This is the sermon for The Seventh Sunday of Easter (Exaudi). The sermon text is: Luke 7:11-17. The sermon theme is: See The Showdown! Here is the Written Sermon.
See The Showdown!
Jesus was no wimp. If you talk to people on the street, or read magazines or watch movies, when the topic of Jesus is brought up, the world has a very interesting picture of who he was. There are many people out there who picture Jesus as this man who always had a smile on his face. They picture him as a person who looked the other way when people sinned—and the whole while there is that smile on his face. In short, there are many out there who picture Jesus as a wimp. But very quickly, as we read God’s word, we see that Jesus was no wimp. Whenever there was sin and death Jesus faced it. Whenever there was a showdown Jesus threw down. And if we want to see one of those showdowns, here, this morning in the words of Luke, chapter 7, we find them: “Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”” (Luke 7:11–13 NIV)
Like so many sections of scripture, these are words we need to picture. Picture Jesus with a large mob of people following him. Then picture a woman with a sizable group of people with her. They don’t see each other until one mob meets the other at a small, narrow opening in the city wall, the town gate.
And there’s the showdown. Do you see it? Jesus, the Lord of Life is on one side. And Luke goes out of his way to painstakingly make us understand what is on the other. Word by word he makes us understand what is going on. Who is at the head of the other mob? A dead person.1 Who is this dead person? He is the son of his mother. How sad to think of any mother losing her child to death! But it gets worse. He wasn’t just a son. He was her only son.2 Oh, what sadness must have been there in her heart! And as if it couldn’t get even worse, Luke gives us the last detail. This woman was already a widow.3 Death stole her only husband. And now he stole her only son.
Now doe you see the showdown? Now do you see the struggle? What I find so fascinating about these words is that Jesus doesn’t have to do anything. The boy dies. Through faith in Jesus’ and what Jesus has done for him, the boy is in heaven. Jesus doesn’t have to do anything. But he does. Jesus doesn’t just allow a showdown–he forces a showdown.
Why? From these words we can see two real reasons. First, he forces this showdown because he doesn’t want to be bullied around by Satan and he wants to rob him of his joy. And make no mistake, my fellow saints in Christ, whenever someone dies, Satan is happy. He is ever-so happy to pour out pain on us. And how much joy he must have had this day when this woman’s son—her only son died—after her only husband died.
Jesus forces this showdown to rob Satan of his joy. But there is another reason. And we read about that reason in verse 13: “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”” (Luke 7:13 NIV)
‘His heart went out to her.’4 The word that Luke uses here is a very descriptive word. It means ‘to feel like your stomach is being torn apart.’ Have you ever felt like that? Every parent feels this. When your child gets hurt, when she gets injured, when he gets insulted, when he gets sick, where do you feel it? You feel pain for your child right here, in your guts. Jesus felt so much pain and sorrow in his guts—not for himself, but for this woman—this widow. For Satan and Death were delighting in her misery.
Now, we need to pause here for a moment and apply them. One of the most dangerous and damaging things to say to a person who has lost a loved one to death is that what he or she is going through is normal. Is that what Jesus did here? Did he walk over to this woman and say ‘there’s no need to weep anymore’ because death isn’t a big deal?5 Sin is not natural. And the death that sin brings is not natural too. What a sin it is to lead a person to think that the loved one that death took from them was like a blade of grass or a bird in the air! it lived; it died; get over it. Sin and death are not natural. They are our Lord’s enemies.
Now, from here, we get to see the showdown itself: “Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.” (Luke 7:14–15 NIV)
Jesus goes to the coffin. He speaks to the dead boy as if he were alive. He tells him: “young man, I’m telling you: get up.”6 And what happens? the boy sits up. From this we learn a powerful and important lesson: the words that Jesus speaks have power.
When you were born into this world you were dead. You were spiritually dead. You did not know who God was. You did not go to him. You did not choose him. You did not put your faith in him because you had no faith to put in him. So what does Jesus, our Lord do? He makes you alive.7 But what does he use to make you alive? He uses his word–the same powerful word he uses here to bring this boy to life.8
He brings you into his kingdom with his word. And he will take you into his eternal kingdom, heaven with that same word. The Apostle Paul writes: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16 NIV)
So, my brothers and sisters, our first day in Christ’s kingdom Jesus uses he word. And our last day in this world he uses his word to bring you to heaven. But, what’s vitally important for us to understand is that it isn’t just our first day of faith and our last day on this earth that God uses his word. He uses he powerful word every day in-between.
This is so vitally important to understand, because the day might come when death comes into your family and you lose one close to you. And there will be that voice which says ‘where is Jesus now?’ And in truth, will Jesus come down from heaven and stop at the coffin of the person you love? And will he make your loved one rise from the dead? I wouldn’t bet on it.
But, my brothers and sisters, this is where Jesus’ ascension has so much meaning for us. Jesus rose into heaven not to abandon us. He rose into heaven to fill all things with his presence.9 He rose into heaven to give you his word. And just as Jesus is not wimpy, so also his word is not wimpy too.
And it is that word which Jesus attaches to things here on this earth. So then, when death draws near, there is no need for fear. Why? Because Jesus brought us to life through water and word. When we are torn up inside with grief, we will find relief. We will find it where his word is. We will find it in the Lord’s Supper, where Jesus promises to be. Our hymn writers understood this. In one of our communion hymns we sing:10
Though reason cannot understand,
For your consoling supper, Lord,
Notice the point that we so often miss. How do we know that Jesus will comfort us? How do we know that Jesus washed away our sins in baptism? How do we know that Jesus will have compassion on us and forgive our sins in the Lord’s Supper? The answer is God’s word. The same word that Jesus used to breathe life into that dead boy he uses today. He breathes life into us.
On that day, so many years ago there was a showdown. What gives us comfort and strength is that he used the same tool back then as he does today. He uses his word. Let his word be your comfort when living and when dying. Amen.
3 αὕτη ἦν χήρα
4 ἐσπλαγχνίσθη ἐπ᾿ αὐτῇ
5 μὴ κλαῖε
6 νεανίσκε, σοὶ λέγω, ἐγέρθητι.
7 Eph. 2:5, Col. 2:13
8 1Pet. 1:23; James 1:17-18
9 Eph. 1:23
10 CW 312, vss 5, 8