Jesus is moved by compassion. Let’s say it another way. Compassion moves Jesus. There is a power in compassion like nothing else. His gut aches when you or I have a difficult, emotionally wrecking time. When people are miserable, our God is miserable. The God of the universe hurts when I hurt. Compassion moves the hand of God.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 7

by Delbert Young

The Power of Compassion – Raising the Widow’s Son (Luke 7:11-17)

The Power of Compassion - Raising the Widows Son

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The Power of Compassion – Raising the Widows Son – Luke 7:11-17

Scriptures: Luke 7:11-17; Jeremiah 6:26; (KJV); 1 John 3:17

Do you remember the first funeral you attended? The first funeral I remember was my Grandpa Young. Perhaps you’ve heard me talk about my GrandpaYoung. When I was a boy, Grandpa Young spent time with me. I remember being at Grandpa Young’s house anxiously waiting him to come from work and play with me. I knew I had to wait for him to sit in his porch swing and read his newspaper. Once finished and rested, he would spend time with me. He taught me to play shuffleboard, dominos, and checkers, whatever. We would watch boxing on television together picking our fighter to win. He’d let me select first and then we would cheer on our boxer. I remember a time I did something greatly embarrassing. Everyone laughed at me, but not Grandpa Young. He said, “Don’t let that bother you. I’ve done it too.” I loved my Grandpa Young and I knew he loved me. You can imagine how I felt when my dad walked to my room early one Friday morning, knocked on my door to tell me, “Delbert Ray, my daddy, Grandpa Young, died last night.” My grandpa was only 67 years old. I knew he had a stroke, but, as a child, couldn’t get it. How could something called “death,” happen to my Grandpa Young? What does, “Grandpa Young died last night” mean?” I didn’t understand. I remember the funeral. I was just a boy standing there beside my mother and father looking at my Grandpa Young lying dead in his casket. (I don’t remember exactly how I acquired them, but today I have my Grandpa Young’s Bibles he read and a tiny Hymnal he sang from.)

Funerals are tough. I actually don’t know how many funerals I’ve presided. Sadly, more than I can remember. I’ve ministered at many of your loved ones funerals. The world is full of hurt and pain, but there’s nothing like the pain felt at the death of someone you love and there is no place compassion is more necessary to express and needed than when someone’s loved one dies.

Today, we study Jesus ministering to a woman at a funeral for her only son with his compassion. For her it was a horrible, horrible day. It was the worst day of her life. She was emotionally wrecked. One of the things I learned early in ministry was the devastation people experience when a loved one dies. In every situation where I must deal with death, I realize how inadequate I am. In my own life, I watched my own mother take her last breath. We watched Judy’s grandfather take his last breath. Not long ago, we were in a hospital room with dear people as they watched their love one take his last breath. There’s nothing as horrific and emotionally wrecking as death. So, emotionally go with me to this funeral.

Luke 7:11-13 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a TOWN CALLED NAIN, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 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. When the Lord saw her, HIS HEART WENT OUT TO HER

The King James Version says, “he had compassion on her.” Notice whom Jesus’ heart went out and had compassion. We’ll talk more about it shortly, but“his heart went out to” the wrecked mother, not the dead son. I thought that interesting. The thrust of the story is not raising the dead son. The heart of the story is how compassion moved Jesus for the grieving mother. His heart went out to her. When we lose a loved one to death, the heart of Jesus goes out to us. He hurts for us.

Soon afterward, references the centurion who amazed Jesus with his great faith. This was the extremely popular time in the ministry of Jesus. A large crowd went along with him everywhere and everywhere Jesus went miracles happened. Where he went lives changed and still change.

Jesus went to a tiny village named Nain (pronounced nah-in’ meaning “beauty”). Perhaps think of someplace like Subligna, GA, or Kensington, GA.You must purposefully go to Subligna. You don’t pass through Subligna going anywhere. This is the only time tiny Nain is mentioned in the entire Bible. It’s an amazingly unimportant, nowhere, out of the way place. It was then and it is now. Nain’s about twenty-five miles southwest of Capernaum and about six miles south of Nazareth.

So if Nain is so unimportant and out of the way, why did Jesus go there? Why would the most popular ministry ever, the person people were coming from all around to see and hear, the person overwhelmed with ministry, decide to take an entire day, walk twenty miles over rough terrain to a tiny obscure village dragging a large crowd of people? Answer: divine appointment of compassion. There was no other reason to go to Nain. We see how Jesus goes looking for wrecked people. The woman didn’t ask Jesus to come, but he went. He’s there on the worst day of her entire life. We need to see Jesus is there on the worst day of our lives as well. No matter how obscure, lonely, and isolated we feel, Jesusknows exactly where we are and will go out of his way to get to you.

