Miracle of Nain

Miracle of Nain

Scripture: Luke 11:17
Date: 07/30/2011 
The Lord knows how we feel and has compassion on us. He can give us a better life now, and joy and hope for the future.

God's Wisdom for Your Every Need (Deluxe Edition) by Jack Countryman

God's Wisdom for Your Every Need (Deluxe Edition) by Jack Countryman
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Our message this morning is dealing with a story that only appears one time in the Gospels. We just heard it read in our scripture reading. It’s not too hard to remember 7-11 is it? Luke chapter 7, verse 11 through 17 and those are going to be the verses we’re going to consider. Now in my time in ministry, I have never preached a message entirely on this passage and I wonder why, because there’s an awful lot here that I find encouraging and also instructional. Sometimes this story is commonly known as the story of the Widow of Nain or the Miracle of Nain and it starts out a very sad funeral procession. Fortunately it doesn’t have a sad ending. You know, when you think about funeral processions they are solemn times. You maybe have been driving your car up the street and you might see the escorts or they might be security or police escorts and they stop the traffic and it’s something of a solemn moment when you see all that line of cars in a procession with their lights on and it just sort of gives us pause about what the end of all men is. One of the most interesting funeral processions in history actually happened with the remains of David Livingstone.

When that famous missionary – almost as much an explorer as a missionary. He did a lot more, really, to open up the way for other missionaries by his explorations in Africa. He traveled about 27,000 miles – most of it on foot – in his adventures and he was greatly beloved by the natives there. When he died, in the region of Lake Victoria, they found him at night, on his knees, with his Bible open - died reading the Word – used to read the Word on his knees. He had been struggling with malaria for years. They wanted to bring his body back – you know he taught them that man is made in God’s image and they wanted to honor his remains and bring them back to his family – to his people. So they buried his heart in Africa because that’s where his heart was. They embalmed his body with salt, set it out in the sun for 14 days, wrapped it up in the leaves of a tree – I can’t repeat the name of the tree – then wrapped that up in sail cloth with rope, stuck a long pole through the sail cloth and then two of his friends – you’d have to be really good friends – Chuma and Susi – commenced then to carry his body by hand 900 miles – about 1,000 miles, actually, to the British Council in Zanzibar. It took them eleven months and they probably had blisters or callouses on their shoulders from that pole. It probably wasn’t very heavy after he’d been mummified, but that’s still a lot of commitment to a friend.

The British Council couldn’t believe it when they first heard these are the remains of David Livingstone and they unwrapped the parcel and they saw the mummy with the scar on the shoulder – Livingstone had been attacked by a lion during his life and badly mauled and survived it. They saw the mauled left arm and they said, ‘Sure enough’ and wrapped it back up, put it on a ship. Susi accompanied his remains all the way to England, London virtually came to a standstill as that procession finally culminated with a great funeral service where the King of England was there as all of his family, a number of dignitaries, as well as Robert Moffat, the aged missionary. David Livingstone had married his daughter. Moffat was the one who had first invited him to go to the mission field about 50 years earlier. He was still alive at that time. Now that is not the longest funeral procession. To find the longest funeral procession, you actually find that in the Bible. It’s when the children of Israel – I guess you could say maybe it wasn’t a funeral procession, but they did carry a mummy. They carried the remains of Joseph for 40 years, hundreds of miles during their wanderings because Joseph told them – you remember the end of Genesis – Genesis 50, verse 25, “and Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, ‘God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.’ And all through that time that they were still in Egypt, all through the wilderness wanderings they had, it was a funeral procession.

