Summary: Some things we need to remember about sorrow.
The Widow of Nain
Woodlawn Baptist Church
November 5, 2006
Read Luke 7:11-17. There are many great and inspiring texts in the Scriptures – passages that take us to lofty heights and leave us there on the mountaintop for a while, allowing us to gaze on the majesty and glory of God, giving us a moment to draw in deep breaths of His freshness as we see His wonders. Jesus calms the raging sea; He walks on water, feeds five thousand. Moses parts the Red Sea, God speaks a world into existence, and Daniel is saved from the mouths of hungry lions. At first glance, this is not one of those texts. In fact, this text is one of sorrow and misery: recounting for us the pitiful state of a woman who, having first lost her husband has now lost her only son and is left alone in this world.
The story of the centurion that we studied last week is an inspiring text. The man has great faith. He appeals to Jesus to heal his servant. Jesus speaks the word from a distance and the man is healed. The centurion’s faith amazes Jesus so that He wonders why His own people don’t have that kind of faith. We are challenged to be a people of faith too. But as much as that passage moves us, most of us probably more readily identify with this woman.
Some of you know the deep pain of having had to bury a son or a daughter, whether a child or an adult. It never seems natural. You know what it is like to be alone in the world after burying a husband or a wife. Beyond that is the pain of living in a world where we find ourselves at a loss – a loss of hope, of the will to go on, of the ability to even care any more. Life beats us down. The drudgery of life takes its toll on our marriages, our jobs and on our financial security. Health concerns, the rising costs of getting along and sometimes just wishing you had a few days to stop and catch your breath can all leave us feeling empty, isolated and numb. We begin to wonder whether Jesus hears our prayers or notices our tears. At that point we need more than a few platitudes that encourage us to have a new attitude or to cheer up. It is in those moments when we are in deep need of an encounter with Jesus Christ – the only real source of hope and help for a hurting people.
As we look back through this passage of Scripture, I want to make two assertions that I believe can help each of us walk through the tough moments of life and end up like those people we see in verse 16, who were moved with fear as “they glorified God, recognizing that God has visited us.”
Sorrow Is Here To Stay
In Romans 6:23 Paul said that “the wages of sin is death.” In Romans 5:12 he said that “sin entered the world…and death through sin.” James wrote that when “sin is full-grown it brings forth death.” Don’t ever forget the reality of sin. Sin always – and I repeat, ALWAYS leads to sorrow. It may seem fun or satisfying for a moment, but the result is always the same.
In Luke 7 we become witnesses to a sad funeral procession. I’ve never been to one that wasn’t mournful or sorrowful, but here is an exceptionally sorrowful funeral. Verse 14 indicates that the son who died was a young man, meaning anything from twenty-five up to around thirty-five or even forty. He is the only son of a widow lady. What grief she must bear as she is left alone to fend for herself in a culture that would have viewed this loss as the judgment of God for something she had done. She doesn’t just bury a son with great sorrow – she will have to walk back to town with shame as well. But listen, God didn’t create the world this way. In the beginning it was all very good; sin changed it all.
In his commentary on the book of Luke, J.C. Ryle wrote,
“We must never forget this truth. The world around us is full of sorrow. Sickness and pain and poverty and trouble abound on every side. From one end of the world to the other families are sad and mourn. And where does all this come from? Sin is the foundation and root to which everything can be traced back. There would never have been any tears or illness or death or funerals on the earth if there had been no sin…let us lay blame at the right door. Let us lay the blame on sin…”