NO HEARTACHE IS TOO HOPELESS FOR THE COMPASSIONATE GRACE OF JESUS — WHO ALONE HAS THE POWER OVER EVEN DEATH
J. C. Ryle: Let us never forget this great truth. The world around us is full of sorrow. Sickness, and pain, and infirmity, and poverty, and labor, and trouble, abound on every side. From one end of the world to the other, the history of families is full of lamentation, and weeping, and mourning, and woe. And whence does it all come? Sin is the fountain and root to which all must be traced. There would neither have been tears, nor cares, nor illness, nor deaths, nor funerals in the earth, if there had been no sin. We must bear this state of things patiently. We cannot alter it. We may thank God that there is a remedy in the Gospel, and that this life is not all. But in the meantime, let us lay the blame at the right door. Let us lay the blame on sin.
Steven Cole: Christ’s Hope and Power for a Hurting World
Nineteenth century British preacher Joseph Parker said, “Preach to the suffering, and you will never lack a congregation. There is a broken heart in every pew.”
In such a world, there is a desperate need for a message of true hope to overcome the despair and of real power to overcome our weakness. Sometimes we feel like the guy who saw some light at the end of the tunnel, but then he realized that it was a train coming at him. That is false hope! We need true hope.
The gospel of Jesus Christ offers that true hope and real power to this hurting world.
The life-giving word of Christ is a message of hope and power in a world of despair and weakness.
(:11) PROLOGUE – DIVINELY ORDAINED SETTING
A. When – Had just healed someone who was almost dead
“And it came about soon afterwards,”
B. Where = the Place of Divine Appointment / Divine Purpose
“that He went to a city called Nain;”
Small town SE of Nazareth; name means “beautiful” – something beautiful transpired here
Geldenhuys: a place to the south of Capernaum and about two miles to the west of Endor. It was situated at a high elevation against the slopes of the Little Hermon and still exists today as a small village called Nein. Tombs in the rock have been found before the eastern gate of the village along the road leading to Capernaum.
MacArthur: Nain is about twenty miles from Capernaum. It would be a full day’s walk to walk twenty miles. It was south of Capernaum. It was about six miles southwest of Nazareth so that Capernaum, Nazareth and Nain, kind of in a triangle. It was three miles west of a town called Endor. You remember the witch of Endor. It was a small and very nondescript and insignificant town. By the way, it still exists today with the same name. Two hundred people live there. It was on the slope of some mountains called Little Hermon, near the valley of Jezreel on a hill called Moreh. The other side of that hill had a little town called Shunam where Elijah went to the Shunammite lady. So it was just a little town, nondescript, insignificant. And what’s going on here is that Jesus determines to go to Nain and to drag this huge entourage with Him for this day’s journey.
C. With Whom – Huge Following
“and His disciples were going along with Him,”
Steven Cole: Note how Luke paints the scene: Two large crowds converge. The one crowd was grieving and hopeless. Hired professional mourners would have been wailing loudly. The bereaved mother, wearing torn clothes, would have been walking, probably upon the arms of comforters, in front of the open stretcher bearing the shrouded corpse. It was a hopeless scene.
Enter the second crowd, coming from the opposite direction, following Jesus, the Messiah, who was performing great miracles. The lively chatter and the bright faces would have shown that this crowd had hope. What a sharp contrast between these two crowds! Wherever the Lord Jesus is absent, there is despair in the face of death. Wherever He is present, there is hope.
2. Large Multitude
“accompanied by a large multitude.”
I. (:12) SAD FUNERAL PROCESSION FOR THE WIDOW’S ONLY SON
A. Hopelessness of the Dead Man
“Now as He approached the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out,”
No self-improvement possible here; this man was completely dead; his life was over; about to be buried; This was a funeral procession; probably professional mourners had been hired to help with the lamenting and the weeping and wailing. They were leaving the city to approach the burial grounds. The man was clearly dead.