They had the mummy of Joseph being carried with them during that time. Even during the time of Joshua when they first fought their battles and they went into the promised land, as they advanced, they continued to advance bringing the remains of Joseph back to Shechem where he was buried. Matter of fact, the book of Genesis – that starts in a garden – it ends with the five words, ‘…in a coffin in Egypt.’ Since we’re all under a death sentence, this world is something of a Lazar House. It’s like a funeral procession – from the time we’re born – ‘He that has the son has life. Without the son you don’t have life and we’re just marching towards the grave.’ The story that we’re looking at this morning is the collision of two processions. So we’ll look at it again. Luke chapter 7, verse 11, “And it came to pass the day after,” – now this is the day after Jesus has performed the miracle of healing the servant of the centurion – the Roman centurion. He then makes a journey toward the city of Nain. Now I like maps – I’m a visual person so I put a couple of maps up on the screen for you so you can get the logistics, in your mind, of where Nain was. It was in the northern area of Israel around Galilee and it’s actually a little bit – you look where Nazareth is – and I’ve got another map there that gets a little closer. You can see it better. See the Sea of Galilee – you see a purple line – that’s where Jesus would travel to Nazareth.

There’s a green line there at the bottom of the screen - and that’s about a 20-mile journey. Jesus went from Capernaum, where He had healed the centurion’s servant, by foot he traveled 20 miles to the city of Nain. This is the only time that city appears in the Bible. Now we’ll say a little bit more about it. The word ‘Nain’ probably means ‘beauty’ or ‘pleasant’ or ‘pleasantness’. It was a beautiful town or city. It wasn’t a big fortified city like Jerusalem or Jericho, but it was a big enough city to have gates. Gates in those cities weren’t really meant to keep an army out, they were pretty much meant to keep the cattle out because it was a farming city – or farming community. They had a beautiful view from the city of the valley of Jezreel, so that’s why it was called pleasant or beautiful. And I’ll say more about what the name might have meant. The word ‘Nain’ may be kind of an English corruption of the real name, which was Naim – N-a-m-e – or N-a-i-m, which was taken from Shunem. Now you remember that wise Shunammite woman? She built a little cottage on her roof for Elisha. And you remember the beautiful Shunammite woman called Abishag, that cuddled David in his old age. And in the Song of Solomon it talks about this beautiful Shunammite.

They’re supposed to be a beautiful wise people that lived in this region up there, but it may have been the same city and later is was shortened to Naim instead of Shunem, so it could be the same town that we’re talking about – we call it ‘Nain’ as opposed to ‘Naim’. But it was about four miles from Mount Tabor on a hillside – beautiful vista. Jesus went there and as He approached the city, Christ was not alone. Now He’d been performing miracles around Galilee – feeding multitudes, multiplying the bread, healing the sick and His crowds were growing. People, now, did not want to let Jesus out of their sight. He tried to ditch the crowd at one point when He sent them away and He crossed the sea during the storm, but when He landed they found Him again and the crowd swelled even more as He taught them and healed and performed the miracles. So when He says, ‘I need to continue to go through the northern territory’ or the cities around Galilee, He’s got a great crowd that is following Him. So here is this procession that is filled with excitement and enthusiasm and anticipation – being led by the only beloved, begotten Son of God, and they run into – as they’re coming to this pleasant town – it was supposed to be a pleasant town – but they have been overcome with a great tragedy. And you’ve got these two great companies. “Much people” – it says, you notice?

With Jesus - and then it talks about this other group and it says, ‘there are much people in this crowd.’ So you’ve got these two processions: one filled with excitement, anticipation, enthusiasm, joy – because the Son of God is in their midst – great power. And then there’s another procession – and who usually goes – in a funeral procession, what usually goes out front? It’s the hearse. That’s an old tradition. And even when they carried the bodies in a procession back then – they called it a bier or a coffin – they usually had four men that would carry the body on a mat and maybe a primitive coffin there, but it was always open in Jewish tradition. Cemeteries, in Jewish tradition, were located outside the cities because they believed the dead were unclean. There’s only a couple of exceptions. David they decided to bury inside Jerusalem and if you go visit Jerusalem today you’ll still find the tomb of David inside the city of Jerusalem. Otherwise, if you’re not a king – because the dead are unclean – they always buried them outside the city, usually on some high ground somewhere for drainage, usually facing East. One of the most expensive cemeteries in the world is on the Mount of Olives.

