June 30, 2019

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit



First Lesson; 1 Kings 17:17-24

Second Lesson; Galatians 1:11-24                            

Sermon Text; Luke 7:11-17


The portion of God's Word that we look at today is taken from Luke, chapter seven, looking at verses eleven through seventeen.  This is in Jesus' name.


Soon afterward Jesus went on His way to a town called Nain, and His disciples and a large crowd were traveling with Him.  As He was approaching the town gate, there was a dead man being carried out, the only son of his mother.  She was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her.  When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not cry.”  He went up to the open coffin, touched it, and the pallbearers stopped.  He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”  The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

Fear gripped all of them, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us” and “God has visited His people!”  This was reported about Him in all of Judea and in all the surrounding countryside.


This is God's Word.


Our text for today begins with the two words, “Soon afterward...”  It is a reminder to us of what happened right before our text for today.  What happened right before our text was last Sunday's Gospel Lesson.  It was when Jesus healed the Centurion's servant.  Jesus had compassion on that Gentile man, and He healed his servant in a city called Capernaum. 

Today we see Jesus having compassion on a Jewish widow.  This happened in the town of Nain which was about twenty miles away.  Some commentators even think that in one day Jesus, and this large crowd with Him, traveled from Capernaum to Nain. 

What we see here is the very first instance in scripture of Jesus raising somebody from the dead.  He raised the widow of Nain's  son.

The second in scripture is when He raised Jairus' daughter.

The third, and maybe the most familiar of all of them, is when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  That happened in the city of Nain.

Last fall you may remember the wild fires that took place in California.  It was a historic year for wild fires in California.  But, probably the one you remember best is the one that is known as The Camp Wild Fire.  You maybe even remember the town that was decimated by The Camp Wild Fire.  You probably still remember the name.  The name is Paradise.  A wonderful sounding name for a town, and yet a very unpleasant event happened there. 

Actually, the name 'Nain' means, 'charming place'.  It means 'lovely'.  It means 'pleasant'.  And yet, an unpleasant event happened there, as the widow's son died.  Our text for today tells us it is the only son of this widow.  And so what that means is this widow had gone through this before.  She had been in this exact same predicament sometime before this, when her husband died.  They had gone through the two gates out to the cemetery to bury her husband.  Now, she was going through the same thing, as she was doing this with her only son.  She had left the city of Nain with a large crowd, a considerable crowd. Later on in this text Jesus called this man, young man.  The Greek word there is not just an infant, or a toddler.  It is not a teenager.  This is a young adult we are talking about who had died.  He was the only son of this woman.  Now, her husband is dead.  Her only son is dead and it was going to be a tough road to hoe for this woman in her life, from this time forward.

That is when this considerable crowd who was with the woman, were leaving the town of Nain.  The large crowd who was following Jesus from Capernaum to Nain met at the city gates.  That is when Jesus' heart went out to her.  That is when scripture tells us Jesus “had compassion on her”.  The Greek word here for 'compassion' is 'splagchnizomai'.  Really, the Greek word has the nuance of 'your gut moves'.  That is the compassion Jesus had for her.

This last Wednesday I was coming back from Synod Convention, and cruising down the interstate, when I came to a screeching halt.  The interstate became a parking lot.  I got on my phone to look at the traffic report.  Sure enough, there was going to be considerable delay for a long time to come.  So, I was able to reroute, get onto some country roads, and bypass the interstate, until I was able to get back on.  It was the next day that my wife Katie sent an email to me saying, “This was the reason for your traffic delay.  There was a two car accident, and five people were injured.  A parent and their child, and three teenagers.  Two of those teenagers critically, and one of those teenagers died.” 

I had compassion for those families.  But, there was nothing I could do about it. 

But here Jesus, in His compassion for this widow, was able to do something about it.  Here is what Jesus did.  He stopped the funeral procession right in its tracks.  He went up to the stretcher the young man was laying on.  Jesus looked death in the face, when He said to that young man,

“Young man, I say to you, get up!” 

Death needed to listen to the words of Jesus.

Today, as we look at our text, we see the predicament we are in.  Scripture is very clear, and very straight forward, when it says in this one simple sentence, in the book of Ephesians:

“We are dead in our trespasses and sins.”

That is a picture of us.  We are dead in our trespasses and sins, and there is nothing we can do about it.  But, Jesus in His compassion for you, and for me, is able to do something about it.  Jesus is the only Son who is able to do something about it.  Scripture tells us what God's One and only Son did. 

“God so loved the world

that He gave His One, and only Son,

that whoever believes in Him shall not perish,

but have everlasting life.”

Jesus also knew the predicament this widow was in, in the situation from our text for today.  Jesus went up to death, approached death, said,

“Young man, I say to you, get up!” 

Death needed to listen to the words of Jesus. 

What is Jesus showing, here? 

