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Lent 99 3 - The Via Dolorosa: Don't Cry

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Reading: Luke 7:11-17
When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Luke 7:13 (NIV)

I.   Sowing Seeds in Tears

     A.  A Funeral in Town

           1.  A crowd follows Jesus into town

                 a.  They just seen the faith of a centurion.

                 b.  He understood Jesus’ authority like no one in Israel.

                 c.  They followed Jesus to learn more about him.

           2.  He comes upon a scene all too common

                 a.  How many funerals are there around the world in one day?

                 b.  In this miserable world, too often family members burry loved ones.

                 c.  And what can anyone really do about it?

           3.  A crowd follows the coffin of a dead man

                 a.  A second crowd is here following the dead man.

                 b.  Walking with this woman, offering the only compassion they could.

                 c.  This crowd is like all of us before Jesus comes: sympathetic but powerless.

     B.  The only son of a Widow

           1.  A triple wammy

                 a.  She was already a widow

                 b.  She had lost her only child

                 c.  She was without support or means

           2.  Did she wonder “Why God? Why me?”

     C.  Call me “Mara”

           1.  This is so much like the story of Naomi.

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” Ruth 1:20-21 (NIV)

           2.  We are sometimes disappointed with God

                 a.  Not because God really lets us down.

                 b.  Our expectations of God are too limited

                 c.  Our pain blinds us to what God is up to

II.  Jesus Surprises

     A.  Jesus is Deeply moved

           1.  Jesus isn’t the detached, “above-it-all” person we see portrayed in the movies.

                 a.  The Jesus of the Bible isn’t emotionless.

                 b.  Nor is he beyond or outside of human experiences.

           2.  “His heart went out to her” or—His guts twisted when he saw her.

                 a.  This is that kicked in the gut feeling we get when something terrible happens.

                 b.  This happened to Jesus when he saw this woman he had never met.

                 c.  Jesus is filled with compassion

           3.  Of all things Jesus says “Don’t cry.”

                 a.  That’s a terrible thing to say, isn’t it?

                 b.  Already Jesus wants to wipe away tears

     B.  Jesus Stops the funeral

           1.  He touches or takes hold of the coffin.

                 a.  This was highly improper—Jesus would be ceremonially unclean for 7 days.

                 b.  Jesus reverses things—his touch makes things clean.

           2.  Everything stops.

                 a.  The two crowds face each other in profound dissonance.

                 b.  The crowd following the dead, offended by this brazen impoliteness.

                 c.  The crowd following Jesus, astonished, wondering what he’s up to now.

     C.  Jesus Wakes the dead

           1.  He speaks to the dead young man

                 a.  Isn’t it strange to speak to the dead?

                 b.  Jesus words can cut through the power of death itself.

           2.  “Wake up”

                 a.  “Get up” lit—“Wake up.”

                 b.  His words are simple—only one word.

                 c.  One word from Jesus does more than all the words of all mourners in town.

           3.  He gives him back to his mother.

                 a.  Like Elijah did for the widow of Zarephath (1Kings 17)

                 b.  But two differences: publicly and with only a word.

III. Reaping Bundles of Joy

     A.  The crowd Gasps in awe

           1.  “Awe” lit. “Fear”

                 a.  It’s a pretty scary thing to see a dead person get up!

                 b.  Of all the things they expected from Jesus, this wasn’t among them.

           2.  Both crowds dissolve into one.

                 a.  Everybody is astonished!

                 b.  Everyone is confronted with the question “Who is Jesus?”

     B.  They Praise God

           1.  They break out in spontaneous doxology.

                 a.  Their hearts are turned to God who alone has the power of life and death.

                 b.  Jesus must be God’s prophet, they say.

                 c.  Yet he was/is so much more.

           2.  Their grief and fear are changed to praise

                 a.  Which miracle is the greater?

                 b.  They went out sowing the seeds of grief and returned with the bundles of joy!

                 c.  This is what happens when God enters our sorrow and our pain.

           3.  How do we respond to our surprising God?

                 a.  Do we notice God’s power among us?

                 b.  Do we celebrate it?

     C.  They Spread the news

           1.  It isn’t enough to praise him among the already convinced.

                 a.  The news is too good!

                 b.  After 400 years of silence God has sent a prophet!

           2.  They spread the word everywhere.

                 a.  “God has come to help his people”

                 b.  What news do we have? Isn’t it the same news?

           3.  Jesus takes another step toward his cross.

                 a.  We’d rather have a God of power who never let’s bad things happen.

                 b.  Instead Jesus goes to the cross to die that we might have life to the full.

The Bottom Line:

God Meets us in our sorrow and Changes our grief into surprising Joy.

O Master Let Me Walk With Thee R/G#437 vv 3-4

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