If you ever see the Mount of Olives, it’s covered – it’s riddled with these little boxes. They’re all tombs of the Jews. They’re facing East in anticipation of the day when the Messiah would come, traditionally from the East, His feet would touch the Mount of Olives, every Jew wants to be buried on the Mount of Olives where the Messiah’s feet will touch. But, you know, even in America we’ve adopted that. Where do most cemeteries bury people – look at the tombstones, where are they facing? They’re usually facing the East. Some might say it’s sun worship, but I’d like to believe it comes from the biblical tradition that small cloud will arise out of the? East – that’s the harbinger of the second coming of Jesus. So they’re taking this boy who died out of the city and there’s these two great groups. Now, can you imagine? That was probably a little bit of an awkward situation. You’ve got this one procession and they’re excited and they see, you know, Jesus is in their midst and they’re wondering when He’s going to announce that He’s the new king of Israel. And then they’re approaching this city called Nain – beautiful, pleasant city and coming out of the gates there’s another procession. Now how do you usually act if you encounter a funeral procession? Don’t you pause and let them pass?

As a pastor you’re involved in a lot of funerals and you know what the protocol is and you get in the line of cars and you turn on your lights and you’re following the hearse and all the other traffic – even if the lights change – are supposed to give way so your procession can stay together from the church to the grave. And it’s always really rude if people decide, ‘Oh, I don’t care if it’s a funeral’ and they interrupt or intersect or drive through the middle of a funeral procession. Usually you halt out of respect – you wait – people take off their hats – at least they used to. Any of you remember those days? Well, what’s going to happen? Which procession is going to give way to which? This is a very interesting story filled with a lot of drama if you were there. Now it tells us that this is a very sad experience that day. Christ is moved with compassion when He sees what’s happening. In the course of life, so far, with a few very rare exceptions – namely Elijah and Enoch – there’s a hundred percent death rate and if the Lord tarries I can predict your future. You’ll eventually die. We don’t like to think about it. It’s not a happy thought. And as Christ was approaching that procession, people were thinking about that. But this was especially – I mean, it’s not unusual. Jesus, I’m sure, saw funerals in His day, but this was especially difficult. Now, if you live, chances are, statistically, you’ll have to bury your parents.

Typically you’re younger than your parents, right? Unless your father’s like mine and he marries someone younger than you. But typically – and if time goes by and you’re married, someday you may have to bury your spouse. Typically the women outlive the men – not always. It’s especially sad when you lose someone you love. You’ll, someday, go to the gravesite of a friend and that’s really hard. Hopefully, when you bury your spouse, it is the gravesite of a friend and it’s really difficult. But the hardest thing and the longest ride to the cemetery is when you’re following your child. Take my word for it. And back in a Hebrew economy, if you are following your only child, and it’s the boy – not that girls are worth less, but the property was typically transferred through the son and the men did the work and it would leave you in very dire straits hoping for someone else to take you in. The whole city felt compassion for this woman – they knew her. Her husband was gone. She’s a widow. She’s got one son, a young man. The word here kind of talks about he’s either a teenager – he’s a young man or in his early 20s – some sickness or accident out of the ordinary overtook him and it was a terrible tragedy. The whole town comes to give their support. Four friends are carrying the body – it’s open – they’re on the way to the grave. Not far behind the body is this mother who is absolutely devastated. This is a catastrophe. They are weeping.

Nobody needs to be paid to weep like a hired mourner. They are very naturally sad. It is a very, very sad occasion. This mother has lost everything and Jesus sees it and because Christ is who He is, He is moved with compassion and the way that comes across in the Greek – His heart goes out of Himself to her. Not just her, His heart goes out and He feels what the crowd is feeling. Now stay with me for a moment – and this always helped me. When this truth finally came to me, it actually changed me. Stay with me here. Do you believe that God is all-knowing? God knows everything. He’s omniscient. We all know He’s all-powerful and we know about God’s omnipresence, but think about His all-knowingness. I’d like to add something to those three omni words – omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (he’s everywhere), omniscient (all-knowing), and here it is: omnipathic. Now I didn’t make that up, I heard it from someone else and it really made me think. God feels everything.

