When Sorrow Met Hope
Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas
A train speeds down a track and collides with a car compacting it into a small slab of metal. By the way this was a trial and caught on camera? It will be used to show drivers as to what could happen if they carelessly try to beat a train at a railroad crossing. With television cameras rolling a brand new car is accelerated into a concrete wall. Smash! Air bags explode. Crash dummies get the impact. The test is repeated on dozens of new cars. Researchers are trying to learn from the collisions in order to make cars safer for us. From collisions like these lessons are learned.
In our study this morning we are going to look at a collision. It wasn’t a collision between trains or automobiles. Two groups collided at the city gate. Death and sorrow collided with hope and joy.
Scripture: Luke 7:11-17
Sorrow and pain are normal course of human life. The biggest sorrow that life can bring to us is the death of a loved one. There is overwhelming sorrow in a dead house. Jesus while on earth raised 3 people from death: Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, and the widow’s son. Jesus never attended a funeral service. When Jesus met the sorrow he brought hope by raising the dead.
This morning we are going to see some biblical truths from Jesus raising the widow’s son at Nain. We are also going to see how Jesus meets our basic needs.
Let us study this story:
Luke 7:11 11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him.
Soon afterward; that means something happened before this. In Luke 7 Jesus is in Capernaum and a centurion met Jesus asking him to pray for his servant. The centurion was a rich man, had high status in the society, and a man of great faith. The centurion asked Jesus to just say a word and his servant would be healed. Jesus said he has not found such faith in the whole of Israel. Jesus still hears prayers. The centurion asked or prayed by faith and his servant was healed.
Shortly after this we find Jesus traveling toward the city of Nain accompanied by a large crowd. Now, Nain is a day’s journey from Capernaum. The name Nain means “pleasant” or “delightful.”
Luke 7:12 12 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.
As Jesus led his disciples and all those who were following them into the city of Nain they met a very different crowd. The crowd with Jesus was undoubtedly joyful, jubilant, and expectant. Everything was upbeat. But the crowd heading out of town in the opposite direction had a very different frame of mind. The perspective of the other crowd was gloomy and dark. They were mourning the death of a widow’s only son. Jesus was headed for the city, while the mourners were headed for the cemetery outside the city. Both crowds met at the city gate.
In Jewish funeral the women would usually lead the procession, accompanied by great weeping and bands of professional mourners with their flutes and cymbals. Accompanying the body to its burial place was considered a "good work" that any believing Jew could not neglect. Now, the whole town seemed to have turned out to support her in her time of grief.
The body was carried upon a bier. There was no casket. The body would have been wrapped in a burial shroud, the face exposed. They were on their way to the burial grounds outside of town where all their dead were buried.
Luke 7:11-12 11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 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.
Life sometimes gives us bitter pills to swallow.
This young man was already dead. This was actually the funeral procession. We are not told how he died or what caused his death. It could have been an accident or it could have been a disease, but the sad truth is people of all ages die everyday. This is the place at which our hopes also die. When our loved one stops breathing and the heart stops pumping, we say, “That’s it is finished!”
A widow in those days was in a totally vulnerable position if there were no male relatives to protect and provide for her. This particular woman had already lost her husband and now her only son died. Not only was this poor widow mourning the death of her only son but she now is all alone in a society that did not have provisions for the care of widows. As they reach the cemetery the tears and sorrow of this widow is growing more as it was the same place where her dead husband lay.
Jesus has just come from healing the centurion’s servant, but the situation here is far different. “In one scene, there is confident, clear thinking soldier; in the other, a vulnerable widow, drowning in her own turbulent emotions. In one, there is unquestioning faith – “Just say the word and my servant will be healed” (v7) in the other, grief as if there is no tomorrow. In one, there is eloquence and protocol; in the other, unbridled pain and enough tears to melt the hardest heart.
Luke 7:13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry."
Jesus is moved by our needs
When someone goes through pain and loss people usually offer sympathies. Saying to those that are grieving, "God must have had a plan for this, so accept it." Or to hear another say, "It was God’s will and we must live by it." Or still another say, "Somehow God planned this to test your faith!!" Sometimes in our efforts to comfort others we only cause them greater pain. It is also very common for people to tell someone do not cry when their beloved has passed away because crying people makes us uncomfortable. Here Jesus too said do not cry. But Jesus told her not to weep because he was about to turn her tears into a testimony. When someone is in sorrow do not explain why the tragedy has occurred. Perhaps the most useful thing we can do is lend a listening ear and a compassionate shoulder.
As Jesus looked upon this woman he saw that all her hope has gone, a woman who not only was having to stand alone with Death, but also being judged by her own society and people.
Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses.”
Jesus was and continues to be moved by the hurts and sorrows of his people. Notice that all the initiative in this conversation was taken by the Jesus; not in response to faith, not in response to position, but only in response to grief and human need.
Many believe that God will answer you only if you have faith. As much as our God responds to faith, God responds to human needs and sorrow. The centurion had faith, he approached Jesus. God healed his servant. This woman had no faith, she had not approached Jesus, she did not have a big status in the society but when Jesus saw the need of the woman he sympathized with her needs. Jesus is moved by your needs today.
Luke 7:14-15 14 Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
Jesus is able to conquer death.
Understand as I told you earlier this woman absolutely had no faith in Jesus yet Jesus was able to do a miracle. This is one of the biggest miracles Jesus did, rising a dead man to life. This shows the power of Jesus to perform miracles even without human help or faith. This makes my faith firm in Jesus. From this miracle what I understand is if I die today and my body decays, tomorrow when the trumpet sounds even without my presence God can raise me up from the grave.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 16 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
What a meeting that will be! Just like he gave the widow’s loved one, her only son back to her Jesus will give our loved ones back to us and us to them, and forever we shall live together in His presence.
Luke 7:16-17 16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
Jesus deserves our worship.
As a result of this miracle two things happened to the crowd. First - “great fear came upon them all.”
Illustration: An old Army general, veteran of many wars was caught up in a brawl which ended up him being shot in the chest. He was bleeding profusely as he was shot fully unprepared. As men ran to help him, the general had just one phrase, "Call a pastor; I want to be baptized." When he was young and healthy he never thought of baptism. But when he knew his bleeding would cause his death his priorities changed. Now, the one thing he cared about was preparing for eternity. He wanted to be baptized. Thirty minutes later he was dead.
A brush with death changes the way we look at things. If you remember attending any funeral service at least once the thought of what is important in life will go through your mind. You will start thinking about eternity. This is exactly what went through the minds of the people of Nain. The Bible says fear came upon all the people and they praised God.
The Second thing that this miracle caused the people to do was come to the conclusion that “God has come to help his people.” Yes he has! Jesus came into this world to help people, to help you. He knows your needs today even if you do not ask him. The widow never asked him but Jesus helped her anyways. He came to help you to be joyful and be blessed. Jesus also came to help you to live with him after your death. Finally on the cross Jesus went on to defeat death for all time. Jesus came to help you out of hell and go to heaven.
Sorrow met hope in the gates of the city called Nain. Today, you may not have the faith like the centurion, you may not be close to Jesus as was Martha and Mary, you may not have Jesus’ mother to recommend that the wine is over but Jesus knows your need. We all can identify more with the widow of Nain. Secretly you wonder if Jesus hears our prayers and notices your tears. Perhaps you are like the widow, your heart has run out of hope? You need to connect to the source of hope. With Christ there is always hope for your sorrows. Amen.
This sermon belongs to the series Miracles of Jesus. Other sermons in this series: