Trinity 16 Sermon, 2021

“As [Jesus] 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. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother” (Luke 7:12-15).

Today, Jesus raises the widow’s son and gives the child back to his mother, and we can think of nothing greater, because we lack imagination.

Please don’t hear me wrong.

There’s nothing lacking in what Jesus does.

He sees the boy, who was dead.

He sees the mother, who grieves.

And He has compassion on her.

For the mother who grieves the death of her child, to have that child again, alive and well, in her arms—there’s nothing greater.

In one sense, that’s true.

Sin takes its toll on the body, and the mind, and the spirit.

So does death.

Some of us know how this mother feels.

None of us want to.

But for the boy to get back up—and to speak.

For Mom, again or for the first time, to hear his voice—we can think of nothing greater.

But for the mother, and for us all, the Last Day will be greater than this day, because—today—Jesus doesn’t give the husband back to his wife—she was a widow, remember—only the son back to his mother.

In one sense, only an earthly sense, there’s nothing greater.

And, with things eternal in mind, there is.

This miracle, while full and complete and comforting to the mother, is yet best understood not in terms of our daily bread but of our deliverance from evil—who Jesus is and what He’s come to accomplish.

Miracles are like that.

They’re not promises for our day.

They’re illustrations of the God who has visited His people to redeem them.

The Christian’s hope is not the happy reunion of some of those we’ve lost.

Some who’ve gone before us.

Of course the mother wants her son returned to her, and she rejoices to receive him back.

But this is neither a picture of what God promises for our day nor even a picture of what heaven is like—since the widow also wishes for her husband.

Of course she does.

The years have multiplied her grief, and while some grief is divided out in receiving her son—some remains.

Some of us know how she feels.

None of us want to.

For all who grieve, there are those we would call and bring back to us and have and hold again.

But this miracle teaches that one does not come back from death unless one goes forward in our place.

This scene is so similar to what Jesus will endure.

And Jesus alone must endure it.

He is the only-begotten Son of God—Mary’s son and Mary’s Lord.

It’s His burden to see His mother weeping for Him.

His burden for the considerable crowd to see Him carry death, our death, in His own flesh.

It’s His burden to die.

It’s not this boy’s cross to bear to die for the sin of the world.

It’s not this mother’s cross to bear to see her son carry our death in his flesh.

Jesus knows His passion and death are coming.

He knows His cross to bear is His and His alone.

He has compassion on the widow, the mother, because He goes to Jerusalem to die in the boy’s place, in the mother’s place, in your place, and mine.

The types of Christ are similar to Jesus in most ways—but they do not die or stay dead for long.

Consider Isaac—and Abraham who stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. The Angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven saying, “Abraham! Abraham!”, staying the knife (cf. Genesis 22:10-11).

Isaac was the son of the promise.

The only son.

The command had come for the only son to die at the hand of his father, and though he bore on his back the wood of the sacrifice, it wasn’t a cross he carried but Abraham’s test.

Then—the ram the Lord provided died in Isaac’s place so that there’d be no question as to who was the Christ. 

Today—the Lamb the Lord provides stays the procession and hand of death, raises the boy to life, and journeys to Jerusalem to die in his place—so that there is no question as to who is the Christ.

The types of Christ are similar to Jesus in most ways—but they do not die or stay dead for long.

This side of the resurrection, we don’t receive our children back from death—and yet—Jesus gives us all a reason not to weep.

As He spared the woman her grief, he doesn’t spare His own.

As He stayed the procession and hand of death and brought back the boy to life, Jesus sets His face toward Jerusalem and marches on—to cross and death and passion—and to our peace.

What He spares them—and us—He endures.

That we would see and receive and rejoice with all those we’ve lost—Jesus goes to cross and death for us.

Not that we would be spared grief and death on earth but that we and all believers in Christ would be reunited, found together, with son, daughter, husband, wife, and brother—in heaven.

This is the Christian’s hope.

Not things temporal but things eternal.

This is the Christian’s hope.

That Christ our Lord will sustain us all until and through the Last Day unto eternal life.

This is my hope.

The gift and sweet exchange that God has made for us. At Nain and at Calvary.

Because on the Last Day, Jesus will not say, only, “Young man, I say to you arise” (Luke 7:14).

On the Last Day, He will raise me—and you—and all the dead, and give eternal life to me—and you—and all believers in Christ.

This is most certainly true.

On the Last Day He will say to all—“Arise.”

And we will. Brother. Sister. Husband. Father. Wife. Mother. Son. Daughter.

Together.

Again.

And forever.

This is the Gospel—the report—that is to be spread about Him through the whole of Judea, all the surrounding country, and all the world.

That all would know what we know—and rejoice.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Trinity 16 Sermon, 2021
Luke 7:11-17
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

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