Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Jesus Gives - June 9, 2013 - Third Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 05) - Text: Luke 7:11-17
Last week our readings encouraged us in our prayer life. Perhaps even as parents we were encouraged to pray for our children, but even more, as Christians we were encouraged to pray for each other. Interestingly enough, the people who put together our pericopy system obviously were not accustomed to our American holy days, because after reading our lessons for today, both the Old Testament and the Gospel, one might think these would be fitting texts for a Mother’s Day celebration, with these text being the giving back to mothers the lives of their only sons who had died rather unexpectedly. And yet even though it is not Mother’s Day, today we rejoice in the giving of our Lord’s Word and His Word which does what it says. Today His Word gives life and so we are given life. And we say, “Thanks be to God.”
Our text for this morning follows immediately after our text from last week. Luke transitions us by saying, “soon afterward,” that is, soon after Jesus healed the centurion’s servant He went to a town called Nain. Jesus has been doing this “Messiah bit” for some time now. He has changed water into wine, healed and cast out demons, cleansed lepers, and made paralytics whole. He has preached the word, and He has forgiven sins but up to this point He has not yet shown His real power, that is, His power even over death, which we know is a result of sin, but that is about to change.
Soon after Jesus healed the centurion’s servant he went to Nain. There, as He entered the town, He was met by a funeral procession. And in quick succession Luke tells us a lot about this funeral procession. “A man who had died,” was being carried out. This man was, “the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.” Luke says a lot in just a few words. We may well be moved to have pity for this woman, wife and mother. There has been much sorrow in her life. Her husband had previously passed away leaving her to raise up and care for their only child, a son. And if that were not enough, now her only son, the child who was to grow up and take care of her into old age has passed away. Certainly we cannot stress the fact enough, but here we see the horrid result of sin. Not necessarily the sin of this young man or his mother, but the result of sin in general in our world, even the result of the first sin in the Garden of Eden. The result of sin is death and as we see, with death is sorrow and mourning.
Luke continues to tell us that many from the town are grieving with her as there was a considerable crowd in the funeral procession. “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her.” Unfortunately our English word, “compassion” does not do justice to the feeling and emotion which Jesus felt. And I do not know if we can completely understand the Lexicon’s explanation of this compassion that is that Jesus was deeply moved to the depth of His being. Jesus approached the woman and encouraged her with the words, “do not weep.” Certainly easier said than done, but with Jesus, He does not just speak empty words. Remember, Jesus’ words always do what they say and with Jesus speaking, “do not weep,” there is more to His words than an empty sentiment.
Risking becoming unclean, Jesus reached out and touched the bier. He touched the casket so that the pall bearers had to stop. Jesus is risking becoming unclean, because touching anything dead would make one unclean and unworthy to worship in the temple, yet for Jesus there really is no risk because rather than becoming unclean He is there to bring life from death, to bring cleansing and healing.
And Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” Jesus commanded life, even life from death. “And the dead man sat up and began to speak.” Sin brings death, Jesus brings life. Sin separates us from God, Jesus restores that broken relationship. Jesus is truly God with power over all things. When Jesus speaks, His word does what it says. Jesus says “arise,” and the man arose. The man was brought back from death to life and he sat up.
And yet, Jesus is not done yet. After raising the young man from the dead we are told, He gave the young man back to his mother. His words to this mother, “Do not weep,” are made real as He takes her tears from her by giving her back her son, her only son, her flesh and blood, the one to care for her in her old age. What joy wipes away the tears of mourning as gladness comes from the Lord.
The reaction of the crowd is that “fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and ‘God has visited his people!’” As Jesus continued to show Himself to be the Messiah, the people began to realize more and more that He was more than just a good man and a good teacher.
The people are beginning to recognize that Jesus is prophet. Not everyone necessarily recognized Him as the Messiah, but they do recognize Him as a prophet. Similarly in our Old Testament Lesson for this morning you may have noticed that Elijah, although not the Messiah, was a prophet who was sent from God who himself was not always recognized as such, at least not until, as the Old Testament reading describes, he raised a child from the dead. Certainly this power over death was a sign of one being sent from God and one being a prophet and in our text Jesus is now being recognized as such.
And so we ask, “What does this mean?” First, I believe it is imperative that we recognize the result of sin in this world. We are living on the sin side of the fall into sin in the Garden of Eden and we see how sin has infected, not only the earth, with thorns and thistles, with tornadoes and hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters, but sin has also infected all humanity. All people are conceived and born in sin and thus all people are born and destined to die. You and I are conceived and born in sin. We daily sin much and are destined to die. Without forgiveness, not only would we die like the young man in our Gospel reading, that is not only would we die a physical death, but we would also suffer eternal spiritual death, eternal separation from God. Left to ourselves we would have no hope. Our hope and our salvation must and does come from outside of us.
You may have noticed that in our text for this morning and in the previous miracle, the healing of the centurion’s servant, there is no mention of the faith of the one who was healed and raised from the dead. Contrary to what many of the so called “faith healers” will tell you, it is not the faith of the one being healed or raised from the dead that make these miracles happen. And here I am reminded of the fact that God can do whatever He wants to do because He is, after all, God. No amount of unbelief or sin on our part can keep Him from healing or raising from the dead. Our hope and our salvation must and does not come from inside it comes from outside of us.
In our text from this morning we see that Jesus is truly human. He has feelings. He cares and shows it. He is moved to the depth of His being. In the same way He cares for and loves each one of us. The reason He came to this earth was because of His great love for us. A love that is not from within us, but that is a reflection of His first loving us. We love because He first loved us. We are lovable only because He makes us lovable. Our hope and our salvation must and does come from outside of us.
Also, in our text for this morning we see that Jesus is truly God. Who else can forgive sins, except God. Who else has power over all creation, even over death except God. Jesus had power. Jesus has power to forgiven sins. He has power over death. Jesus is God.
And so the people of Nain rightly recognize, Jesus is a prophet, and more, He is God visiting His people. We would rightly say, He is the Messiah. Sin brought death, Jesus came to bring life. He came to bring life by giving His own life.
But what about today? Today we still live this side of the fall into sin. Today we still suffer the results of sin in our world. Today people still sin and with sin people still suffer and even die. Death continues to be the result of sin. And yet, even today, Jesus still has compassion on us. Jesus does not like to see us suffer. Suffering and death were never a part of His plan. Life, even eternal life to its fullest were His plans. Jesus still has compassion on us today and He continues to show His compassion on us through His means of grace.
Jesus still brings healing to us today. He brings physical healing through doctors and medicine. Even more importantly He continues to bring spiritual healing through His Word and Sacraments. Jesus’ Word continues to do what it says, give forgiveness, strengthen and keep in faith. His sacraments continue to do their work, giving and strengthening in faith.
Jesus still gives life. He gives us life more abundantly in this world and He gives us eternal life. Jesus has power over sin, death and the devil. He is the one who died and rose defeating eternal spiritual death. And He trades His death for our death so that we have life.
In our text we are shown the sorrow of the widow who had suffered the death of her husband and her son. We are shown the horrid result of sin, the sin of Adam and Eve that is born in each one of us and our own actual sins, that result being death, physical death. Yet, even more horrible would be death apart from Jesus, because apart from Jesus and faith in Jesus would be eternal spiritual death, which is hell as well. However, thanks be to God, this morning we rejoice and give thanks to our great God, our God who is a God of love, a God who loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son to live perfectly for us, in our place; take our sins upon Himself, suffer and die in order to pay the price for our sins and to rise again showing us that by simple faith in Him, faith which He gives to us, we too have the gift and promise that we too shall rise again and that we too have eternal life in heaven with Him. And so we rightly respond and say, “To God be the glory,” for Jesus’ sake. Amen.