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When Life Met Death

When Life Met Death            Thursday, June 22, 2017 

 

WHEN LIFE MET DEATH (KJV)

By James L. Thornton

The day before the event in which this reading took place, the sorrow of a Roman centurion touched the heart of Jesus. (Luke 7:1-10) His servant was sick, in-fact he was near death. He had sent the elders of the Jews, "beseeching Jesus that he would come and heal him." they said, "he is worthy."

Then the centurion's faith had called out. "Trouble not thyself," "I’m not worthy, to come myself." "I’m not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof." "But say in a word, and my servant shall be healed."

Gentile homes were "unclean" to Jews, entrance into them would "defile" a person. In his self-acknowledged "unfitness," lay the real "fitness." his deep felt "unworthiness," was the real "worthiness." he did not say, "can you come and heal my servant," but, "would you come and heal my servant?"

Jesus said, "I will come and heal him."

Today, in our reading, it is the sorrow of a Jewish mother that touches where denial is unthinkable. In His presence grief and death cannot continue.

Luke 7:11. And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.                                                                                                            

12. Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.                                   

13. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.                      

14. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. {bier: or, coffin}                                                                                                                          

15. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.                        

16. And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.                                                                                                    

17. And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about. 

As the defilement of a Gentile house could not attach to Him, neither could the touch of death render Him unclean. Jesus could not enter Nain, and it's people pass him to carry one to the burying.

Jesus was entering from Endor. 

The burying ground was just east of Nain. 

Here the Lord of Life, burst opens the gates of death.

There is not much left of Nain, it means, "the pleasant." It is built on the slopes of Mt. Little Hermon. And, it is approached by a narrow steep ascent. This is the only time it is mentioned in the Bible. There is still a little village there.

A great multitude was following Jesus, toiling their way uphill, nearing the gate of the city. Here the Prince of Life met the little mourning procession, which accompanied the dead to the burying, winding their way down the steep road.

Which of the two shall give way?

The highest Jewish duties demanded respect for the dead. 

Everyone had to give way. 

Stop what they were doing.
Comfort the mourners.
Show respect by accompanying him to his burial.

Let's consider the grief of this Mother. The watchful anxiety, the slow fading of hope, then a burst of grief at death. Then the well known, single blast of the trumpet, to signal the visit of the death angel. The body was washed, then wrapped in the best the mother could afford.

The procession was led by the mourning Mother.

The body was carried by kin, neighbors, or friends, each was unshod.

It was followed by other kin, neighbors, "Much people of the city was with her." (Mark 7:12)

All work ceased while they were passing. Along the road from Endor steamed the "multitude," along with Jesus.

Here they met life and death.

Bitter, silent tears blinded the eyes of a sorrowing Mother. She met one "who hath borne our sorrows." (Isaiah 53:4)

Luke 7:13. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, weep not

14. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, young man, I say unto thee, arise. {bier: or, coffin}

Think of these phrases. "He had compassion on her, .." "weep not"

The sorrow of a Jewish Mother touches one where denial is unthinkable. In his presence grief and death cannot continue.

Jesus worked miracles, not to prove His deity, but they proceeded rather from His intense compassion with, and His divine pity for, human suffering.

"And He came and touched the bier: and they that bare Him stood still."

No one interferes with a funeral possession, but Jesus did.

No Jew touches the bier that holds one who is dead; it was pollution to the living. But Jesus did.

The bearers, in their amazement that one so respected, and admired, as Jesus, should commit so strange an act. At once they stood still to see what next would happen.

Unafraid of the terrors of death.

Luke 7:14b. Young man, I say unto thee, arise. 

15. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.

Here we have the extremes of human sorrow and joy.

How easy the "Lord of life" performed His miracle over death. Other great ones before Him had recalled the dead to life,

Elijah mourned long over the son of the widow of Sarepta. (1 Kings 17:17-24)

Elisha repeatedly stretched himself as he agonized in prayer upon the lifeless corpse of the Shunammite boy. (2 Kings 4:32-37)

Simon Peter prayed very earnestly over the body of Dorcas at Lydda. (Acts 9:40)

The Apostle Paul threw himself down upon the body in earnest prayer for a young man who fell to his death listening to him preach at Troas. (Acts 20:9-10)

But the Master, with one solitary word, brings the spirit back from its mysterious habitation, back to its old tenement, "Arise."

A beautiful illustration I would like to make concerning the three miracles of raising the dead recorded in the Gospels.

All of our Lord's works of mercy to the body have a spiritual reference to the soul. They are illustration of Jesus' divine power of love in raising the soul dead in trespasses and sins, from every kind of spiritual death.

Whether the soul be dead, but not yet carried out, like the daughter of Jairus; (Luke 8:49-56)

Or dead and carried out, but not yet buried, like the widows son;  (Luke 7:11-16)

Or dead, carried out, and buried, like Lazarus. (John 11:39-44)

He who raised Himself from the dead can raise all from the death of sin, therefore let no one despair. "He was moved with compassion."

What is redemption but the activity of divine emotion?

At Nain compassion fulfilled itself by sparing an only son.

The great love wherewith God has loved us has fulfilled itself by not sparing His only begotten son.

The compassion of Christ, as he approached the gate of the city of Nain, gave one son back to his Mother.

God's great love has, through the sacrifice of the cross, brought back many sons to the outstretched arms of a waiting Father.

It is our faith in this infinite compassion that is the source of all our hopes for men.

Hope you enjoyed this study and will read the other studies on this web site, and will visit our other web pages.

 

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By, James l. Thornton

 

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