MacArthur: Small town like this wouldn’t have a wall because there wouldn’t be anything to protect, nobody is going to come in and siege Nain. It’s just a small little town. But they had a gate because the gate symbolized that they had a city. And the gate was at the head of the main street and it was the place where they socialized and where the elders of the city sat and adjudicated on the issues and so it had a gate, sort of a symbolic gate, just sort of identifying the town. Sometimes when you’re driving through a country, in a rural area, you’ll come to a small town and they’ll have some stone pillars on the side with the name of the town. That’s not some wall of protection, that’s just a point of identification. Something like that.
Lenski: The situation that Jesus encountered is sketched effectively so as to let us feel the full pathos of the scene. Jesus, the Prince of life, here meets death, carrying away his helpless prey. Looked at thus, the scene becomes dramatic in a supreme way.
J. Ligon Duncan: In those days, the way a funeral procession worked was, the bereaved person walked in front of the funeral bier, and the bier was actually not much more than a wide plank of wood. There was no closed coffin. It was an open coffin. The body of a deceased person was laid out on that plank of wood, already embalmed to be taken to whatever grave there was to be entombed. And this woman is walking in front of the funeral bier of her son and her son’s wrapped body is on top of that open plank of wood. And she’s weeping, and Jesus walks up to her and says, “Do not weep.”
This would be a cruel word if you could not do anything to alleviate the grief.
B. Anguish of the Mother
“the only son of his mother, and she was a widow;”
She had lost her husband previously and now had lost her only son. She would be bereft of financial resources and possibly reduced to the status of a beggar. This man was very special and precious to her.
C. Grief of the Crowd
“and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her.”
This was a large funeral; the family was well known and probably well-liked; the people felt the pain of this poor widow who was now bereft of her only son.
II. (:13-15) COMPASSIONATE RESTORATION OF LIFE BY JESUS
A. (:13) Jesus Intervenes – His Motivation
1. Heart of Compassion
“And when the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her,”
Some miracles motivated by faith; this one by love and compassion.
First usage by Luke of this name “the Lord”
Lenski: It always designates him in his deity as our Messiah-Ruler in whom we trust, whom we obey, who is the source of our salvation, and whom we worship.
MacArthur: And then, divine purpose and divine providence blends into divine compassion. And you see something in Jesus that is true of God, verse 13, “When Jesus the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her.” That’s just amazing. The verb is splagchnizomai. It’s a funny word. It has to do with feeling something in your gut, you know, you feel emotion and it churns your stomach. It makes your heart beat rapidly. It makes your heart stop sometimes, if you feel something strongly enough, some kind of fear. And that’s how the Jews described affection, feeling, compassion. This is God. One thing is very clear is the distinction of the God of Israel, the true and living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Creator, Redeemer God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the true and living God, is a God of compassion, right? And that against the background of all other deities in the whole history of religion, none of which is compassionate, loving, gracious, forgiving, kind, merciful, tender-hearted. There are no Savior-gods in other religions. There are no gods of love, and tenderness and compassion. This isn’t even a spiritual issue here. This isn’t even about redemption. This is about just plain sympathy with human sadness.
Steven Cole: If we want to be effective witnesses for Christ, then we must ask Him to deepen our compassion for the lost. It has truly been said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. When we show people the compassion of Christ, it often opens their hearts to hear the truth of the gospel. . .
God’s unmerited favor gives us hope. This woman did nothing to merit this miracle. Unlike the centurion in the miracle just preceding (7:4), no one said to Jesus, “This woman is worthy for you to grant this to her.” She did not even ask the Lord to do it. There is no trace of faith or expectation on her part. And there was nothing in the dead young man to merit this miracle. Jesus didn’t say, “What a good looking corpse! I’ve never seen such a fine corpse! I’m going to raise him from the dead.” I don’t care how nicely you dress them up, corpses do not have any merit. This miracle came totally from Christ’s great compassion and love. It was all of grace.
2. Word of Consolation
“and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’”
Must have been strange to receive this command before witnessing the actual miracle itself. (cf. Jesus telling His disciples to “Fear not” before calming the seas.) But it all transpired so quickly that there was no separation between the command the miracle.
