Week of September 26

Who is This Person?

Read: Ezra 1; Psalms 84-85; Luke 7
“Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’ and ‘God has visited his people!’”
Luke 7:16, ESV


How wonderful to know that God is a God of history—salvation history! He gets involved in the lives of people because He truly cares. You may feel as though your life counts for nothing. If so, then God has something to say to your heart today! Nain was a village a few miles southeast of Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. It was on the opposite side of the hill of Moreh from Shunem, the place where Elisha had raised the son of the Shunammite woman. One wonders if the townsfolk recalled that previous event so many years prior to the event that we will read today. In many respects, the scene that day has been repeated countless times in innumerable places throughout the centuries. God showed them on that day, and shows us today, that our geography is in His full view!

Let's See What the Bible Says

God Has Made It Clear How He Deals with Our Human Need
Here is my opening “eye-catching” statement. Luke knows exactly what he is doing; the problem is that we may not be aware of it! Seriously, our context helps us to recognize that Jesus’ teaching showed Him to be the “Promised One,” so Luke follows with an account of healing (7:1-10) and raising the dead (7:11-17) to demonstrate that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. He also records the interpretation of these events that was given to John the Baptist (7:18-23). Zero in on the types of people to whom Jesus ministered, and you will soon see that the healing, raising of the dead, and the forgiveness offered to a sinful woman (7:36-50) were to people who were considered “outcast” (cf. 4:16-30). All these events are meant to fulfill one of Luke’s aims in writing; namely, that God came to seek and save those who are estranged from Him.

There is another consideration. The fact that Luke includes Jesus’ testimony to John the Baptist and a prediction of His rejection should also indicate that Luke was showing that Jesus was the Messiah (7:24-35). We certainly must not lose sight of the fact that Luke was writing to Theophilus to show him that Jesus was the One (1:1-4; 7:19)! Allow me to ask you a question: Do you see what Luke is seeking to communicate? Let me continue while you are pondering the question.
God Shows He Cares for Us Through His Son!
This woman’s grief over her child’s untimely death had to have been unbearable because Luke writes that this was her only son and that she was a widow (7:12-13). The death of the wage earner in the home portends destitution because she will be unable in that society to earn an income. It must have seemed extraordinarily insensitive that Jesus would say, “Don’t cry,” but only He could say such a thing and at the same time remove the source of her tears. Outsiders quite likely also felt that He was ignorant because He was risking ritual defilement by touching the coffin (Numbers 19:11, 16). One can almost hear their thoughts, “Does this person know what He is risking here?” Death, obviously, may dull the senses.

Jesus did what countless folks have done throughout the ages when He spoke to the deceased. However, this was no ordinary conversation. His voice surely echoed in the place of the dead and the young man was awakened to life again. In a moment of tender mercy, Jesus hands the young man back into the care of His mother (cf. 1 Kings 17:23 and Elijah’s similar words to the widow).

The people praised God (lit. “glorified”; 7:16). Jesus must have called the prophets Elisha and Elijah to mind when they labeled Him a great prophet. The Scriptures fall off their lips when they claim that “God has come to help his people” (Ruth 1:6). New life, obviously, transforms a person. The word for “has come” is used in chapter 1, verse 68, and means “to look at,” “reflect on,” or “visit.” It is often used to indicate a charitable manner, such as a doctor visiting a sick person. The idea here is that God has graciously visited this woman and showed her genuine concern.

Let's Deepen Our Walk

I visited the hospital room of a dear Christian woman who was suffering greatly from cancer. The doctor outside her room told me that she was about to pass from this life. I stepped back inside and, while she lay lifelessly on the bed, I wept and thanked God for her life. It was at that moment that I sensed God inviting me to ask Him for more—so, I did. I asked Him to glorify His name in that place and to restore her to health. He did, and her family and our church family praised Him for His gracious visitation. The point, with a dead boy in Jesus’ day and with an elderly woman near death in our time, is that God cares and that His grace is wrapped up in the person of His Son, Jesus. Life matters, obviously, because Jesus cares and acts!

Here is a thought for our spiritual growth. Notice that Luke does not refer to faith on the part of anyone at the scene (7:11-17). He performed the miracle simply because He cared for the woman, but Luke saw it also as a sign of who He was (and is). This healing was a sign that God’s kingdom and Messiah had arrived. He raised this woman’s son, but He would be raised, Himself, in the future. Luke shows the people then, and now, that Jesus is the one whom the Scriptures said would come (Luke 7:20-23). Now, let’s answer the personal question that I asked earlier in the devotional. Do you see what Luke is seeking to communicate to you? God’s care for your every need is met through this Savior.

Let's Think and Discuss

1. Write down some of the major losses that you have experienced. Ask God to show you the ways that He cares for you through Jesus Christ. Look for specific phrases in Luke 7 through which God speaks words of comfort into your life.

2. For families: This may be one of those stories that our children could illustrate. Sit down with your children and read the story below, from “The Message” from Luke 7:11-17, out loud. Then invite them to draw pictures of what happened in the story. If you have several children, have each one take a different character and illustrate the “Big Moment” from that character's standpoint.

Not long after that, Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession—a woman’s only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, “Don’t cry.” Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, “Young man, I tell you: Get up.” The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother. [Jesus brought him back to life!]

They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful—and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, “God is back, looking to the needs of his people!” The news of Jesus spread all through the country.

How exciting to serve a God who cares for each one of us!

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock