ALL HOPE HAD VANISHED: THEN THE LORD SPOKE LIFE TO DEATH

     

     He had just been at Capernaum. A Roman centurion’s slave was on death’s door. Due to the centurion’s great faith, the Lord Jesus was able to heal the sick man without ever even seeing him.

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         He traveled with His disciples south from the northern environs of the Sea of Galilee through small towns and fishing villages along the west shore and then out across the plane to the southwest. Passing by the 1,886 foot rounded peak of Mount Tabor jutting up obtrusively on the right about six miles east of Nazareth, they continued on past Endor to the south. Arriving at the outskirts of the ancient town of Nain they were soon accompanied by a large party of locals no doubt enthralled by the many wonders and miraculous happenings associated with the Lord.

       However, rather than any expectancy regarding the immediate event in process before them upon entering the town, all parties adopted a hush of respect for the great mourning suddenly in their midst. A lonely, bereft widow had just lost her only son. Just inside the gate of the village, amid the weeping and wailing of mourners, the Lord’s disciples turned attentive caring eyes toward the procession playing out before them—a dead man was being carried on a crude bier in the opposite direction on the way to the hillside tombs within eyeshot close by. Amid the ordered tumult, the Lord’s gaze fell upon the dark-clad grieving woman whose life’s misery was now compounded beyond bearing. Her much crying since the dread event had lapsed into an intolerable somber anguish without any foreseeable remedy during her few remaining years.

         This was her only son, her only begotten son, a dead son of a dead father. What hope was left? If not for this otherwise chance meeting with someone whose life and mission could relate, who had always known His eventual fate and the dreadful effect it would have on His own mother, and who is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” the bedraggled procession would continue onward to the place of death and perpetual remembrance.

          But that was not going to happen. Not this time.

         When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. [Luke 7:13-14a]

        I believe He was weeping when he told the woman to stop weeping. What could she have been thinking? How incredulous she must have been in that brief moment. Do not weep? What? But she followed His movements. No one said a word. He walked over and placed his hand on the coffin. The procession stopped. The usual ongoing heartbreak and pain associated with life in this world stopped. All eyes were upon Him. He acted in such a way that no one had a chance to impede His interruption, as all were likely shocked at what was playing out before them. What is this stranger doing?

         And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother. Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!” [Luke 7:14b-16]   

SPEAKING TO A DEAD MAN

         When something is done, it is done. It is over. This is what we are taught. Life teaches us this, often brutally. Yet the New Testament narratives persist in telling us this is not necessarily true. Are these just a bunch of old stories? Did the Lord actually do all those impossible things? Once one considers such he may as well throw it all out—throw out the New Covenant, throw out the Gospels, throw it all out. It’s either all true or none of it is true. Though many have done this and will never express any real faith in the Lord, others have seen His hand. It may not be as dramatic as the events of this story but are life-changing nonetheless. In many cases it is not the Lord stopping a horrendous event (often because He will not violate human will) but giving us the otherwise impossible strength to deal with it and overcome it. Such is just as viable and powerful.

         For example, though he gave this poor grieving widow her only son back, he did not stop the man from dying in the first place. He did not stop the death of His friend Lazarus. He was notified that Lazarus was sick but purposely waited two days before he headed over there. His sisters suffered great grief. He also did not stop His own death and thus allowed His mother to suffer terribly as a consequence of it. But in all three cases He raised the dead. In two cases he brought great joy to grieving mothers by doing something otherwise impossible.

         Everyone will die. We know the above two guys died twice. But the Lord promises that those who have faith in Him will rise again. There is a resurrection coming for all. Some will be resurrected to eternal life.

         In the meantime it could well be the case that something has died that the Lord wants to resurrect in the here and now. Maybe it’s something that suffered death as a result of spiritual attack and warfare. Maybe it exists in a weakened condition needing a spiritual jolt to live again.

      Whatever is attempted for the Lord will suffer attack. Some attacks are powerful. Sometimes such attacks succeed. It could be that the attack was so potent and soul wrenching that one cannot muster the strength, ability, or desire to fight back effectively. One wonders of how many things the Lord wanted done that never got done due to losing spiritual battles. Sometimes we do fight back but can’t quite get there. We try. We give maximum effort. We exhaust ourselves in the attempt. And we still know we must try again until we finally succeed.

         Regardless of how it all works out or what is supposed to happen, don’t ever forget that the Lord in fact spoke to a dead man. He did it more than once. Imagine the people standing around that heard it. And then, shockingly, the dead man also heard it and actually responded.

         The dead man sat up and began to speak. [Luke 7:15] [1]

         Is there something the Lord may be telling us?

         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on December 4, 2019, in Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. thank you for the reminder that it is ALL true; all the promises fulfilled in Jesus. I am so thankful for Jesus. “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe” “In this day I know that Jesus is in the Father, and I am in Him and He is in me” truly my heart belongs to Christ, our treasure, the riches of God’s glory; there is nothing greater than our God and Father! nothing is impossible with God.
    God bless you RJ

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    • Thank you Yvonne. No one could possibly care more for us than the Lord.

      New research is revealing that Luke’s Gospel was the first of the four. When he began writing he said he had gathered all the extant sources and would write it “in consecutive order.” It is interesting, then, that the two miracles I mentioned in my post happened consecutively.

      It is interesting, and should alert us as readers, because in the first case, at the miracle at Capernaum, (1) The Lord was not even present at the healing, (2) The healing took place for a man at death’s door (an almost resurrection), and (3) It happened because of the great faith of the Roman centurion who dearly loved his dying servant.

      In the second miracle, the Lord traveled several miles to a completely different part of the country. Luke records nothing in between. (1) The Lord is certainly present at the miracle and initiates the action toward it. (2) This time the man is actually dead. (3) The mourning widow clearly loved her only son very much.

      But who possessed the great faith to make it possible? The word faith is not mentioned in the entire passage. The only conclusion is that the woman herself had prayed much and believed God. It was devastating to her that her many prayers went unanswered. Here we have a case in which a loving mother who greatly loved her only son and needed him did everything she should do but the end came anyway.

      It could be that some people also end it there. When the end comes they quit praying and believing. But she apparently never stopped. Her son’s death apparently never had any detrimental effect on her walk with God, on her love for God, or on her faith in God. It was unending dedication to God in the worst of situations that drew God to her. The Lord went directly from Capernaum, a long ways off, to little Nain. He was too late to stop the death. But He was too early for the burial. He arrived in process. He arrived within the small sliver of time when something could still be done. Because of the widow’s great faith, He had great faith to work with.

      I believe this is a story dedicated to all those who never give up their faith and love in God even after the worst of circumstances. They still believe that something apparently dead can come to life again. They know they must maintain their faith because it is the only chance they have. They know the Lord Jesus is always faithful and will always honor our confidence in Him. He will come through. He will make it happen. Sometimes it involves a long time, whether it’s Joseph in prison and slavery for 13 years, the lame man at the Beautiful gate for over 40 years, or the woman with the issue of blood for 12 years. They never gave up. They never stopped doing the only thing they knew to do. Joseph stayed right with God and was eventually raised up. The lame man kept going to the gate his entire life and the day finally came when Spirit-filled Peter and John walked by. The woman with the never ending hemorrhage finally got her chance AND MADE THE MOST OF IT. She would not be denied.

      As you have said, Yvonne, nothing is impossible with God. You have maintained your great love and faith in the Lord when many would have wavered or moved on. As a result, the Door (John 10:9) remains always open to you. Thank you so much for your great joy. Be blessed.

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