God Has Come To Help His People
Luke 7:11-17, Psalm 121
March 14th, 2021
This past week, God spoke to me and encouraged me in a powerful way through a passage, and I sensed that He wanted me to share that same passage with you this morning because there may be someone this morning who also needs to be encouraged by it.
If you have a Bible, please turn to Luke 7:11-17. As you are flipping there, I want to ask you to think of a time where you needed help, badly. And at just the right time, someone showed up (maybe someone you didn’t expect) to help. Maybe it was someone who helped you study or finish a project at school. Maybe it was someone who helped you finish a job. Maybe it was someone who came along and was a listening ear when you needed it the most. Maybe it was someone who brought over a meal to your house on a stressful day. Maybe it was someone coming over to watch the kids to give you a break. Maybe it was someone who was just being a good friend.
Everyone remember something? How did you feel when you were all by yourself – when you knew you needed help, but none was there? And do you remember how you felt when you got the help you so desperately needed? I want to share with you a time where Jesus showed up, very unexpected, and helped in a way that likely no one had planned for.
Jesus is walking to a town called Nain, SE of Nazareth, his hometown. He is being followed by his twelve disciples, and a large crowd. Crowds have been following Him for a bit now as word spread about who He was. People came to hear Him teach, to see Him perform miracles, maybe in some cases hoping that some of His power might rub off on them, or that He could do a miracle for them. Whatever the reason, a large crowd is walking with Him on this day.
As they likely are getting close to the town, they are already hearing a commotion, a racket, a lot of noise… but hold on to that for later.
As Jesus gets to the town gate, he meets a procession of people carrying out a man on an open coffin, being taken outside the town to be buried as in those days, dead bodies were considered unclean, and they would have to burry them outside of the city walls to remain ceremonially clean according to the religious law.
This particular man who had died was the only son of a widow woman. This is important to know as this mom was about to have her life change drastically. When her husband died, she became considered one of the weakest members of society. The reason is that her husband would have been her provider and protector in that culture. In those days, women did not enjoy the same freedoms and rights that we now are blessed and enjoy having. She would not of had a job and would have not had the protection that her husband would have brought.
Her son would have taken over caring for her, but with him dying, she now had no family to care for her. She was on her own with no one to protect her or provide for her. She was all alone, was hurting from the loss of her son, and needed help. Can you picture her pain, her heart aching, her loss?
Remember I mentioned about Jesus hearing a commotion as He got close to town? There was a large crowd that was with the widow, and they would have all been mourning, but not like we think of funeral processions now with all the quiet respect. There would have been noise, and lots of it. There would have been professional mourners hired who would have been wailing loudly and publicly, leading the crowd in doing the same. There would have been flutes blowing randomly, and cymbals crashing. It would have been a racket!
Jesus approaches the woman, and what do we see? He was moved to the core of His being. When we see that His heart went out to her, the exact translation of “heart” or “compassion” is that He was moved to the very depths of the seat of the emotions – in our culture, the heart. Yet to understand His reaction, we need to understand where the seat of the emotions was in those times. The bowels were considered where the seat of the emotions was.
Rather than just His heart breaking, He was moved with a gut wrenching sorrow and compassion for this woman, one that would have affected Him to the pits of His stomach. And as He saw her, it was almost like an inward gasp because of feeling so strong a compassion for her. And out of that, He says to her with absolute love and care (plus maybe a bit of knowing what He was about to do), He says “don’t cry”.
Jesus goes to where the attendants are carrying this man out on this open coffin, and He touches it silently. And instantly everything freezes. (Kind of like when I used to live in Davidson and went for coffee at the local coffee shop and everything stopped when I entered the door as the locals watched this ‘outsider’ come into their coffee shop).
The reason why everything froze? Jesus just knowingly made Himself “unclean” according to the law. He had just touched where a dead body was. This would have almost been scandalous. And in shock, they stop.
And then Jesus does something even more weird. He talks to the dead man and says as if this dead guy can hear Him, “hey young man, I say to you (note that…. it is important as Jesus is placing His authority and power on the words He is about to say), get up! And then the unbelievable happens. This guy, even though dead, because of the authority and power of Jesus’ words (due to Jesus being God) heard, came back to life again, and sat up and began to talk. Anyone ever thought how odd this would have seemed? Maybe unbelievable? Yet, this shows the power of the God we serve, that on His very command, everything comes under authority and power, and He even has power over death and life itself.
At that, this man goes back to His mother. And his passing only a short time before is a thing of the past.
The people were filled with a holy fear, reverence, an awe. It was like they said “wow… what just happened here?? That was so incredible….God is so powerful.” And then they worshipped God.
They say that a great prophet has come. Why? Because several hundred years prior, in the same region, the prophet Elijah did a very similar miracle where he brought back to life the only son of a widow (1 Kg 17:17-23), Elisha also, in the same region (after Elijah) brought a son back to life. These people would have known those miracles. They would have heard the accounts in the Torah. And here is Jesus, doing the same thing.
Then notice what they said: God has come to help His people. I don’t think anything needs to be added to that. God, in the person of Jesus Christ, came that day and helped His people. And because God showed up, because Jesus did what only He could do as the Son of God, news spread, and people heard about the amazing power of Jesus Christ.
God has come to help His people. And He has come today to help you. He sees whatever you are facing, and He knows your need. And He wants to meet you in it today and bring you to a place of wholeness and healing.
-> Who are you today? The mother, or the son?
Maybe you are the mother. You are carrying the pain of life. You are carrying the pain of loss. Something has happened and it has wounded you, hurt you, left you feeling alone. Something has happened that has you worried about your future. Something has happened and you feel like you can’t carry on. You need hope.
Maybe you are the son. Something has happened, and truly, you feel like the very life you used to find purpose in has been robbed from you. Something has happened and you feel empty and of no value. You feel day to day like you are just existing, but with no direction, no focus, no anything – you are just going through the motions. And you need to be brought back to life.
This week, God used this passage to personally speak to me about who I was and where I was at. I can tell you who I was even up to earlier this week. I was both… I needed hope, and I needed life.
-> But let me tell you an amazing truth: God has come to help His people! I say this from personal experience. And today, wherever you are at, He wants to help you too with whatever it is you are facing. He feels compassion for you, He wants to comfort you, He wants to restore hope to you, and He wants to breathe new life into your weary and empty feeling spirit.
-> God has come to help His people. And when we walk in the healing and wholeness He brings, the hope and the life, through those things this church becomes a vibrant life giving place, this community becomes attractive, and the news about what Jesus does and who He is spreads around our community and the world.
May the words of Psalm 121 be an encouragement to you:
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.