Why does God allow difficult things to happen, especially for those who are His kids? If He is sovereign and all powerful, He could certainly stop bad things from happening. But, He is also all knowing! And being all knowing, He knows what is going to produce the deepest growth and what will propel us toward maturity. Do we believe that? Do we trust Him to do that?
The Passage: Luke 7:11-17
Luke 7:11 Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him.
After leaving the mount where he preached, he went into Capernaum where he healed the centurion’s servant. He then went out into the country side to the little town of Nain.
It’s about 40 miles (65km) from Capernaum to Nain. The terrain between the two is mountainous and quite rugged. It would have been a difficult hike that would have taken at least 2 days. And also, don’t forget, Luke records, “his disciples and a great crowd went with him.” That being the case the journey would have taken even longer.
Luke 7:12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her.
Amazing Jesus’ timing! After that long journey, Jesus timed it just right, so that as they approach the gate to the city, this man is being carried out! I don’t think that was coincidence.
Ian Thomas said in “The Indwelling Life of Christ that, “There was never a moment in the life of the Lord Jesus that was without divine significance, never anything He did, never anything He said, never any step He took which did not spring from a divine origin. There was nothing in His life that was not the activity of the Father in and through the Son. What do we see the Father doing through the Son?” This was without a doubt a divine appointment!
Can you see the hopelessness in these words? “A man who had died is the only son of his mother.” It’s bad enough that the woman’s only son was dead. But Luke clarified even more, “..and she was a widow!” I really like how Ken Gire describes this scene in his book “Moments with the Savior”:
Twice, death has reached its icy fingers into her family and wrenched loved ones from her. First her husband. Now her son. Her only son. For years she has faced an uncertain future. Now she faces it alone. With no one to hold her hand. With no one to steady her steps. No one to comfort her when she cries herself to sleep at night. No one to wake up to in the morning. No one to fix breakfast for. No one to share the holy days, or the common days, or any days at all for that matter. No one to grow old with. And no one to look after her in the autumn of her life… No one.
Luke 7:13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
Jesus got to Nain, just as they were carrying the body out. This was not coincidence! This was Jesus, going to Nain, with the intention to comfort this woman! “There was never anything He did, never anything He said, never any step He took which did not spring from a divine origin.” As God in the flesh, Jesus went to Nain, to wrap God’s loving arms around this woman. Incredible that God cares that much!
Luke records, “the Lord saw her and had compassion on her.” This is a picture of everyone of us! God sees us in our hurt and has compassion on us and desires to give us comfort! (2 Cor 1:3-7)
Luke 7:14-15 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
As Jesus comes upon the scene, he goes over to the procession and stops them by touching the coffin. “He touched the bier (coffin) and the bearers stood still.” What Jesus did stopped them in their tracks! This was completely anti-cultural. You just don’t do that. If you touch a coffin, or a dead body, according to the law you would be unclean for 7 days. (Num 19:11) You would be kept from social interactions with others for that period of time and not be welcome in the synagogue. Because of the consequence, it wasn’t forbidden, but the cost was high. That’s why it stopped the bearers in their tracks.
Jesus ignored the consequence, took upon the “uncleanness,” and reached out and touched the coffin. Did He need to do that in order to minister to this woman? No. But, as God’s physical hands and feet, He displayed God’s love and comfort in an incredible tangible way!
Luke 7:16-17 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
I love the people’s response here. “God has visited his people!” They recognized Jesus’ actions here to be God Himself at work! “And the report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.” They saw the work of God and went out and proclaimed what they saw. That’s a “go ye” message if I’ve ever seen one!
When we see God Himself at work do we give Him credit for it? How often are we so excited about what we see God do that we declare it to others ?
Often in the Psalms David recalled or recounted God’s wonderful deeds toward Him. (Ps 9:1-2; Ps 31:21-22) In Ps 71:15-19, as he was nearing the end of his life David was determined to proclaim God’s wondrous deeds and to pass that knowledge on to the next generation.
What was God doing? Why did He have this written down?)
As the living, breathing, Word of God in the flesh, Jesus was putting handing and feet to what God had said. He is the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our trials. (2 Cor 1:4)
As I ask these questions of myself, I encourage you to ask them too.
- What can I learn from this? What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
- Jesus cared so much for this woman that he walked for 2 days and planned his arrival just as she was carrying the casket out to bury it. Her pain did not go unnoticed by God! He met her in her pain. Do I believe God does that for me?
- Those who witnessed this recognized it to be a work of God. When they saw God Himself at work, it produced worship, and generated witnessing. How quickly do I recognize God at work and share with others what God is doing?
- What do I need become more aware of?
- Continue to remind myself of God’s love and care for me. Andrew Murray said, “I must believe in His infinite love, which longs to have communion with me every moment and to keep me in the enjoyment of His fellowship.”
- Look for God Himself at work. Look for God’s work to teach me and instruct me. Look for God’s work in providing and protecting. Look God’s work in the lives of those around me.
- How does God want me to engage with this? What does He want me to do because of what He is saying here?
- Continue to work on consistency and intentionality in my prayer life.
- When God teaches me, share it with someone. When I see God provide or protect, share it. When I see the work of God in the lives of those around me, acknowledge to them what I see and encourage them in their growth
The Power; Implement and Integrate
The power to change is in the implementation and integration. We can talk all we want, make lots of plans, but until we do something about it, and develop habits that integrate those truths, we will never change. What is the one thing I need to do as a result of this study today?