When you’re going through a hard time, any good politician will tell you he feels your pain, but we have doubts, don’t we? But if God knows everything – if the pastor preaches a little past noon – anyone checking their watch? And your stomach growls – mine’s growling – does God feel that? Does He? Or if your feelings are hurt? When the child is hurt – you read these things in the news – it happened again this week – you just hear these horrific things that people do to their kids. Does God feel that? Does He see it? Does the Lord know when the sparrow is hungry or when it falls? Does the Lord know? And I don’t want to sound like a pantheist so be careful. But because God knows everything – stay with me. When you pet the head of your pooch and it wags its tail because it’s happy for a little attention, does God know how that dog feels? Any suffering or joy that is experienced in the universe, God feels. Anything that you do to cause pain or relieve pain, Christ meant it when He said ‘In as much as you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to Me’ – because He feels it. He is aware. This is what I’m saying, because He’s all-knowing, God is aware of every sensation of pain or joy in the world, isn’t He? God came to give us abundant life. He wants us to have an abundant life. When the Lord sees someone sad, it hurts Him.

When He sees a whole parade of grieving people, how do you think He feels? Because He can die for the sin of the whole world, He also feels the pain of the whole world and Jesus felt the sadness of that whole parade and He was moved with compassion. He thought, ‘Oh, I can’t let this go on.’ He had to do something about it. Now compassion is different from pity. We’re all pretty good at pity. We’re not as good at compassion. If you drive by someone on the road and they’ve got the hood up on their car – they’re pulled over – and you kind of ‘Tsk tsk – that’s a shame. Boy that’s awful. A hot day like this. Water boiled out?’ That’s pity. Or you see that their car’s jacked up and they’ve got a flat tire and a flat spare and you go, ‘Boy, that’s awful. Ought to do better car maintenance’ – as you drive by. That’s pity or maybe not even pity. What’s compassion? It’s pulling over to do something. It’s feeling something where you are in sympathy. That’s where you are in sympathy – that’s where you get the word pathos – sympathy, compassion – pathos. Jesus feels our suffering and He wants to do something about it. Did He do something about our dilemma with sin?

Did He just look down from the heavens and wag his head and say, ‘Those silly humans. How sad.’ Or did He come down and do something? Did He drive by or did He pull over? He had compassion and He approached the crowd. And I suppose as the two processions drew close to each other everybody was wondering what was going to happen. Jesus comes up and He’s the leader of one procession and carried out in front is this only son of the woman and Christ calls out to the whole crowd, “Weep not.” Now why would you not – why would you tell the people not to weep? Why would He command them to feel better while the boy is still dead and they have every reason to grieve? Can we act in faith on Christ’s word before we experience a change? You notice Jesus tells them how to feel before He changes their circumstances. Faith in Christ’s word and obeying Christ’s word opens the way to a change in circumstances. The Bible often works this way. God names Abraham – he goes from Abram to Abraham – He calls him father of a multitude before or after he has a son? Before he’s the father of a multitude He gives him a different name. Abraham believed God and God counted it unto him for righteousness, then God answered the prayer and performed the miracle.

When God makes promises to you in His word, claim the promises by faith – then you open the way for the fulfillment. Everybody’s wailing, they’re playing their instruments, they’re weeping, they’re crying, the mother is genuinely sobbing – she’s probably in shock – and Jesus says, ‘Weep not’ and all of a sudden this din of grieving dies out. After they obeyed His word He prepares to do a miracle. Now can the Lord tell us not to sorrow now? Is there plenty in the world to sorrow about? I mean, not just the death and the funerals – there’s plenty of sadness in the world. There’s all the death from sin – people who are dead in trespasses and sin. But 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says if you’re a believer you do not sorrow as those who have no hope. Christians should not sorrow like everybody else. Why? Because we’ve got hope. Jeremiah 31:17 – maybe you’re sorrowing for a son or a daughter that is dead in trespasses and sin and it may be your only son or daughter. It says here, “There is hope in your future, says the Lord, that your children shall come back to their own border.” Are there promises in God regarding our children that we can claim?

The Lord says, ‘weep not.’ Revelation 21:4, God promises a day is coming when He is going to wipe away all tears from our eyes. We can feel better just knowing that God’s got a big hanky He’s going to help us with in the future, right? He’ll wipe away all tears, there will be – there’s a day there will be “no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” I find comfort now, before that day comes, because of that promise. So when Jesus said to that parade of sadness, ‘Do not weep’ they could listen to it before He had even done anything. Jesus also said in Luke the previous chapter, ‘Blessed’ – matter of fact, it’s in Luke 6 just before Luke 7 – Luke 6:21, “Blessed are you who weep” – or mourn – “now, for you shall laugh.” Don’t forget that verse, it comes true before this chapter’s over. Then He approaches – after He stops the whole parade – they stop and He says, ‘Weep not.’ He walks right up to this coffin – now they used to carry it on poles because, first of all, you could not touch the dead without being defiled, especially a priest. Matter of fact - a priest - you know, you think a pastor was qualified – a priest was not to defile himself with the dead except under a couple of circumstances: it had to be his parents, his brother, his spouse, his child – he could not even defile himself by being involved in embalming his sister if she was married. Other people had to do that because a priest was holy. He wasn’t supposed to become unclean and so it was very rigid. Now Christ is the High Priest. He now approaches this coffin that was being carried on poles so that the bearers are not rendered unclean and He reaches out and He touches the coffin. Now one of two things happens: whenever Christ touched someone unclean, either they became clean or you’d think He’d become unclean.

When you touch somebody that’s contaminated with leprosy the leper doesn’t have to worry, does he? You do. Disease tends to spread, but something about Jesus – He reversed the flow where it went backwards. Instead of Him being contaminated, He sent life and cleansing. When He touched disease, He sent healing. When He touched sorrow, He sent joy. When He touched death, He sent life, didn’t He? Christ – when you touch Christ, what He has flows out to us because He took all of our badness in Himself. He took our death. He took our sickness. He took our sadness. So He trades – it’s kind of like two hoses running opposite directions. He gives us, flowing in one tube, His power and life and goodness, and then He took our sickness, sin and death and misery to Himself. He touched the coffin and then He spoke and He said, ‘I say unto thee, ‘Arise.’’ And as soon as He spoke those words, a miracle took place. What authority does He have to do that? Revelation 1:18 Jesus said, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys” – death is a prison. Jesus said, ‘I’ve got the keys.’ I mean, not too many of us have seen somebody come out of the grave.

Jesus said, ‘I’ve got the keys to the grave.’ You don’t have to be afraid of death if you know that He’s got the keys. You’ve got to put a lot of faith in somebody when you put your life in their hands. You’ve got to put a lot of faith in somebody when you put your death in their hands. You can put your death in Jesus’ hands because He’s got the keys. It says he sat up and he talked. Now I would be talking too. What would you say if you woke up at your funeral? Can you imagine the kind of things that this young man said? He sits up and he collects his scruples and he goes, ‘What’s happening here?’ I don’t think that God automatically gave him omniscience where he knew what was going on and he might have looked around and said, ‘What’s the party? What’s going on?’ You’ve got this great crowd – Jesus’ great crowd and the great crowd at his funeral. He probably was a little confused. Now this is a true story. It happened last week in South Africa. Did some of you read about this? A man woke up in a morgue – here it is. What a nightmare. This is quoting the BBC news. “After a 50-year-old South African man stirred from his 21-hour slumber, he found himself in a morgue fridge. He screamed for help and later asked the undertakers who pulled him out, ‘How did I get here?’ Good question. After the man, whose identity had not be released, suffered an asthma attack he was presumed dead.

Family members, without getting the doctor, they called the local mortician who did a summary investigation and there was no pulse, zipped him up – and evidently didn’t zip the bag all the way – put him on the trolley, rolled him into this massive refrigerator in the morgue. He stayed asleep for 21 hours and then he woke up in the dark very cold.” – They laid his corpse on a trolley – “The morgue owner, Ayanda Molaku, who had examined the corpse by checking the pulse and searching for a heartbeat, told the AP news, ‘There was nothing.’” – Look, when I’m gone – Honey where are you at? Get a doctor to double check. My brother told me, he said, “When I’ve died you cremate me.’ He says, ‘I have nightmares about waking up in a coffin.’ He was so afraid of that. “He began to scream. He was zipped up in a body bag, locked in a refrigerator compartment for one day before morgue staffers heard him shouting from his icy quarters. The staffers were terrified at the voice.

They thought it was a ghost and fled the building. ‘I couldn’t believe it.’ said Mokolo, ‘I was so scared.’ After they returned and they called police they entered the fridge to find a man, who was already a grandfather” – he was in his early 50s – “alive and though shivering and he was obviously shaken. He screamed for help and made, according to the keeper of the morgue, an almighty din in the morgue.” – You know what that means – an almighty din? That means quite a ruckus. I would too, wouldn’t you? You wake up and you’re on this freezing trolley and you’re trying to figure out where you are and you’re feeling around and you feel another body on another trolley. I’d be screaming and shouting too. – “The man was treated for hypothermia and dehydration at a nearby hospital. The doctors later deemed he was stable and he’s now recovering at home.” And probably filling out some papers to make sure that never happens again. This young man woke up at his funeral and he began to talk. Now, when you’ve been resurrected for Christ – I read Matthew Henry said in his commentary, “The first thing you want to do is speak for Christ.” You speak a new kind of language when you’ve been raised by Jesus. Whenever Christ gives us spiritual life, he opens the lips in prayer and praise and testimony. This man woke up and he began to speak and when the people saw that, there was quite a bit of praise among the people.

It probably took a while for this to settle in. I mean, can you imagine when Jesus first came and the commotion stopped and He said, ‘Don’t weep’ and He went up and He touched the pall bearers and they stopped and I imagine maybe, at His look, they set the body down on the ground and then Jesus said, ‘I say to you ‘Arise.’’ And he sat up and began talking. Matter of fact, I’ve got a quote of this from the book ‘Desire of Ages’. There’s a chapter that deals with this. I won’t read it all, “In clear authoritative voice the words are spoken, ‘Young man, I say unto thee, ‘Arise.’” By the way, there’s a story in the Bible of Jesus rising a young lady to life – Tabitha – and His rising a young man. You know, the most important time for a person to accept Christ is in their youth – especially in the teenage years when their brains are developed and they can understand what the gospel is all about. They’ve reached the age of accountability where you don’t want them dying lost and yet their minds are still pliable and moldable enough where they can take on a new life. He did it for a young man. He did it for a young lady then. He can still do it today. He said, “Young man, I say unto thee, ‘Arise.’

That voice pierces the ears of the dead. The young man opens his eyes. The glassy look of the dead is gone. Jesus takes him by the hand and lifts him up” – helps him up out of his coffin – “His gaze falls on her who had been weeping beside him and mother and son unite in a long, clinging, joyous” – probably terrified – “embrace.” - No matter how excited you are, you must be in shock. - I threw that in. “The multitude look on in silence as if spellbound. There came a fear on all. Hushed and reverent they stood.” – Both groups – the group following Jesus and the funeral procession – “They stood for a little time as if in the very presence of God. Then they glorified God saying, ‘A great prophet is risen up among us and God has visited His people. The funeral train returned to Nain as a triumphal procession and this rumor of him went forth throughout all Judea and throughout all the region round about. He who stood beside the sorrowing mother at the gate of Nain watches with every mourning one beside the coffin. He is touched with sympathy for our grief. His heart, that loved and pitied, is a heart of unchangeable tenderness. His word, that called the dead to life” – listen to this – “is no less efficacious now than when He spoke to the young man of Nain. He says, ‘All power is given unto me in Heaven and in Earth.’” That’s the last words of Jesus when He ascended to Heaven – Matthew 28.

It has not changed since 2,000 years ago when Jesus performed this miracle. That word that could speak life into the dead can still speak life into the dead today and I’m not just talking about a resurrection. To me, the bigger miracle is when He can change a heart. When He can take somebody who’s dead in trespasses and sins, change their habits, break off the clouds of depression and lostness that they feel and give them hope and life. That’s a miracle. And He can take their life that has been like a funeral procession and turn it into a triumphal procession. He can do that today. “To all who believe on Him, He is still a living Savior. Satan cannot hold the dead in his grasp” – spiritually or physically dead – “when the Son of God bids them live. He cannot hold in spiritual death one soul who, in faith, receives Christ’s word of power. God is saying to all who are dead in sin, ‘Awake thou that sleepest. Arise from the dead.’ That word is eternal life. As the word of God that bade the first man live still gives us life, as Christ’s word, ‘Young man, I say unto you, ‘Arise.’’ gave life to the youth of Nain, so that word, ‘Arise from the dead’ is life to the soul that receives it. God has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear son. Colossians 1:13. It is all offered to us in His word. If we receive the word we have deliverance.”

By the way, that’s ‘Desire of Ages’ page 319-320. That same miracle that He performed at Nain back there then, for that mother, He can perform today. Now I sometimes like to bring out some of the spiritual analogies and I wouldn’t take it too far, but I always think about these things. What does a woman sometimes represent in biblical symbols? You’ve heard me ask that question a thousand times, haven’t you? So any member here knows it’s a church. ‘Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the church.’ Got an interesting story in the Bible – Mark chapter 5 – a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years touches Jesus – spent everything on doctors, was no better only grew worse – touches Jesus. In faith she’s healed. Jesus, from that experience, walks into the home of a 12-year-old girl who was dead, touches her – she comes to life. I kind of see in that scenario you’ve got the woman of the Old Testament – sacrificial system – continual flow of blood – meets its fulfillment by touching Jesus.

The woman of the New Testament – that 12-year-old girl – Jesus touches her, she is healed. She gets up, and she eats and has new life. Here you’ve got a city – a whole city that should be pleasantness – a whole city that should be beautiful and it’s mourning the death of an only son. You know, when Jesus died ‘God so loved the world He sent His only begotten Son – I think it’s important when you’ve got the story of an only son – the church looked dead but the word of God spoke life and that young man, who was a type of Christ in this story, he gets up and what does he do? He speaks. Jesus rose from the dead and He went around teaching and meeting among His disciples for forty days. There’s just sort of an analogy in there that I see. If you don’t see it, that’s okay. I sometimes look at these things and I realize when I get to Heaven the Lord is going to say, ‘Dougie, you were too spiritual. You took these stories too far.’ But I’m always looking for what that secondary meaning is. The one thing that you can’t miss in this story is the good news about this only son that came to life. It reminds us of another only son. There’s a prophecy about Jesus. God sending His only Son turns the funeral procession in this world – it can turn it into a triumph someday.

Will there be a triumphal group that leaves this planet with Jesus out in front, the only Son? Zechariah 12:10, “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace of supplication; then they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son.” In the Bible, there was no mourning greater – at a funeral – than the mourning for a son or an only son. Do you remember the prayer of David when Absalom died? ‘O my son Absalom - my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee.’ This prophecy here about mourning like one who mourned for his only son – what kind of love would it take if the greatest mourning would be the loss of an only son – for God to so love the world that He would send His only begotten son? This parade coming out of Nain that is just the most concentrated mourning you can imagine, represents the greatest pain. And then for God to say, ‘I so love you that I am willing to sacrifice My only Son that this world might be forgiven – that you might be forgiven.’ That’s a lot of love, isn’t it? That He’d care for us that much. That’s the message in this story. Don’t miss that word – the only son.

God loves us like that. Job 33:24, “Then He is gracious unto him, and saith, ‘Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.” Think about that procession that went out of the gates of Nain. They went out of beautiful – away from beautiful – towards a cemetery. They ran into Jesus. They heard the words of Jesus. He turned them around, sent them back into the city a whole different kind of procession. There was a collision of two processions that day. One was a group around Christ – that’s representing the church – came to the world that once was a paradise but full of sin and death and when they heard the word of God both processions entered the city together, rejoicing. And I expect that the people of Nain gave Jesus a discount at the hotel that evening, don’t you? I think they treated Him pretty good in the town that day when He went back through the gates. Though they went out weeping, bearing precious seed, they came back again rejoicing bringing in the sheaves with them. That’s a story of the Bible.

I read once about a newspaper reporter and someone had asked him to conduct a funeral. Well, he had no experiences on funerals so he thought, ‘Well, I’ll look in the Bible and find out how Jesus did it.’ And He went in the Bible and he found out Jesus wasn’t very good at funerals, all He did was resurrections. And that’s still true today. Jesus can do a resurrection in your life. When you accept God’s only beloved Son that was sent in this world for you, He can turn your mourning into rejoicing. He can take the death that you might have in your life and turn it around and make it life – eternal life. Would you like to have that? You know you can ask Him. Maybe you’ve had – your life has been a funeral procession. Maybe you’ve had a lot of sadness in your life and you’re looking for someone who has compassion – for someone who cares. You know, the Lord, He has that real compassion. He feels what we feel. He cares about us.

A little girl was sent on an errand by her mother. She was late in coming home. Finally when she did come home, the mother said, ‘What took you so long?’ She said, ‘On the way home I met another little girl and her doll was broken and she was crying.’ And the mother said, ‘That’s nice. You stopped to help her fix the doll?’ She said, ‘No, I stopped to help her cry.’ That’s compassion, isn’t it? Jesus knows how you feel, friends, doesn’t He? He feels everything that you feel. He knows it better than you know it and He wants to turn your sorrow into joy. It comes from listening to Him say, ‘Weep not.’ By inviting that only Son into your life He can give you new life now and a better life now and joy and hope for the future. So you don’t need to sorrow as those that have no hope. We’ve got a song that we’re going to sing - #181 – ‘Does Jesus Care?’ What’s the answer, friends? Do you believe that? Let’s stand together and we’ll sing it.

(MUSIC)

Not only does the Lord want us to know that He has compassion on us, He wants us to share that compassion with others, right? And that doesn’t mean forcing compassion on somebody who may not need it, it means people who are really looking. There’s a lot of people out there that need comfort – that need encouragement. We meet them every day, don’t we friends? We not only want to know that Jesus cares in our life, but we want to pass that on. Is that your desire? Okay, let’s sing verse 2 together.

(MUSIC)

Before we sing the last verse, some of you here today may be feeling like you’ve been in that procession – you’ve been bearing about some great burden of sorrow and you want to lay it down at Jesus’ feet. He’s giving you an opportunity today to have your funeral procession collide with His procession and to turn things around – turn your sorrow into joy. I don’t know what the sadness might be. It might be you just need the Lord to forgive your sins and give you back the joy of the Lord. You may be carrying around some burden for some loved one. Maybe a child – a son – a daughter that is out in the world. But whatever that need is, if you have something special that you want to bring to the Lord today and lay it down, let Him touch that funeral procession and give you back your joy. Then come as we sing this last verse together and believe that He will speak those words, ‘Weep not.’ And to come alive.

Lord, we are thankful and encouraged by the truth that You’ve not changed. That You see all of our sorrows, Lord. You not only see our sins and You’ve come to forgive our sins, You see our sadness that the sin causes. You see our sadness caused by sin in the world. You see all the suffering in the world that may come from sickness and disease and accident or disaster. And Lord we want to cast our cares on You today because we know that You care for us. We’ve gathered as Your people today – it’s like a great company. But we know that there’s an even greater cloud of witnesses that You have surrounding You that can transform our grief into joy. We pray, Lord, that You’ll do that now. Help us to learn to be joyful and to rejoice always because of You and Your Word and Your truth. Cleanse us from our sins and give us new life today and I pray that we can go from this place today as that procession left Jesus – rejoicing. I pray that You’ll be with the special requests that have come before us today – those that have come forward. I ask, Lord, that You will please speak to every heart words of comfort and hope and joy. Whatever their circumstances might be, I pray that You’ll transform them and that You’ll bring relief. And Lord, we just pause a moment longer and we pray right now You’ll be with our country. We pray that You’ll be with the leaders that are grappling with very important decisions and that You’ll not only turn things around, Lord, so that they can deal with the financial issues and those conundrums, we pray, Lord, that there’ll be unity in our country that You’ll bless and that You’ll restore hope. I pray that You’ll be with our leaders and give them supernatural wisdom and help them do what they know is right, putting all the politics aside. Please bless, Lord, because we’re coming to You – not that we deserve anything but we do believe in the power and the merits of Your name and the power of Your Blood and these are the things we claim and we plead and we ask in Jesus’ name, amen.

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