We are sharing with you a sermon that was very meaningful from our brother in Christ, Rev. Chang Soo Kim, presently serving at Living Faith Korean Lutheran Church. This gives you an example of the fine preaching and pastoral care that comes forth from one of Christ’s undershepherds here in North Georgia. It is a very beautiful and full treatment of Luke 7:11-17. What is shared here is actually only a portion of the sermon, but here it is! For any of you shedding tears for any reason, it will point you to clear and certain hope.
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today’s text explains Jesus’ actions that day. Jesus went to Capernaum early in the morning to meet the centurion, heard the confession of his precious faith, and healed the servant under his command. Then, a journey to Nain becomes his next destination. Nain is one of the small towns of Galilee. It has the meaning of being lovely or beautiful in Greek. As its name implies, this place called Nain is scenic, peaceful, and a climate friendly place to live. For a woman who lived there, though, it was not at all. In verse 12, the Bible explains about the situation of the woman. The husband of the woman died early, and she had only one son, and lived hard. Now, when her son grew up and she thought she could depend upon him, had died suddenly. At that time, what would life have been like for her? Who can comfort her? Who knows her thoughts? Can you recognize her disastrous feelings? She felt desperate and unable to live in real life.
The fact that a widow lives alone means that she cannot escape being a beggar. The death of her son is a terrible thing, but her own situation is now miserable, and she goes after him crying as she goes to the burial of her son’s body. At that time, the body of the deceased was uncovered by the pallbearer. She cannot let go, seeing the cold body of her son going to the burial ground, crying, crying, and following. The villagers who followed the procession were so sad and nobody opened their mouths. There was only crying and following in sadness.
Then, according to that day, our Lord came toward Nain with His disciples, and sees the bizarre parade of death. Our Lord in a compassionate heart, stopped the procession and says to the woman “do not weep.” The exhortation not to cry here is imperative now. Do not cry anymore, but stop right now. Jesus commanded that when the Lord saw her who was grieved, weeping, and crying, His heart went out to her and He said, “Don’t cry.” To us, this is a really ridiculous command. This woman is crying because her only son has died and she must go to bury him. Crying is all she could do.
In Korean proverbs, it is said that when a husband or wife dies, they are buried at the far mountain. When the child dies, the child is buried in the parents’ heart. The death of a child is a great shock and pain. There is nobody here on earth who can comfort such a woman’s heart and cure her sorrow. So, when people Jesus ordered her to stop crying right now, everyone could have been embarrassed and all thought it very strange. What does He do to make it happen? If you are not a lost man, you will say a word of comfort to a woman in sorrow, but to say “do not cry” is sure to make you hailed as a lunatic. Everyone is now alert watching the Lord.
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Why is Jesus so sad and even tearful as He says “do not weep?” At that time, the Lord’s heart was full of mercy for the pain of those who followed Him, along with the woman who lost her son. This means that Jesus not only shared some emotion, but actually felt sick with them, feeling deeply the pain in their hearts.
Jesus feels even the pain of those who have never seen Him in faith and up until this point still have nothing to do with Him. He knows and senses the sorrow that you are experiencing, feeling of pain like they had, and the sting of the bitterness of all people. How can He do this, even though He has no connection even to some of them?
It is because Jesus, Who has love and mercy for all, has forsaken the heavenly throne, has received the suffering that we must receive from the moment He came to this earth in His sinless human body, and suffered the sorrow that we must suffer. Jesus also has tried all of the tests given to us. He is the only perfect human being, but also, at the same time, is perfect God Who can do all things. So the Lord’s words to not weep were full of love for the woman and beyond what we consider deep. Jesus saw a woman losing her child and falling into grief and weeping, and our Lord was nothing but sadness and tears. The heart of the Lord was so strong, though, that the dead would come to life.
In verse 14, we read together today, Jesus went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said “young man, I say to you get up!” Here, we need to pay attention to the fact that once again the woman who was there, as well as everyone else, did not ask Jesus to do anything. In fact, there is nothing they can ask in this situation … No one there was able to imagine that the dead would live only through this Lord … the family is heading to the cemetery to bury the boy who has already died. It was already over.
But Who is Jesus Christ? Today, as Luke says, He is the Savior of the Gentiles, the King of life and death. He is the God Who holds the keys of death and the grave. He is true God with all power Who can turn despair into hope when we are lost in our hearts. He is the eternal Savior who can solve any problem we may have when it is His will … He would give life to a corpse that was already dead and rot … He Himself would live from death … this Jesus is our Lord. Jesus is the Messiah promised through the Old Testament. He is the only begotten Son of God. He is the only Savior Who will save man who is forced to die because of sin and transgression. We rebelled, betrayed, ignored, and despised as He was crucified on the cross. Yet … He did not stand over you to blame or rage in anger, but gave you His great and wonderful love that cannot be repaid.
Indeed, Jesus knew what they needed … this is not an example of the law. Anyone who is going to be dead or who has died was considered unclean. People were even reluctant to go to a funeral unless they were a close relative. Nevertheless, Jesus, despite knowing the warning of this law, came to the coffin where the body was lying, not hesitating or hesitant, laying His blessed hand down on the foulness of death. If He keeps His hand free, He stays clean. If He puts it down, He is thought to have become unclean. But, at the moment His hand goes down and His Word comes forth, the work of life begins. This is our Lord’s love for us …. Jesus put forth His hand to the young man who died, wielding His mighty life-giving weapon, and raised the dead in a word. The power of death shrivels before the Lord of life. He gave life to Him and with His word has given life to you. Sorrow is turned to joy. Sadness is changed to comfort. His cleanliness changes the unclean. This is grace alone for all who are children living in the cold reality of death, for the people who are now all in the wrong, for all who have thrown up their hands. The Lord’s command, which cannot be denied, fell. Everything was immediately done and recovered. Thus, the word of the Lord is powerful and complete. As God’s children buried and raised with Jesus in Baptism, this is our confidence on the final day.
Everyone in the world has a reason to cry for one thing or another. God comes to wash away the tears that flow in the eyes of His beloved children. Above all, God has promised us through the prophet Isaiah that He will wash away tears from all faces and will remove the shame of His people all over the world (Isaiah 25:8). Do not weep!
In the name of Jesus,
Rev. Chang Soo Kim