Trinity 16 – Luke 7:11-17

Believing in the promise of the Messiah, Lamech said in Genesis chapter five when his son Noah was born, Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands. Granted Noah is not the Messiah, but he is a foreshadowing of the Messiah, Whose deliverance from the painful toil of our hands is celebrated every Lord’s day.

Lamech knew what happened to the world. Sin entered the world through disobedience. Now mankind must till the soil. The work is hard and painful. Thorns and thistles grow from the ground, choking the crop. Lamech also knew the cause of this toil, disobeying God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yet Lamech also took proper comfort when he said what he said about Noah. The genealogy of the Messiah would continue through Noah. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Eight people and all kinds of animals were spared the harsh judgment of the flood. The world begins anew.

The earth is a valley of tears. There is fear, want, and misery everywhere. We live for a little while, and then our time ends. Just thinking about it will drive you crazy. Those who have no hope in Christ don’t want to think about it. They refuse to accept the fact that there is more to the story than “The End.” There is no lack of proper comfort for those who believe in Jesus Christ in this valley of tears.

You know well that life in this world is not a happy time. Jesus went to a town called Nain…. 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. Unless you are a professional mourner, and that was a vocation in New Testament times, funeral processions are not a happy occasion. Granted there are “jazz processions” in New Orleans where mourners joyfully dance their way to the cemetery. But, most of the time, a funeral procession is a solemn occasion. People are crying. A body is being taken to its final resting place. You will never see that person as they were anymore. One day you will be in that position, unless Jesus returns soon.

There are other solemn moments in your life where you wish you weren’t there. If you’ve been through a cancer struggle, you know about radiation or chemotherapy. The treatment that may save your life also makes your life a mess. You get sick. You lose weight. You might lose your hair. It’s not a happy time. Perhaps you have cared for a dying person. Every time you see them, it’s a stark reminder of what happens to all human beings. The wages of sin is death.

There is a big difference between those who see death as “The End”, and those who see death as “The Beginning”. Have you been to a funeral of someone who did not confess Jesus as Lord? They are depressing. People stand up and tell stories about the dead person. At the end, there is the realization that those stories won’t happen again with that person. It’s over. Dead is dead. Time to move on. Nothing more to see here. Get on with life.

You have a blessed hope in death because you have Jesus Christ as your Savior. Jesus overcomes death for you as He overcame death for the widow’s only Son at Nain. Jesus says, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. What a gift on what could have been the saddest day of that woman’s life! Her son lives!

The Son of God lives in order to save you from sin. That is the greater miracle here, and is the miracle behind the miracle. Jesus Christ is the only antidote to the wages of sin: death. His blood and righteousness are the ultimate remedy for sin. Jesus is your strength and your solace in sorrow. When the Lord saw the grieving mother, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” You can only imagine the response of the mourners hearing this interloper Who interrupted the funeral procession with what sounds like an empty phrase: Do not weep. Yet Christ’s words here have something to back it up. He raises the widow’s only son. He spares him from death. Yes, this man will die again. But there is hope in his death because of Jesus Christ. God has visited his people!

God has visited you with His comfort of everlasting life. You confess it each week when you say, “I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.” This is reality and not a mere pious wish. This is also the hope of the blessed dead. They sleep in the tomb awaiting Jesus Christ’s voice to wake them from the dead. How can you not help but sing His praises not only for the widow’s son at Nain, or for Lazarus, or for Jairus’ daughter, or for the centurion’s servant, or for you as well! Life is yours, eternal life, life the way it was meant to be before the fall into sin.

Every Sunday is a celebration of life: eternal life in Jesus Christ. We eat His Body and drink His Blood in communion with those saints in Jesus who have gone before us in the faith, especially those saints in our own families. What they now have “on another shore and in another light” will soon be ours. You mourn, for you are flesh and blood. Yet for believing Christians, mourning has a happy ending in Jesus Christ. Do not weep. God has visited His people. Jesus comes to bring you relief from your work and from the painful toil of your hands. Alleluia! Christ is risen!

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