Summary: This message is a challenge to reclaim those areas of our lives that we may have given up for dead. Idea taken from a message by Pastor Jessie Bottoms.
“Jesus and Funerals”
Pastor V. P. Oliver
Luke 7:14, 15 (11 – 17)
“And He came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And He said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And He that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And He delivered him to his mother.”
Luke, the writer of our text presents two subjects for our consideration. He informs us that, as He entered into the town of Nain, Jesus came upon a funeral in progress. Jesus, the Giver and Sustainer of life, encountered a funeral - the final occasion that marks the end of ones life. Luke presents this clash of total opposites, Jesus and a funeral, as the backdrop for another opportunity for a supernatural demonstration of Jesus’ deity. The combination of Jesus and funerals will always result in unexpected and life-altering changes.
Luke says the woman in the story was attending the funeral of her only son and that she was a widow. Life is filled with its share of disappointments and heartbreaks. May I suggest to you today that Jesus has a way of reversing conditions as well as attitudes when He encounters some of our own personal funerals.
1. JESUS RESTORES HOPE.
First of all, JESUS RESTORES HOPE. Luke tell us in this text, that Jesus, His disciples and many people entered the gates of the city of Nain. They met this woman in the midst of a funeral procession and many people were with her. They were on their way to the graveyard, carrying her only son.
Here, we see two groups of people standing in complete juxtaposition to each other; two groups on the same street going in two different directions; two groups, one is playing a funeral dirge; the other celebrating the fact that the Rose of Sharon is in their midst. This encounter was ripe for a miracle.
The woman in the text had lost all hope; there was nothing else in her life to rejoice about. Her husband was dead; her only son had just died, and she was on her way to the graveyard to deposit his remains into a cold and unforgiving grave.
But on her way to the graveyard, she ran into Jesus. On her way to lie to rest the remains of her only child, she ran into Jesus. She was on her way to bury the last of the family bloodline; as she was about to bury all that she had left in the world, she ran into Jesus. The Bible says, “And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.” With two little words Jesus restored her hope.
Notice that this is one of those miracles performed by Jesus when the recipient of the miracle does not actively seek it. God’s grace is at its best when human initiative is not a factor. The woman in the text had resigned herself to her pitiful predicament. She had long since buried her parents and now she had accepted the fact that walking through graveyards would be her lot. Life for her had lost its meaning and hope was all but gone.
Nowhere in the text does it say that she sent for Jesus. Her friends had not introduced her to Jesus. But in the midst of this hopeless and hurting situation, she ran into Jesus.
Someone here today who is going through a painful and hopeless situation, needs to hear me when I say that Jesus is on your street. I know you came to hear the choir sing, or to serve at the door, or simply to enjoy the fellowship, but the real reason that you are here today is so you could run into Jesus. He’s here right now; He’s in the vicinity of your pain; He’s in the vicinity of your problem; He’s in the vicinity of your predicament, your brokenness, your failure, your crisis…
Somebody here is in the middle of a dead situation, and like the widow of our text, you’re in the middle of a funeral, you are on your way to the Graveyard. No, not ( the name of your local cemetery) or ( another local cemetery), but the Graveyard of despair; a graveyard called divorce; the graveyard of “I just don’t care anymore.” But I come to tell you that your despair does not line up with your destiny. Your sorrow and hopelessness is no match for His sovereign help.
I wonder, which way are you headed today? Are you headed to the cemetery? Maybe I need to tell you that what you’re carrying to the graveyard to be buried is not dead like you think. It might look dead, someone may have even pronounced it dead, but whatever it is that seems to have no more life is not beyond the reach of the One Who specializes in breaking up funerals. Be careful before you start giving up on things that appear to be dead. Jesus wants to restore your hope.