“Everyone Needs Compassion” (John MacDiarmid)

Notes on Sermon preached at PCF, 6 February 2011 “Everyone Needs Compassion” (Luke 7 v 11-17)

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The narrative from Doctor Luke continues with the day to day ministry of Jesus in Galilee. We look now at the story about “The Widow of Nain”

Assertion

What is this story really about?

Surely it is about the fact that in Jesus, God the Son entered the world in human form and that Jesus, the God-man is full of compassion, that he feels deep, heart-felt compassion for each one of his children.

It is very interesting in this passage that there is no evidence of faith on behalf of the widow. There is no coming to him in prayer, and no good works. Jesus actss simply because he is filled with compassion.

Argument

Let’s now walk through the story and see how it supports our main assertion.

A Daily Stroll

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him.

It must have been quite extraordinary to be with Jesus. A walk to a nearby town, which was on the route of one of his preaching tours, turned out to be the most exciting  day of Jesus’ ministry so far. Do we have that same sense of anticipation as we spend every day with Jesus? We are with Jesus every day – what’s going to happen now?

A Dreadful Situation

As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow

It is hard to imagine the depth of this woman’s despair. Having had the grief of losing her husband, she is now suffering what no parent should – the grief of burying her only son. Not only is this an emotional catastrophe, it is an economic one as well. With no husband and no son to support her, she would now be reduced to begging

A Divine Sympathy.

The Greek word used indicates that Jesus felt for her in his innermost being. What a comfort that is to us in our distress! Jesus feels for us in our innermost being in all the emotions we have in all the ups and downs of life. This is no professional “don’t get emotionally involved” empathy. This is feeling our feeling and being with us in our hurts. Whatever we go through, Jesus goes through it with us.

A Dynamic solution

As we have repeatedly seen as we look at healing, there is no reason to believe that Jesus healed every person he saw, or that he raised every person from the dead who died when he was around. But we can see that Jesus’ compassion resulted in action.

and he said, “Don’t cry.”

His words of comfort to the grieving widow and mother was no false attempt to stem the flow of tears. Rather he was telling her that in the grief there was hope! What comfort we can offer at funerals!

Here of course it goes way beyond a future hope: here we can see that Jesus offers a downpayment on the resurrection to come – this man is actually physically raised from the dead. And so will everyone who has died in Christ. So the words “don’t cry”  – even in grief – are appropriate. There is hope!

14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still.

I’m not sure what the funeral directors thought of this their formal funeral service suddenly being interrupted by Jesus (by the way, are we prepared to have our religious formalities interrupted by Jesus?), but not only was Jesus interrupting, he was making himself ceremonially unclean. Jesus love for the grieving and the lost goes way beyond religious niceties!

He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15

There have been documented resurrections across the centuries, both Old and New testament times. But the greatest day of all will be when Jesus raises us all from the dead – what a day that will be! In the meantime we rejoice in the fact that Jesus has touched the coffin of all of us who believe in Him,

and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

As we saw earlier, this is all about the compassion of Jesus. Jesus restores hope and life for the grieving widow and mother. He still does the same today. For those in pain, those who are lost, those who suffer and those who don’t know where to turn yet, Jesus brings hope!

A Dazzling Sequel

16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

When the compassion of God is shown in an area, it can not be kept quiet. The people around Jesus didn’t understand who he was – but they know that God had come to help them. People have the same response today when they genuinely see the compassion of Jesus.

Application

You are an object of  God’s compassion. We need to believe it and live in the light of it. We need to love as those who are under the constant care and compassion of their great shepherd.

You are a channel of God’s compassion. Thorough us today Jesus wants to show his compassion to a world hurting and lost. We are his arms and legs, eyes and ears to reach a broken world. Are we available?

John MacDiarmid

February 2011

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