Devotional # 131. Resurrection Day. 4/6/15. Luke 7:11-17.
Intro. I’m going to interrupt our studies in the book of Philippians (which I don’t do easily) this week to talk about something special. Yesterday was Resurrection Day (sometimes called Easter) and I’ve grown to love celebrating Jesus’ resurrection celebration as much as I love Christmas. I’ve always struggled with the commercialism of Christmas and in more recent years the pagan origins of the day we celebrate. But recognition and rejoicing are definitely due our Savior’s birth.
Resurrection Day has been easier for me to love. For me it meant going to church and then eating a big meal at my grandparents. I didn’t get any presents and it didn’t seem like as big of a deal as Christmas. But I wonder if because I didn’t have the baggage it was easier for me to just grow in my relationship with the Lord and come to love Resurrection Day.
Today’s Devotional is going to focus on a quick story about a teenager that Jesus raises from the dead. Luke is the only one who records it so it’s possible you’ve missed it in the past.
Luke 7:11-17: 11 Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. 12 And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. 16 Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” 17 And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.
vv. 11-12. Not much is known about the town, the people or even the miracle. But notice there were two large crowds: the “disciplesand other peopleattending Christ (v. 11), and a crowd of relations and neighbors attending the funeral of the young man (v. 12). I believe Jesus was traveling a line that would intersect directly with the funeral procession.
v. 12. Here we learn about this poor woman who is already a widow and now she has lost her only son. It must have been heart wrenching for her to lose her son but the bigger picture is that she also had the loss of income, so depending on whether her husband left any money she could end up homeless, having to beg. Many times we go through difficulties that build on each other and we say, “I don’t know if I can hold on much longer” or “Lord, I don’t see your plan in this.” But is Jesus there? Does He have an answer? As we’ll see in the next verse, He does!
v. 13. This is my favorite verse in this section and there are three main reasons. It says, “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her,“Do not weep.”
First, when Luke is telling this story He doesn’t name Jesus but here he calls him “The Lord”. Of everyone in this story no one is named. But “Lord” means master, and when applied to Jesus it follows that He is the Master of one’s heart and life. He’s the only one who speaks in this section because all that matters is what He says. Before we look at what He says, we must ask ‘how does He say it?’
He says it with “compassion”. It’s not just that He has “pity” from the bottom of His heart, but from His stomach* – have you ever felt that ache for someone going through difficulties, from the essence of your being?
So He being “Master”, having this incredible “compassion” for this woman, being the only One who speaks…what is it that He says? What is it that He speaks?
He says, “Do not weep.” Now if Jesus didn’t have the ability to take care of the situation, that would be cruel. You don’t go to a widow, who’s just lost her only son and say, “hey, don’t cry.” But His words, “do not weep”, that compassion, that must have been so uplifting for her. She probably thought, “I’ve heard about this guy, this is Jesus.” Yes, there was still an ache there but there must have been something transacted. And I think this verse has probably been solace for thousands, maybe millions of believers over the millennia.
*“compassion”: In the Greek the word is splagchnizomai (G#4697) and it means “to be moved with compassion as to one’s bowels” (because the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity)” (Source 1).
v. 14. In this verse we see Jesus touch the open casket. In the Hebrew culture you were ceremonially unclean if you touched a coffin or a grave. But Jesus touches the coffin showing that He’s not defiled and beyond that He actually cleanses it…by healing the boy inside! And what are the words He speaks?
I think they are some of the most beautiful words to hear. In my opinion not one of the words are unnecessary but each one has a wealth of riches behind them. He says, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”
Who is Jesus speaking to? Specifically this “young man.” Jesus was focused on this teenager. We’ll cover more of this on the words “to you” below.
Next Jesus says, “I say”. What other power is there?! Just as when God spoke the universe into existence (Genesis 1:3, John 1:3) Jesus speaks life into this young man. Only the Creator can speak to the Creation and have it obey. This miracle can’t be replicated. Even after thousands of years of technological and biomedical advancement we still can’t bring the dead to life.
To who? He says, “To you”. This wasn’t to anyone but the boy. Jesus was only interested in the personal relationship. He didn’t sprinkle magic ferry dust across a crowd. He didn’t have to use a bunch of spices or beg the gods for a miracle. He simply spoke to the individual. We don’t know this teenager’s name but I guarantee you Jesus did. I am constantly amazed at how each person can feel like they are the only child of God that matters! But that’s how God works – somehow we are all His favorite child. If it had only been us on earth He would have died for our sins.
And finally He says, “Arise”! This sounds almost as if the boy had only been sleeping but he had been dead! With this simple word, full of power, the boy comes back to life. In Jesus’ world it was as easy to raise the boy from the dead as it was to wake him from a nap.
vv. 15-16. We find that the boy is in fact raised from the dead and of course “fear came upon all” the crowd. But how do they respond? For once a multitude of people in the Bible get it right. First, “they glorified God” and second they recognized “God has visited His people.”No truer words have been spoken!
When we witness Jesus raising someone out of their old life style of death, we must “glorify God.” When we are hurting and Jesus tells us “Do not weep”, we must “glorify God.” In our normal everyday lives, we must “glorify God.” If Jesus truly is “Lord” and sitting on the throne of our hearts, we must “glorify God.” We do this by giving Him the glory instead of taking credit for how great we are or something we’ve done. We do this when times are tough. We do this in reading the Bible. We do this in sharing Him with others.
They also said, “God has visited His people.” So essentially they were saying, ‘God has come down from heaven and visited us in bodily form in the person of Jesus. Jesus is truly divine and no one knows us better than the Creator Himself and He is standing among us. I can reach out my arm and touch Him. But I better be careful, I might be healed! Be careful I might be raised from the dead! God is truly among us.’
Conclusion. Some make a valid point** that we should call this “resuscitation” because although this teenager was raised from the dead, He would have to die again. The human body can’t last forever. I have a small issue with this because using “resuscitation” makes it sounds as if he wasn’t really medically dead. But I think it brings up a crucial point. The reason we don’t worship the kid that was raised from the dead is because he will die again. The same went for Lazarus. So why do we worship Jesus? Because after He died for our sins when He rose from the dead He never had to die again! He was in His resurrected body that would never change again. If we really think about this story along with knowing that Jesus raised from the dead we are even more comforted then the widow who got her son back. Why?
Because by resurrecting from the dead Jesus proved that He conquered the grave for Himself. If He had just died on the cross for our sins then they wouldn’t be counted against us but we would be at a wash. Our account would be at $0. Great, so we aren’t sent to hell but we can’t get into heaven. But Jesus resurrected and is a testimony that His offer stands. He truly had the power to keep His word and come back from the grave. And after reading this story we see that Jesus does have the power to raise people from the dead! So putting these two together we are assured of the possibility of our salvation. If we have accepted Jesus to be our “Lord”, to have “compassion” on us and if we have “glorified God” in our life then we will go to heaven! To question that fact is to question if Jesus really had the power to raise a person from the dead or for He, Himself to be raised from the dead. We can believe what the Bible says (both on faith and on the witnesses that Luke interviewed for this account from the two huge groups of people that intersected on the day of this miracle) or we can continue to doubt. Never really giving ourselves over to the facts.
Do you remember that I mentioned at the beginning of this Devotional that we don’t know much about this story: the city, the people, the crowds, the things that were spoken by other people? The one sure thing in all of this is Jesus! It’s Him through and through. It’s His words and His actions that give us hope!
Source 1: splagchnizomai (G#4697), (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4697&t=KJV).
Source 2: J. Vernon McGee, Luke, p. 91