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WHO COULD DO THAT?

God Has Come to Help His People.

Can you imagine yourself flying above the hill country of Galilee over the village of Nain 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, “Young man, I tell you, get up!” The young man sits up, and he is given back to His mother. WHO COULD DO THAT!?

God Himself has come to visit and redeem His people!

Sermon for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, September 27, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

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 town 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, “Young man, I tell you, get up!” The young man sits up, and he 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 visited his people.”

GOD HAS COME TO HELP HIS PEOPLE

  1. God Comes to Us in Our Greatest Need
  2. He Comes with Rescue Unlooked-for
  1. 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 to his mother,” He uses a direct quote from our Old Testament Lesson, using the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint.  This clearly showed that Jesus was greater than Elijah, who raised another widow’s son from the dead, indeed MORE than Elijah, for Elijah prayed to the Lord, but Jesus said, I tell you, get up!”

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 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. 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?  Luke sets it up to show that this was no mere prophet. Jesus’ cure of the Centurion’s 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 prepare the way for the Messiah, so what did that make Jesus? One greater than Elijah has come, GOD has visited His people!

The term “visited” means way more than “show up.” It means to come, be present in need, and to help in ways most needed.

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.

The Covid epidemic, our cancers and heart troubles, the fires in Phoenix, Talent, and up and down the country, the riots and rebellion in the cities, the fatherless families, the drug-injured and homeless, the persecution of faithful Christians by Red China, on down to our own sicknesses, weaknesses, and troubles: The car won’t start, or the roof leaks. …

Pick the most terrible things in the world or the littlest disappointments; 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)  and “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.” (Romans 8:22, CSB)

The basic problem that these people faced is that they were sinners. However bad things were for the people of Nain, and especially this poor widow, it is because of the curse of our sins. The cure? What they needed, and what you and I need is righteousness.  For only the righteous will finally be delivered from death and all evil, wonderfully, joyously, and forever.

2. He Comes with Rescue Unlooked-for

Rescue 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.

His righteousness was accomplished in His words of kindness.  It 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 foretold, for example, in Jeremiah, “In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is the name he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:6, CSB)

This is the righteousness that is given to you in the gospel.  This is the righteousness that becomes yours by faith, makes peace with God, and opens Heaven to you.

Unlooked-for Because of Our Blindness

If you had been in that balloon, do you think you would have seen the Lord our Righteousness down below?

Many don’t see it today, because for them, man is the measure of all things, and the materialistic worldview scoffs at truth, beauty, goodness, and righteousness. This is because of unbelief, because without the Holy Spirit working faith through the word, people 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 what Christ has brought us without our looking for it – a righteousness that counts with God and makes us welcome in heaven itself.

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)

This “Rescue Unlooked-for” has come to you, and through you it comes to those around you. 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 makes use of you.  He uses 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 opens opportunities for us to speak of the hope that we have, which is nothing less than the hope of the world. Our hope is that …

GOD Himself HAS COME TO Rescue HIS PEOPLE!    Amen.