Summary: What happened when Death crossed Jesus path.
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 16
“Even Death is Not a Barrier”
Luke 7: 11-17
“Joseph Bayly knew what the loss of a child was like. In fact, he and his wife Mary Lou lost three sons – one at eighteen days, after surgery; another at five years, with leukemia: the third at eighteen years, after a sledding accident. So when Joe Bayly wrote about the death of a child people listened. Here is a part of what he had to say:
Of all the deaths, that of a child is most unnatural and hardest to bear. In Carl Jung’s words, ‘it is the period placed before the end of the sentence,’ sometimes when the sentence has hardly begun. We expect the old to die. The separation is always difficult, but it comes as no surprise. But (what of) the child, the youth? Life lies ahead, with it’s beauty, its wonder, its potential. Death is a cruel thief when it strikes down the young. The suffering that usually precedes death is another reason childhood death is so hard for parents to bear. Children were made for fun and laughter, for sunshine, not pain….. In a way that is different from any other relationship, a child is bone of his parent’s bone, flesh of their flesh. When a child die, part of the parents is buried….I met a man who was in his seventies. During our first ten minutes together, he brought the faded photograph of a child out of his wallet – his child, who had died almost fifty years before.” [As quoted by R. Kent Hughes p.261]
Shortly after Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant we find Jesus traveling toward the city of Nain accompanied by a large crowd. The name Nain means “pleasant” or “delightful.” On this particular day it undoubtedly was still a very pleasant place, but its beauty was overshadowed by something dark, gloomy and fearful – it was death.
As Jesus led his disciples and all those who were following them into the city of Nain they met a very different crowd. The crowd with Jesus was undoubtedly joyful, jubilant and expectant. Everything was upbeat. But the crowd heading out of town in the opposite direction had a very different frame of mind. The perspective of the other crowd was gloomy and dark. They were mourning the death of a widow’s only son. There is no joy, no hope, no expectancy. Jesus was headed for the city, while the mourners were headed for the cemetery. But in His wisdom He orchestrated “a meeting at the gate.”
SOMETIMES LIFE JUST SEEMS TO CAVE IN ON US. (vv. 11-12)
“Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. (12) And when He 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 young man was already dead. This was actually the funeral procession taking him to his burial place. Death had already exercised its power of him. We are not told how he died or what caused his death. It could have been an accident or it could have been disease, but the sad truth is people of all ages die everyday. This is the place at which our hopes also die. When our loved one stops breathing and the heart stops pumping, we say, “That’s it is finished!”
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. A widow in those days was in a totally vulnerable position if there were no male relatives to protect and provide for her. This particular woman had already lost her husband and now her only son. This widow knows nothing of Jesus, her world is limited to a darkened sphere of grief. She doesn’t approach Jesus with a eloquent plea, she is too torn to even pray.
Jesus has just come from healing the centurion’s servant, but the situation here is far different. “In one scene, there is confident, clear thinking soldier; in the other, a vulnerable widow, drowning in her own turbulent emotions. In one, there is unquestioning faith – “Just say the word and my servant will be healed” (v. 7;) in the other, grief as if there is not tomorrow. In one, there is eloquence and protocol; in the other, unbridled pain and enough tears to dissolve the strongest prayers.
These differences illustrate that our Savior doesn’t demand that we fit into a set pattern to receive his help. He doesn’t restrain His compassion because we fail to meet “our good deed quota.” Of because we don’t say the right words. Or because we forget to follow the correct ritual.”