Some here may be broken today. Some recently experienced brokenness. We will all experience brokenness in days to come. Jesus knows and before it even happens, Jesus is on the way. Then, people (except Egyptians etc) were not embalmed and kept for days awaiting family to arrive. The funeral was the same day within hours. So, if it’s twenty miles to Nain, Jesus had to begin his walk before the son died to be there at the exact moment. No matter what you are about to go through, Jesus is already on the way. Though Nain may not seem important, the widow was. So are you.

Luke 7:12 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.

Likely, this widow was poor and illiterate. She’s previously buried her husband. Widowhood is difficult enough in America – the hurt, the loneliness, but imagine in that day and that place. There were no social security and family services. She’s burying her only son who supported her since the father died. She’s suddenly all alone. There are no other children and no welfare. What a bleak future. How tragic! Making it even worse, when the only son died, the family lineage died. It was the end of the family name. When God wants to show the saddest of all things in scripture, he used the death of the only son.

Jeremiah 6:26 O my people, put on sackcloth and roll in ashes; mourn with bitter wailing as for an ONLYSON

This is the saddest of sad times. The widow would be forced to beg unless someone took mercy on her. The only life support this elderly woman had was dead. Once, for her, life was great. She had a husband. She had a son. Her life was “nain” – beautiful. Suddenly, her husband is dead. Suddenly, she’s burying her only son. Her life is wrecked. She was alone. How quickly life can wreck, but Jesus is on the way.

The way funerals were and are done in that culture is somewhat different from our traditional funerals. The widowed woman walked ahead mourning, being comforted by family, friends, and the officiating minister (our family car). The dead person, wrapped in a burial shroud, was carried in the “coffin,” (actually a wicker stretcher) carried by pallbearers behind her (our hearse). Next, here is where it changes, professional paid wailers – loud wailing weeping women throwing dirt in the air, faces and hair covered with ashes, etc. The wailers also included musicians playing mournful dirges on instruments, beating cymbals, creating a commotion, and drawing attention to the procession. Imagine a procession of cars coming through town blowing horns, people hanging out the windows wailing, crying, beating cymbals, etc. Behind them would come the crowd paying respects and wailing. A funeral was a community event and any good Jew would join in the procession. A large crowd from the town was there. As strange as some of this may sound to us, they attempted to support and join in with the widow’s grief. I know some of you despise going to funerals, but you need to suck it up and support people in their time of suffering. (While I’m on this, our Life Groups do a great job providing help, comfort, support, food, and whatever is needed. We appreciate all they do.)

Jesus and his crowd showed up running headlong into the widow’s crowd.

Luke 7:13 When the Lord saw her, HIS HEART WENT OUT TO HER

(KJV) Luke 7:13 And when the Lord saw her, HE HAD COMPASSION ON HER

The word compassion is splagchnizomai {splangkh-nid’-zom-ahee} to be moved as to one’s bowels, hence to be moved with compassion. Though we don’t express our love (Son 5:4) or pity (1Jn 3:17) by describing what’s going on in our bowels, we get the thought. It’s the deepest unstoppable gut feeling possible. In the natural you ache and cramp inside. Something’s got to move and will come out. We are moved to compassion. We’ve got to do something.

Jesus consistently felt this toward people (Mat 9:36 – sheep without a shepherd; Mat 14:14 – fed five thousand; Mat 15:32 – fed four thousand; Mat 20:34 – healed two blind men; Mar 1:41 – cleansed a leper). Jesus is moved by compassion. Let’s say that another way. Compassion moves Jesus. There is a power in compassion like nothing else. His gut aches when you or I have a difficult, emotionally wrecking time. When people are miserable, our God is miserable. The God of the universe hurts when I hurt. Compassion moves the hand of God.

Not only did Jesus feel compassion for people and that compassion move him, he tells us we should feel compassion and compassion should move us (Mat 18:27 – unforgiving servant; Luk 10:33 – Good Samaritan; Luk 15:20 – Prodigal son). When we have compassion, we can’t stop it from moving us. Compassion is powerful and will move you. When was the last time you had a compassion movement?

When you’re traveling the interstate and the traffic suddenly backs up to a stand still, how do you feel? Do you fuss, or do you pray? Honestly, first I fuss. Then I catch myself and pray. You know there’s probably been a crash. Likely, someone is injured or possibly dead. When you finally get to the crash site and see someone in a body bag, or being loaded into an ambulance, or mangled vehicles, how do you feel then? What if you had prayed instead of clogging up?

