus was and continues to be moved by the hurts and sorrows of his people. Many believe that God will answer you only if you have faith. As much as our God responds to faith, God responds to human needs and sorrow. The centurion had faith, he approached Jesus. God healed his servant. This woman had no faith, she had not approached Jesus, she did not have a big status in the society but when Jesus saw the need of the woman he sympathized with her needs. Jesus is moved by your needs today.

Here she was sorrowing, grieving, weeping, sobbing, and wailing. And Jesus came over to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” It is countercultural.

Luke 7:14

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!”

Now this was something that was prohibited by the law. If anyone touched the dead or anything that was touching the dead would become unclean, Numbers 19:13. That is you would not be able to participate in the temple or synagogue worship, and before you could participate you would have to go through a cleansing process to become ceremonially clean.

So what Jesus did was no doubt an extremely shocking thing. Nobody will knowingly or willfully go over and touch a coffin. Now, these guys that are hired to carry it and the relatives, that is another thing and there is a process of cleansing for that. But others would not touch. They will not be able to go to the temple or the synagogue until they are cleansed, but someone out there has to carry a coffin out.

But for one outside of the family or the professional buriers to go ahead and touch the coffin was unheard of and there were so shocked. Everyone including the men carrying the coffin was so shocked when Jesus went ahead and touched it, they just stood still. Nobody does that. Jesus could touch a dead body and a leper in Matthew 8 and still be clean.

Then Jesus said to him, the man who is dead:

John 7:14 “Young man, I say to you, get up!”

This is rather strange isn’t it, Jesus is talking to a dead person. But Jesus can talk to the dead.

You know that in all three recorded cases where Jesus raised the dead, he talked to the dead person as though they were not dead, as though they were alive. In Luke 8, Jairus the synagogue leaders comes and falls at his feet to come and heal his dying daughter. Jesus gets to the house of Jairus and by now she is dead and people are wailing and mourning. Luke 8:54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” Jesus talked to her as though she is alive.

Remember Jesus reaching the tomb of Lazarus in John 11. Marth and Mary are upset that Jesus was late to come. Lazarus was dead and in the tomb for 4 days now. Jesus was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled and wept.

John 11:39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

John 11:44 43…Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”44The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Jesus spoke to Lazarus as though he is still alive.

So in this case this young boy is being carried in a coffin to his grave, Jesus speaks to him as though he were still alive. “Young man, I say to you arise.”

You see, the spirit of man is still alive after death. There has only come a mysterious separation from their body. The spirit does not die. You see the real me is body and spirit. The body is the instrument by which the spirit expresses itself. God has given to me my body, marvelously and wonderfully made. It is the medium by which my spirit can express itself. The body is a tent in which I live, the medium by which I can express myself.

One day through that mystery of death, my spirit will be released from this body. The moment my spirit is released from this body, my body functions will cease. My body will grow cold and stiff but my spirit will still be alive. Jesus being God can communicate with man beyond the grave. That is why Jesus spoke to the dead though they were still alive. The spirit which is subject to Jesus obeyed him and returned again into the body, so the body again came back to life.

Jesus Has Command Over The Dead.

There is only one person that can lead someone beyond our grave, that is Jesus. John 7:14 “Young man, I say to you, get up!” He God up and Jesus presented him to his mother.

Luke 11:15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

The relationship between the mother and son broken by death is restored by Jesus.

Now the response of the crowds to the miracle:

First Response: The Crowd Was Filled With Awe.

Luke 7:16 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.”

That is a reverential awe. I can imagine Everyone would have been amazed, “What is going on? Who is this? What is happening here?” A reverential fear came upon all.

Second Response: The Crowd Praised God.

Luke 7:16 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.”

The crowd praised God. Jesus said in the sermon on the mount: Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Let me talk to myself and my fellow brothers and sisters and ministers of God: There is a way where you can let your light so shine before men that when they see your good works they glorify you. That is the wrong way to let your light shine. When you use those gifts of God to show attention to yourself or to bring glory to yourself, you are misusing God’s gifts. You are using them in a way that God never intended them to be used.

