Trinity 16, 2012
Audio
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Delivered By
Pr. Lovett
Delivered On
September 23, 2012
Central Passage
Luke 7:11-17
Description

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

 

When our Lord meets the widow of Nain and her dead son, He is on His way to Jerusalem to be sacrificed by the priests as the Lamb of God. He is on His way to meet His own death. But death is eager to threaten our Lord, so death meets Him on His way to Jerusalem; outside the city of Nain. There before our Lord death presents Him with a picture of His fate when He arrives in Jerusalem; like this dead man laid out on a bier in funeral procession; His widowed mother morning the loss of her first-born son.
 
Since she followed her Son around on His journeys, then mostly likely Mary was with Jesus when He met this dead man and his mother outside the city of Nain; especially now that He is headed toward the great feast in Jerusalem. I wonder, as Mary pondered all these things in her heart, if she saw herself in the widow of Nain. Tradition tells us that by this time Mary’s own husband, Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth, the guardian of Jesus, had already died. Mary, too, was a widow. And she loved her Son. She didn’t want to see Him die any more than any other mother; any more than this widow of Nain. I wonder how often she prayed that Jesus would just leave well enough alone and stop angering the authorities. He’s going to get himself killed. Like this man from Nain. Dead. Then were would she be with her husband gone and her eldest Son dead? Like this dead man’s mother: alone.
 
But just as this scene outside of Nain resembles the death of Jesus when He would die and His widowed mother and friends would mourn and weep for Him, so it foretells of our Lord’s compassion even from the cross when He sees Mary and John and says to His weeping mother, “Woman, behold your son!” And to John, “Behold, your mother!”
 
The Lord has compassion. He restores what is destroyed by sin and mends what is broken. He puts the lonely in a family and cares for the widow and the orphan. He has compassion on you. He gives you a mother who will care for you eternally, of whom you are born by water and the Spirit. He gives you sons and daughters to care for you in your old age and pray for you and to provide for you.
The assembly of saints, the Church, is not just a bunch of people who believe in Jesus. We are a people tied together by the blood of Jesus to care for and attend to one another; to carry each other’s load. We are the family of God by whom we are named. So St. Paul says that we are to do good to all people, but especially to those of the household of faith. Look around you. These are your mother and your brothers and sisters. The Lord has had compassion on you and given you sons that won’t die and mothers to care for; a family to love and to be loved by.
 
Here outside of Nain, just like outside of Jerusalem where He is crucified, the Lord restores what was destroyed by sin and mends what was broken and raises what was once dead. The company of the Lord meets the company of death and our Lord comes face to face with the mortality of men. Men like Him. He’s a man with a nature like ours. He is our brother. He is the brother of this dead man from Nain. And as our brother He shares the same fate: death, the common foe of all men. Death isn’t a respecter of persons. Death doesn’t care if you take care of your body or if you don’t. Death doesn’t care that you take multivitamins or have yearly checkups or that you go to the gym. Death doesn’t care that you wear your seat belt or carefully chew your food. Death isn’t impressed that you vote for the right man or that you treat others with respect. Death doesn’t respect you. Death doesn’t listen to your pleas for life. Death has no mercy.
 
But the Lord has compassion. If death is the enemy of men, then the man of God is the enemy of death. Because the man of God forgives sins and so undoes death. He is the end of death for in Him is the life of all men. His words are life.
 
But death is bold and brazen. It takes our children and our parents. It takes our best friends and even the only sons of widows. And it flaunts it in our face. “Look here,” says death as we gather at the funerals of friends and loved ones. “Look here and see your future. This awaits you. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, this is your end. Look at the grieving widows and widowers; the grieving sons and daughters and friends. They can do nothing for you but bury you.”
 
Death once thought to be so bold and brazen in the face of our Lord, too. “Look here,” said death to the Son of Mary, “Look here, this is you in a few weeks. You’re on your way to Jerusalem to die. This is what it looks like. Look at the now son-less widow with no one to care for her. That will be your blessed mother, too. Look at the friends mourning this man’s death, yet are unable to do anything about it.  Look here, O man of God, and see your cold future.”
 
Only Jesus isn’t listening to death. He is listening to His Father. The Father gives life and so the Son gives life. Jesus doesn’t speak to death. He doesn’t rebuke death like He speaks to and rebukes the demons. That’s because there is nothing to speak to, nothing to rebuke. Death is nothing. Jesus is everything. He speaks to the widow: “Do not weep.” He speaks to the young man from Nain: “Arise.” The widow’s weeping turns to rejoicing and the once-dead son sits up and speaks! Here is a true picture of our future! Not dead on a funeral bier, but alive and speaking amidst the shouts of rejoicing!
 
Outside the city of Nain the company of death met the company of life, the company of our Lord, and He overcame and undid death and restored what had been destroyed and minded what has been broken. That’s what’s happening here. That’s what’s happening right here. Not outside the city of Nain, but outside the cities of Hoisington, Great Bend, Claflin, Otis, Galatia. and all the cities of men. Here the company of the dead has come out of the city and the Lord has met us here.
 
You and I are the company of the dead. The children of men destined to go the way of all flesh; grass for the oven, racked with disease and failing bodies, always worried about tomorrow, that it might bring our demise or the demise of our loved ones. Better not to think about it. Which is why we don’t like funerals and why we paint our dead to look like the living. That’s why we prefer celebrations of life, as they are called, rather than admitting that the wages of sin is evident in the caskets of the dead and the grave yards littered with stones. We have buried our loved ones and have mourned the loss of our friends.
 
But coming from the opposite direction is the author of life. How providential that we enter this house of prayer from back there, through those doors, coming from one direction, coming from the cities of men, but the Lord comes from the opposite direction. He doesn’t enter through doors but passes through walls. He comes from the heavenly places through bread and wine and by His Word. He meets us here and stops the procession of the dead, and has compassion. He is the life of the world and He gives eternal life.
 
The Lord of life meets us between heaven and earth and turns us from the grave to glory, from death to life, from burial to resurrection. He says to our widows, “Do not weep,” and to our sons and daughters, “Arise!” By the word of the Lord we are joined to the company of the living with the saints of God, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, lauding and magnifying His glorious name, shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David, hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
 
When the company of the dead meets the company of the Lord, the Lord does not rebuke death. He doesn’t speak to death. He’s not looking at death. He’s looking at you. He speaks to you. “Take, eat; this is my body given for you. Take, drink; this is my blood shed for you that you would have life.” Here the Lord of life meets the procession of dead men and speaks so that they live.
 
Your body may well die. You may well bury more loved ones and be buried by your loved ones. You may get bad news from doctors. But the Physician of Life has good news. You will live again. You will see the sun of righteousness shining down on you. You will feel the warmth of the sun of mercy warming your flesh. You will again see one another face to face.
 
In Nomine Iesu
+ Amen +