God HAS Come To Help His People
Luke 7:11–17 (CSB)
11 Afterward he was on his way to a town called Nain. His disciples and a large crowd were traveling with him. 12 Just as he neared the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was also with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said, “Don’t weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the open coffin, and the pallbearers stopped. And he said, “Young man, I tell you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Then fear came over everyone, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people.” 17 This report about him went throughout Judea and all the vicinity.
Dear fellow redeemed, whom God Himself has come to save: Can you imagine yourself flying above the hill country of Galilee on that day? I’ve never been in a hot-air balloon, but I’m told you can hear everything on the ground. So I imagine flying above this little town, whose name means “Vale of Beauty.”
Coming into the town is a big procession, headed from Capernaum. Here there is joy and exhilaration, for Jesus had healed the servant of the centurion there. But coming from the other direction, out of the town, is another procession. Here, according to custom, there is shrieking and wailing, and the most pitiable sound imaginable, for in this procession is the body of a young man, followed by his widowed mother.
The two processions meet and mingle. It’s quiet, and one man speaks. The young man sits up and is given back to His mother.
No doubt there was plenty said. The wailing stopped, and a hubbub took its place. Luke caught the gist of it in the words of many of them, “God has come to help his people.”
GOD HAS COME TO HELP HIS PEOPLE
- God Comes to Us in Our Greatest Need
- He Comes with Rescue Unlooked-for
- God Comes to Us in Our Greatest Need
This is certainly a case of someone saying more than they know. What the people said was true, but far more true in far more ways than they may have imagined.
If we had the chance to not only take that balloon ride, but to see things the way the people saw them, and hear them the way the people heard them, what would we see? What is Luke showing US here? What makes this more than something done once for one person?
Luke certainly shows us what the people saw or should have seen. When Luke says, “Jesus gave him back to his mother,” he uses a direct quote from our Old Testament Lesson, using the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint. That clearly showed that Jesus was every bit as great as Elijah, who raised another widow’s son from the dead.
Luke also tells us what the people said, “A great prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people.”Note: Not just a person, but people. Heaven has come to earth.
Jesus acted out of true compassion for the terrible situation the one woman was in. Our text says 13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said, “Don’t weep.” (Dry your eyes.) And well he might have compassion, for the woman was in desperate circumstances. In our day dad is the butt of the joke, the Homer Simpson character, characterized as somebody who just doesn’t get it, and who is just tolerated around the house. In Jesus day, the error was in the other direction, and only men had standing in the community, could own property, could conduct business. To be without a husband or at least a son to speak for her, a woman would suffer poverty, and in some cases even starve if she had no family to care for her. Jesus did more for her than give her back her son; He gave her back her life.
What kind of a prophet was this? We can tell from the wider context. Luke preceded this account with the account of the centurion’s servant, remember? The cure of that servant was similar to Elijah curing Naaman the Syrian. And now Jesus raises a widow’s son, as Elijah did! And the next event after this text is Jesus talking about John the Baptist as the “Elijah” who was to come, so what did that make Jesus? GOD has come to help His people!
While the prophets came to prepare the way for Jesus, in Jesus, God Comes to Us in Our Greatest Need. He came to save us from sin.
Pick the most terrible things in the world; they are just symptoms of the real problem. As God tells us in Romans, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12, CSB) The basic problem that these people faced is that they were sinners.
How ever bad things were for the people of Nain, and especially this poor widow, they do not hold a candle to their greater problem, and their greater need. For what they needed, and what you and I need is righteousness. For only the righteous will finally be delivered from this evil– wonderfully, joyously, and forever.
- He Comes with Rescue Un-looked-for
Because of Its Greatness
It is this righteousness that Jesus brought with Him to Nain. It is His righteousness that is offered to you. It is His righteousness that is His gift of grace. Jesus isn’t just being powerful for this one woman, He is being good – for all. He is providing a righteousness that comes from God and becomes ours by faith.
This mighty work was being accomplished every day that Jesus lived among us. It was accomplished in His words of kindness. His righteousness was made complete in his loving service to others. His righteousness was complete in His reproof of the erring and in His comforting forgiveness to those grieving over their sins. His righteousness was established in His virtues of honesty, and chastity, and joy and longsuffering and selflessness.
His righteousness was affirmed by God the Father, Who said, This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.
This is the righteousness that is given to you in the gospel. This is the righteousness that becomes yours by faith. This is all that is left to your account before God because Jesus died the death that our sins have called down upon us.
This gift of righteousness is greater than the gift of life. Greater than healing, greater than a resurrection like this one. For this gift of righteousness is the gift of everlasting life, and it profits all of us – by faith.
Because of Our Blindness
If you had been in that balloon, do you think you would have seen the Lord our Righteousness down below?
Why don’t we see it? If this gift of righteousness is so great, then why doesn’t the whole world fall back on its collective heals in amazement? Because without the Holy Spirit working through the word, we are too blind, spiritually speaking. “But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.” (1 Corinthians 2:14, CSB)
With the guidance of God’s word, though, we can see and know in some small way, what Christ has brought us without our looking for it.
When we do see who this Christ is, we should be astounded.
Because Jesus has given you righteousness that reconciles us to God, He is your LOVING Father. He listens with eagerness to your prayers. As the psalmist says, “My soul, bless the Lord, and do not forget all his benefits. He forgives all your iniquity; he heals all your diseases. He redeems your life from the Pit; he crowns you with faithful love and compassion. He satisfies you with good things; your youth is renewed like the eagle.” (Psalm 103:2–5, CSB)
Let me remind you (and so remind myself also), that God’s love is brought to this world especially and most importantly through the gospel. But hugely, He depends upon YOU and ME to be His instruments to express His love in the world. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, CSB)
God needs you. He needs your Christian virtues of love and compassion to care for His children. He has endowed us with wealth so that in His place, as His stewards, we can care for His church, His families, His creatures. He looks to us fathers to be the spiritual leaders in our homes, church, and community. He needs us see the opportunities that there are to be a blessing, and to commit to them, and to carry out that commitment.
For as we live the Christian virtues, particularly as we express the love of Christ in the Gospel, we give people reason to say, even now,
GOD HAS COME TO HELP HIS PEOPLE! Amen.