The Resurrection and Luke 7


UnknownHave you ever thought something was over, but it was not? Have you ever thought something was dead but it was actually still alive? What about SOMEONE? This happened to Mark Twain, when he heard the rumor that he had died when he was clearly still alive. Mark Twain, if you remember was the pen name of Samuel Clemens. The confusion happened in 1897 when Twains cousin, James Clemens, suffered a life-threatening illness while visiting London. For some reason, the editor of the New York Journal thought the renowned author had fallen gravely ill and sent a reporter to verify if Twain still clung to life, or when he had died. Apparently amused at the mix-up, the author wrote a note for the reporter to take home explaining that his cousin had fallen ill a few weeks earlier, but later recovered. Twain clarified the confusion with the famous quote, saying: The report of my death was GREATLY exaggerated. A more dramatic example happened to baseball great, Joe DiMaggio. In 1999, he was watching a movie in his home with a friend. Joe stopped the movie to do something at almost the exact moment that NBC news announced he had just died. The report only ran once and a retraction was issued 20 minutes later. Apparently, Joe DiMaggio was furious at first but calmed down when he started joking w/ his friend about both of them being in heaven together.

I cannot imagine what that would be like to hear a report of my own death. But on another level its not hard to imagine at all, considering that so many of those around us are not actually living into the rich full life of JC. Too many of us are living as if we are doomed. The problem we face is that we live dead, clinging to false hopes, following our shallow desires, and feeling stuck. In the face of this, the question we have been asking this Easter season is very relevant. Our Easter Question is: What does the resurrected life look like? In the 1st week of Easter we saw that the resurrected life is rooted and dependent upon the life of JC. The fate of JC determined the fate of the nations. b/c of His new life, we have new life. In the 2nd week of Easter, we saw that the resurrected life is a life where hope is realized. JC is the one we have been waiting for, the answer to all our longings. And today we will look at Luke 7:11-17, and ask the question again: What does the resurrected life look like? So grab a Bible and turn to Luke 7:11.



Scholar NT Wright tells us that the theme of resurrection is rich in Lukes gospel. He says, the resurrection of JC is not only the truth of what happened to JC, but also to all the righteous. For Luke, resurrection becomes a metaphor for what is going on in the ministry of JC. In other words, this story of a mother and her dead son is a metaphor for JC Himself. Lets see if we agree. Look at Luke 7:11-17 w/ me:

11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out -the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, Dont cry.

14 Then he went up and touched the coffin, and the bearers stood still. He said: Young man, I say to you, get up! 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

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.

This is a beautiful scene of resurrection that is unique to Lukes gospel.

It is full of so many great images. Picture it in your minds, a large crowd follows JC. In chapter 6, we are told that the crowds are gathering. It says:

There were people from all over Judea and from Jerusalem and from as far north as the seacoasts of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those troubled by evil spirits were healed. Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.

There was a great buzz surrounding JC. He was at the height of His earthly ministry. Things were happening, and people wanted to be a part of it. It was a crowd of LIFE, healing, and rescue.

So imagine the moment when this large crowd confronts another large crowd approaching them at the gate of the village Nain. What a contrast! This other large crowd was a funeral procession. They are heading out of town to bury the only son of this widowed mother. Graveyards were typically located outside the city walls for the sake of ritual cleanliness[1] and health reasons. So this crowd is heading out of town to bury this son. As sad as this is, in light of the context of JCs day, it would have been better if it was the mother in the coffin and not her son. There is a good reason why JC calls His people to care for the widows and the orphans specifically. In this time a womans security was tied to her husband and sons. Women had next to no social standing, and were not able to earn a living in any sort of trade (building, fishing, etc.). Life insurance policies and social welfare systems were not in place. So imagine the social and survival implications of being this woman. 1st you lose the security of your husband. And now you have lost the security of your son (and thats not even mentioning the grief of losing a child). This widows only son represented her last hope, and now he is gone – and now she faced w/ no provision, being sentenced to a beggars fate. So this crowd is carrying this lost son in a coffin on its way out of town. But they are planning on burying so much more than a coffin; they will bury her security and hopes as well. So in other words, this was a crowd is a crowd of DEATH, despair, and hopelessness.

