Summary: A look at our expectations as we continue moving through Lent. Bringing the dead young man in Nain.
March 23, 2014
We can’t get away from expectations! They follow us wherever we go! Whatever we do, we’re surrounded by them. We have expectations from our parents, our spouses, our children, siblings, from friends, teachers and employers . . . and even from ourselves. Sometimes those expectations are great, and lofty and we seek to accomplish them ... and we do. At other times, the expectations are so low, we have no trouble meeting them. We also have expectations that are beyond what someone can accomplish, those unrealistic expectations, which set us up for defeat.
Expectations go with us in life. Even in restaurants we have them, don’t we? You see a commercial and the food looks amazing, and when you get it, it’s not quite the same.
Well, we have expectations for God as well as for people in our lives. And those expectations very from low to grandiose expectations. Sometimes our expectations are realistic and at other times they aren’t.
In this Lenten series, we’re looking at passages which involve tears and crying; and looking at the message of Jesus in the midst of them. With that in mind, our focus this morning is on a passage which only Luke recounts for us. It’s found in the third book of the New Testament in the gospel of Luke 7:11-17. As we lead up to this story, Jesus has just healed a Roman centurion’s servant. Jesus had marveled at the centurion’s faith and now we enter into this next story in Luke 7 ~
11 Soon afterward Jesus went to a town called Nain, and His disciples and a great crowd went with Him.
12 As He drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her.
13 And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
14 Then He came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”
15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited His people!”
17 And this report about Him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
This is a great story! Isn’t it? It’s one of those stories that moves our hearts. It’s a story which makes Jesus real for us. Can you imagine the headlines the next day in the Palestine Post? Wouldn’t this be a great headline?!
Sometimes we have that great thought, and we lift up our expectations and dream about what could be, so we imagine some great scene from a movie like the Titanic. Remember when Jack and Rose stood in the wind on the ship. Oh, it looked so romantic, but try and replicate that and you know what might happen? This is what happens!
Or maybe it’s just a nice nap with the dog. But we end up looking like this. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. And that leads to thoughts about Jesus.
In the midst of the story, maybe we wonder a little about our expectations of Jesus. Have we had expectations for Christ that frankly, He didn’t meet? We expected Jesus to heal a loved one, to bring a loved one home, to redeem them, to keep them in a marriage, you fill in the blank - and somehow Jesus didn’t meet our expectations.
There are those times when we wonder and question why Jesus doesn’t meet our expectations. Why did he take the path which led to death, instead of the path which led to the ultimate unveiling of His power, while He was alive? Why didn’t Jesus fix the world by doing more miracles like the one in Luke 7? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if Jesus never died and always performed miracles. Episcopalean Priest Robert Capon wrote, Jesus came to save the world by “a deeper, darker, left-handed mystery, at the center of which lay His own death.”
The 19th century theologian Robert Lewis Dabney was away on ministry when he learned that one of his sons was very ill. Dabney traveled all night to reach his son as quickly as possible. Dabney wrote about his experience to his brother in a letter. This is an excerpt about what happened to his son ~
We used prompt measures, and sent early for the doctor, who did not think his case was dangerous; but he grew gradually worse until Sunday, when his symptoms became alarming, and he passed away, after great sufferings, Monday. . . . A half hour before he died, he sank into a sleep, which became more and more quiet, until he gently sighed his soul away. This is the first death we have had in our family, and my first experience of any great sorrow. I have learned rapidly in the school of anguish this week, and am many years older than I was a few days ago.