Luke 7:13-15 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “DON’T CRY.” Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I SAY TO YOU, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk…

What did the guy say? The crowd and the noise slowed and ceased. “What’s all this?” people would ask. What did the widow think? Maybe, “Do what? Don’t cry? I hired people to cry and wail!” When I preside at a funeral, I attempt to stop people from crying. Do what? Jesus passed on by the widow and touched the coffin. I once read no preacher ever learned how to preach a funeral from Jesus. He had a way of messing up the best planned funerals. That’s true, but we do learn how to minister at funerals from Jesus. I’m there to allow compassion to move me, stop the crying, and bring alive again the deceased.

After presiding at about my third funeral, I learned my “preaching a funeral” did little good and no one remembered anything I said anyway. I decided I would let them preach their own funeral. I would let them talk. I can’t raise the dead, but I can stop the crying. I can make the deceased alive through good memories and good stories and fun times. I, as it were, get the person to set up and talk to those who loved him through their good memories.

Jesus spoke to the young man as if he were alive and could hear. Why? He was alive and he could hear. His body was dead, but he was alive. Jesus didn’t speak to the dead body. He spoke to the alive, young man. Once we are born, we never die. His body was dead, but he could hear. His body wasn’t functioning, but theyoung man was. Jesus repaired the young man’s body, but the body was not theyoung man. You will never die. Your body will, but you won’t. One day you and I will hear the voice of Jesus say a similar statement – “GET UP!”

John 5:28-29 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are IN THEIR GRAVES will HEARHIS VOICE and come out — THOSE who have done good will rise to live, and THOSE who have done evil will rise to be condemned.

Everyone’s body will die, but everyone’s body will rise. Those of us who have lived for Christ will rise to live. Those who have not lived for him will rise to be condemned.

Luke 7:15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and JESUS GAVE HIM BACK TO HIS MOTHER.

The funeral was over. The young man wasn’t brain dead. He didn’t need physical therapy to rehabilitate from rigor mortis damage. He sat up alive, fully functional and talking.

Jesus gave him back to his mother. That’s an interesting statement. Why wouldn’t Jesus give him back to his mother? Luke’s making a point. That’s whyJesus went to Nain. Compassion moved Jesus to walk twenty miles to obscure Nain to find a broken hearted mother so he could give her son back to her.

Luke 7:16-17 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.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

(KJV) Luke 7:16 And there came a FEAR on all…

Ya think! The word is phobos {fob’-os}- fear, dread, terror; that which strikes terror. We see our English word phobia. It was a holy terror. I’m certain some knew who Jesus was and expected him to do something, but raise a dead man to life?! He hadn’t done that before. Only a great prophet could raise the dead – only Elijah and Elisha did that. What did the crowd of people do? Imagine what the pallbearers did when the young man sat up? They gasped! They shivered! They screamed! Some fainted, or did whatever people do when terrorized. Why? They realized God was there. God has come to help his people.

This is the first person Jesus raised from the dead. After the widow’s son of Nain, there will be Jairus’ daughter in Capernaum (Luke 8:41-56), and his friendLazarus in Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem (John 11:1-46).

Compassion moves Jesus. Jesus never had compassion alone. His compassion brought about a power from God. Maybe we can’t raise the dead, but if we have compassion a power from God will come. We will do something amazing and even miraculous. We can pray powerfully. We can visit someone in the hospital, or make a phone call. That’s powerful. You can write a powerful note, or make an amazing supper. Power comes from your compassion.

Paying our taxes is an expression of compassion (You didn’t see that one coming did you?). We are blessed to live in America where tax money subsidized programs help people. God has always told us to do this. I realize there is a huge discussion today about entitlements, but it’s not the entitlements that are wrong. It’s how our government’s abused the money given for entitlements. In Bible days, the poor gleaned the fields of the wealthy. That was an entitlement. Alms were given at the temple for the orphan, the widow, the transit, etc. That was an entitlement. There was the year of Jubilee where every fifty years all debts were forgiven. Today we pay taxes. You can give to alms here which goes to the compassion purpose. Perhaps you could give some time to serve at places that extend compassion – shelters, etc. If you see someone needing something – a student who can’t afford camp, a single mom needing her car repaired, etc, I pray your compassion cramps your belly and something in your gut says move. I pray you do not shut up your bowels.

(KJV) 1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and SHUTTETH UP HIS BOWELS OF COMPASSION from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

We understand bowels shutting up. That’s bad! When we shut up our compassion there’s a question if God’s love is in the person. Have you had a compassion movement lately? Have you gone out of your way taking some time simply moved by compassion? Amazing power will come from your compassion.

Other Related Sermons:

Easter Blood Sacrifice – sermon video audio notes

The Resurrection Proofed – Easter sermon video audio notes

Easter Nonsense – sermon video audio notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young