And imagine now this large crowd seeing another large crowd in front of it, w/ JC at the head. The 2 crowds meet – the crowd of JC and the funeral crowd, the crowd of life and the crowd of death. Can you see the symbolism? The Lord of life encounters the realities of death. The One who would defeat death comes face to face w/ His enemy. And what does He do? JC at the vanguard of column of life sees the widow and overflows w/ compassion. The Greek word for compassion in v. 13 is splagzitzomai. I want you to say: splagzitzomai. This means compassion, but it is a word that finds its root in the intestines of someones body. Meaning, JC had compassion for this widow and her situation –FROM THE DEPTHS OF HIS BEING. Cool, eh? JC has splagzitzomai for this widow, and stops the crowd of death from going any further. The Lord of life then walks up to the coffin and commands the dead to rise. He calls the son to get up. And the Lord of life defeats death. Death has no power over the Lord of Life. The son is raised and JC returns the living son to his mother.

What do you imagine they did next? I imagine they turned around and went back to town! The procession of death was stopped, and I bet they turned around and threw a feast unlike any that had ever been seen. Why? b/c the son we thought was dead was now alive. Hope was lost but now was found. And the people were seized w/ fear, b/c (as they saw it) a great prophet was there. God had visited. The kingdom of hope was gaining territory and defeating its enemies. And so the news of JC spread throughout the land.

Lukes account of JCs ministry was both real and also a metaphor for the greater message of JC, the gospel. It portrays the kingdom of God advancing and bringing restoration and redemption. In this manner, sometimes JC would ask the rhetorical question: What is the kingdom of God like? Based off of this passage, I can hear JC saying: The Kingdom is like a hopeless, widowed mother who suddenly discovers that the son she thought was dead is alive. And thats the good news we see here. The simple good news is that JC raises dead things to life. He raised the son to life. He raised the mothers hope and security to life. And He raises us and our circumstances to life.



And yet all too often we life as if we were dead. We put our hopes in a coffin and join the funeral procession of our hearts. We bear the heavy burden of expectations. We allow ourselves to be weighed down by what could happen. We allow our hearts to be lead by fear and despair. The worlds of Ephesians 2:1-3 seem all too familiar:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you FOLLOWED THE WAYS OF THIS WORLD and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and FOLLOWING ITS DESIRES AND THOUGHTS. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

When we allow our hearts to be lead by fear and despair we join the funeral procession. This is ultimately our destination. The product following the ways of the world ends in death. It is what we earn by our actions.

Its like the story of Billy Graham who when driving through a small southern town was stopped by a policeman and charged with speeding. Graham admitted his quilt, but was told by the officer that he would have to appear in court. When Billy came to court the judge asked: Guilty, or not guilty? When Graham pleaded guilty, the judge replied: That will be ten dollars -a dollar for every mile you went over the limit. Suddenly the judge recognized the famous minister. You have violated the law, he said. The fine must be paid -but I am going to pay it for you. He took a ten dollar bill from his own wallet, attached it to the ticket, and then took Graham out and bought him a steak dinner! That, said Billy Graham, is how God treats repentant sinners![2]

What is the kingdom like? The kingdom of God is like a judge who pays your ticket, and then takes you out for steak. All too often, we put our hopes in a coffin and join the funeral procession of our hearts, and head out of town to bury them. It is what we have earned by our actions But as our funeral procession reaches the town gate, we are stopped by the procession of life, by the Lord of life. Ephesians 2 continues in v. 4, saying:

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God 9 -not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are Gods handiwork [His masterpiece], created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

What is the kingdom like? The kingdom is like a dead man who is pulled out of the grave, given life, and raised to a seat of honor and then described as a masterpiece.

The good news is that JC raises dead things to life. He raises you to a place of honor and declares you as His masterpiece. We may act and live like we are dead at times, but that is not reality – that is not what defines you. You are defined by your life in JC. God does not see death, and despair when He looks at you; He sees life and calls you to rise and head back into town b/c there is a feast set, and a rich, full life still to live.

The question is: What does the resurrected life look like? The resurrected life is linked w/ the salvation and rescue of our hearts, our security, and our very lives. My prayer is that we would live into our identities in JC. For we are Gods handiwork [His masterpiece], created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do – free of fear, and despair, and the weight of unnecessary burdens. He calls us to LIVE, so may we live into our lives w/ His hope and security.



[1] Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Lk 7:12). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[2] Progress Magazine, December 14, 1992.

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