It requires the power of God to make this a word of consolation rather than an empty attempt at encouragement
B. (:14) Jesus Initiates – His Interaction
1. Confronts Death
“And He came up”
“and touched the coffin;”
MacArthur: A ceremonially defiling act, normally. Jesus graphically illustrated how impervious He was to such defilements. When He touched the coffin, its defilement did not taint Him; rather, His power immediately dispelled the presence of all death and defilement. This was the first of 3 times Jesus raised people from the dead (cf. 8:49-56; Jn 11:20-44). Verse 22 implies that Christ also raised others who are not specifically mentioned.
J. Ligon Duncan: there is no greater ritual impurity in Israel than to touch a corpse or to touch a thing that a corpse has touched. It does not mean one day of ritual uncleanness. It means seven days of ritual uncleanness and a very elaborate purification ceremony to attend with it. Anything that a corpse touched was declared unclean. If you came into contact with anything that a corpse touched, and then came into contact with another person, they became unclean as well as you. There was no defilement more dramatic than contact with the dead in the ceremonial law of Israel. And here is Jesus, reaching up His hand to touch the funeral bier.
c. Stops the Procession
“and the bearers came to a halt.”
2. Commands Life
“And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise!’”
C. (:15) Jesus Imparts – His Restoration
1. Restoration of Life
“And the dead man sat up, and began to speak.”
Leon Morris: There is nothing elaborate. Jesus simply spoke the word and the miracle took place.
2. Restoration of Relationship
“And Jesus gave him back to his mother.”
Steven Cole: There was an emotional reunion of mother and son. Her tears of grief and sorrow were changed to tears of joy. The fellowship that had ended with his death was restored by his life. The help and support that her son had formerly given was now reinstated. It must have given the Lord Jesus great joy to present this young man alive to his mother.
III. (:16) INCOMPLETE RECOGNITION OF WHO JESUS IS
A. Enough Impact to Inspire Fear
“And fear gripped them all,”
B. Enough Impact to Relate This Event to the Power of God
“and they began glorifying God, saying,”
1. Recognition of Jesus as a Great Prophet
“A great prophet has arisen among us!”
Remember it had been over 400 years since God had visited His people with a prophet.
MacArthur: Here’s what they said, “A great prophet has arisen in us,” en in the Greek. A great prophet has arisen in us? Was Jesus a great prophet? Yes, the greatest prophet that ever lived. Is that true? Yes, but is that not understating the reality? That’s what the Moslems say. That’s what the Mormons say. That’s what the Jehovah’s Witnesses say. That’s what almost everybody would say. “Hey, he was a great preacher.” A great preacher, not the prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15 to 18, prophesied by Moses to be the Messiah. He was “a prophet who rose up from within us.” No. He is the Son of God who came down from above us. It’s that underestimating that is so deadly. They knew God visited, but they didn’t understand that Jesus was God and so they missed the time of their visitation and were judged by God. Sad, a great prophet; it’s an incomplete confession.
2. Recognition of Jesus as Somehow Connecting the Jews to Their God
“and, ‘God has visited His people!’”
Is it easier to forgive sins or to restore health to the lame? How about raising the dead!
Bruce Hurt: literally means to look upon, to go to see, to examine closely, to inspect, to examine the state of affairs of something, to look after or to oversee. The idea of visiting is more than just making a social call. As Hiebert writes “In classical Greek, it was commonly used of visiting the sick, whether by a doctor or a friend.’ In Jewish usage, it commonly denoted to visit with the aim of caring for and supplying the needs of those visited (Job 2:11; Jer. 23:2; Ezek. 34:11; Zech. 11:16; Mt. 25:36, 43). The term implies concern and personal contact with the needy; it involves more than a matter of charity by proxy.”
Visited conveys the sense that God has come to help his people.
Donald Miller: Two Old Testament prophets had restored dead sons to their mothers (I Kings 17:17-24; II Kings 4:18-37). Now God was acting again through a prophet.
The crowd did not grasp the full identity of Jesus at this time.
(:17) EPILOGUE – SPREADING REPUTATION OF JESUS
“And this report concerning Him went out all over Judea, and in all the surrounding district.”
You could not keep a lid on the reporting of this miracle.