-Well, He is showing He is not just a Man.  But, Jesus is showing He is true God.  He has power over death.  

-Jesus is also showing us He is greater than Elijah from our Old Testament Lesson for today.  In our Old Testament Lesson, Elijah raised the widow of Zarephath's son from death.  I need to clarify what I said there.  Elijah didn't do that under his own power.  Elijah did that through the power of the Lord, as he called on the name of the Lord to come, and raise the widow of Zarephath's son.  Then, Elijah gave her son back to her.

But, Jesus didn't need to call upon the name of the Lord, because He is God.  It was through the power of His own word that He went up to the man, and said,

“Young man, I say to you, get up!” 

That is great news for all of us, isn't it?  Jesus has power over death.  When Jesus tells death to leave, death needs to go.  When Jesus says, “Life, come”, life needs to come. 

Jesus has power over death.

In review, we are just like the widow's son.   We are dead in our trespasses, and our sins.  Just like the widow, we are hopeless, and helpless on our own.  But, we have an Advocate who comes to our rescue.  Just as Jesus had compassion on the widow, and raised her son back from death, Jesus has compassion on you, and on me, as well.

I told you there are three examples in scripture of Jesus raising somebody from the dead. 

-The first one is what we are looking at today, Jesus raising the widow of Nain's son.

-The second is Jesus raising Jarius' daughter from death.

-The third, and probably the most familiar, is when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

Right before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He was visiting with Lazarus' sister.  Her name was Martha.  Jesus brought words of comfort to Martha that has comforted God's people for the last two thousand years.  Here is what Jesus said.

“I am the resurrection, and the life.

Whoever believes in me will live,

even though they die.

Whoever lives and believes in me,

will never die.”

That is why we continue to teach our youth, here at Holy Cross, in our Catechism Classes, that Jesus has power over death.  When we  look at The Third Article of The Apostle's Creed, and we get to The Explanation of Third Article of The Apostle's Creed, we have the kids memorize the very last paragraph.

“In this Christian Church, He daily and richly forgives me, and all believers all of our sins.  At the last day, He will raise up me, and all the dead.  He will grant me, and all believers in Christ eternal life.  This is most certainly true.”

And so, what was the result of what Jesus did in the city of Nain that day?  How was it that the people responded?  Our text for today tells us they were seized with fear.  They glorified God.  And they said God has come and visited His people.

They were seized with fear.  It is not that they were afraid.  That is not what the Greek word means, here.  But they were filled with an awe and reverence for Jesus.  They were filled with awe with what Jesus had done, in raising this young man, and bringing him back to life.  They brought all praise and glory to God, and thanked God that He had come and visited His people. 

Throughout history that is how God's people have responded, when God, in His compassion for you and for me, has come, and helped us out of our predicament.  I will share with you a few examples with you. 

-When God sent Moses to His people in Egypt, and they knew Moses was going to be their deliverer, here was their response to what God had done for them.  They heard that the Lord was concerned about them, and had seen them in their misery, and they bowed down and worshiped Him.

-When God came to Zechariah, who was the father of John the Baptist, and announced to him he would have a son who would be the forerunner of Jesus, here is how Zechariah responded, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come and redeemed His people.”
Here is how God wants us to respond, as we know God has helped us out in our predicament, as He sent His One and only Son, and in compassion saved us from our sin by His death on the cross, and defeated death, and given us life in Heaven.  Our response should be like the author of the book of Hebrews says, “We do not have One who is unable to sympathize with our weakness.  But we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, and yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

The very last thing I share with you is this.  Every week of the church year has a psalm assigned to it.   We don't always use the psalm that is assigned for the day, but one is assigned for every weekend of the church year.  The psalm that is assigned to the reading for today is from Psalm 30.  This is a psalm of David.  In this psalm, it is his thankfulness to God for his deliverance from death.  It ties in with Elijah, through the power of God, raising the widow of Zarephath's son.  It ties in with Jesus, in His compassion for the widow, raising the widow of Nain's son, when scripture says this in Psalm 30, which is a prayer for deliverance from death.

“O Lord, my God, I called to you for help,

and you healed me. 

O Lord, you brought me up from the grave. 

You spared me from going down into the pit. 

Sing to the Lord, you saints of His,

and praise His holy name.”

What was the response of the people in Nain, when they heard, and saw with their own eyes, what Jesus did?  Do you know what they did?  They proclaimed the name of Jesus, throughout the surrounding area. 

They proclaimed God's name.  They proclaimed Jesus' name to the surrounding area. 

May we be like those who have gone before us, knowing God has helped them out in their predicament, singing praises to God, and proclaiming the name of the Lord.  May we too see that God has helped us out in our predicament.  He saw that we were dead in our trespasses and sins.  He sent His One and only Son.  Through His One and only Son, Jesus has defeated death.  He has given you life.  Let us proclaim the name of Jesus to those in our area, as well.