God has intended that he should receive glory through his work.

Galatians 6:14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Jesus is warning us to be careful how we let our light shine. Jesus said, “Let them glorify God in heaven.” Jesus practiced what he preached. For he did this in such a way that when he presented this young man to his mother, everybody began to glorify God, they were not glorifying Jesus. They were glorifying God who had sent Jesus.

Our ministries and gifts must be exercised in such a way that when people see our good deeds they must glorify God and not the instruments that God works. That is the way we let our light shine.

Third Response: A Great Prophets Has Appeared Among Us.

Luke 17:16 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.”

This story has parallels in the accounts of Eliah, who raised the only son of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:17-24), and Elisha, who raised the Shunammite’s son (2 Kings 4:18-37). Luke had formerly referred to this account in Luke 4:25-26.

Now people are seeing the parallels of a great prophet like Elijah in Jesus.

When John the Baptist came down to do his ministry and they came down to enquire him concerning his ministry in John 1:21: Are you the prophet? He answered, “No”.

But here the people are beginning to recognize that a great prophet has risen among us. Notice they have not yet fully recognized him as the Messiah. They are only recognizing Jesus as a prophet here.

Fourth Response: God Has Visited His People.

Luke 17:16

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.”

This is an interesting phrase but they were not aware of the significance of all that that phrase meant. God had visited his people. That is exactly what had happened when Jesus came, God was visiting his people.

John 1:1-2

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

As they made that declaration, I am certain that they were not aware of what they were saying or the full significance of what they were saying. Now when John the Baptist was born, his father Zachariah a priest began to prophesy, and in the prophecy of Zachariah:

Luke 1:68

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel because he has come to his people and redeemed them.

This was at the birth of John the Baptist, Zechariah prophesied, “God had visited and redeemed his people.” In that same prophesy toward the end of it Zechariah said:

Luke 1:78-79

78because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 79to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

In Psalm 8 when David was talking about the heavens and the moon and the earth that God had created and the vastness of the universe, he questions:

Psalm 8:1-4

…what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

Look out to that vast universe, 10 billion light-years, billions of galaxies. When we consider the vastness of the universe, I wonder also, “Who am I that God is so mindful of me?”

God has come in Jesus because he is mindful of us and he cares for us. That is so awesome to think that God would be mindful of me. God would send Jesus and visit mankind to deliver us from sin and its consequences.

The rising sun has come to us from heaven and the people declared, “Surely a great prophet has risen among us and God has visited his people.”

They were talking about the rising of the dead being a visitation of God but what they were saying was far more significant, for in Jesus Christ God came and visited man, the Word made flesh and dwelt among us. It is possible for a man to live after death because of Jesus.

Luke 17:17

This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

Here they are in a little insignificant village between Nazareth and Galilee, but this remarkable miracle had been done and so the report of it spread all the way down quickly to Judea, to Jerusalem and surrounding area of Jerusalem and then also it spread through the immediate surrounding areas, that is the area of Galilee, the upper Galilee region, word spread fast of what had happened.

Conclusion

This is the first recorded case of Jesus raising the dead. In Luke 8 we have Jairus’ daughter being raised from dead. Luke is the only one who records the widow’s son raising of the dead. John is the only one who records the raising of Lazarus from the dead. How many dead Jesus did raise while he was here, we don’t know. John at the end of his gospel says

John 21:25

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

There are many miracles that are not written. So this is the first of the three recorded instances, where Jesus shows his authority in the spirit world which gives to him authority over death. He addresses the spirit and commands them to return to the body from which they had departed, He talks to them and they obey his command. He is the Lord of life, he is the Lord of death.

Take Away Points

Jesus Has Authority Over Pace, Distance And Disease.

Life Sometimes Gives Us Bitter Pills To Swallow.

Jesus Is Moved By Human Suffering.

Jesus Has Command Over The Dead.

God Has Visited His People Through Jesus.

God Has Intended That He Should Receive Glory Through His Work.

Jesus Is Your Comfort in Grief.

Jesus Will Ultimately Swallow Death Forever.

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