The other day as I was looking for something else entirely, one of the coolest stories in the Bible suddenly came to me. I don’t really know how else to put it. I think I was looking for one of the parables that Jesus told his followers, but to be honest, I think I forgot about what I was originally trying to do when my eyes rested on this story.
I think I like this story for a number of reasons. If you want to, you can take a pretty deep dive inside of it, but even at the very surface level it pulls on the heart.
In my own devotional life, I’m going through the Bible right now, chapter by chapter, and at the moment I’m right near the end of Numbers - a much more interesting book than a surface glance might give it credit for! But as good as Numbers is, it really does feel like cool water on a hot day for the soul when you come back and spend some time reading about Jesus.
And so this week, that’s exactly what I’d like to share with you. A story of Jesus being Jesus, jumping completely and unexpectedly into the live of someone who needed him most. The story is from Luke 7 and is taken from The Message.
11-12 Not long after that, Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession—a woman’s only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, his heart broke.
Okay, before we go any further, there’s just one thing that jumps out and needs to be said. It’s important, so don’t miss it. It’s this: You Matter to God. See, in His lifetime (forever), since the start of the great war between good and evil, God has seen incredible suffering. He has been witness to the saddest things imaginable, and He has witnessed all the most painful things that have ever happened on this earth.
I think if I were God, at some point I’d go numb. I’d get jaded. One hurting person is a very sad. Ten hurting people are a tragedy. Billions of hurting people… are a number. If I were Jesus, I might be tempted to say to the widow, “Ma’am, you think your life is hard. You really don’t understand what a hard life really is. I’ve seen so much worse… all of it. You’ll be okay. Pick yourself up and keep on going.”
Not Jesus though. His heart broke. And that matters. It matters because it means that to God, you matter. See, you might think that your problems are not worth going to God about. But they are. He cares. God cares. He’s interested. This story is awesome because it shows that you can know for sure that no matter who you are, you matter to God.
13. He said to her, “Don’t cry.” Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped.
I know we didn’t get very far here on this one, but there’s one more thing we need to notice before we hit the climax of the story, and that is this: God doesn’t always do what you think He’s going to do. Whenever I say this out loud, it makes me think of The Princess Bride. But that really has nothing to do with anything.
Back to the point, the people in the funeral procession thought they knew what Jesus was there to do. They thought he had come to pay his respects to the boy who had died. “Isn’t that nice,” they may have thought. And they were right… and also wrong.
Have you ever tried to solve problems for God? You know, you’re facing something big, and you know exactly what God needs to do to get you past it. You’re like that kid who prayed during his geography test, “Please God, make Montreal the Capitol of Canada.” I guess sometimes God might work like that, but the reality is that God is so much bigger than the boxes we put Him in.
Did you ever come to the realization that just because you haven’t imagined it, doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility for God? It really seems like we’re almost always selling God short. We either do this by not believing in Him at all; or by believing in Him, but not believing that He cares; or by believing in God, and that He cares, but forgetting that His power and creativity are completely without limits. So we come up with our own ideas, and we keep the bar of expectations low, so that when God doesn’t come through, we’re not too disappointed.
But that’s not how God works. God doesn’t always do what you think He’s going to do.
14-17. He said, “Young man, I tell you: Get up.” The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother. They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful—and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, “God is back, looking to the needs of his people!” The news of Jesus spread all through the country.
Finally, here’s the moment we’ve been waiting for! This is the thing that Jesus came for. But until it happens, not one person is expecting what comes next. And here’s the key for us: Don’t confuse the present moment with the end of God’s plan for you. See, unless you read the ending, this is an incredibly sad story. Tragic, even. A mother, first losing her husband, and then her only son, is destined to face the rest of her life alone. This is the moment she’s saying “Goodbye.”
Jesus entered the scene, but those who saw him didn’t expect anything more than a little bit of sympathy out of him, which in itself would have been a kind gesture. But Jesus rarely stopped at kind gestures. It wasn’t until Jesus reached out, touched the coffin, and said “Young man, I tell you: Get up,” that anyone had even the slightest inclination that this story was going to have a happy ending. Every single moment that happened before Jesus touched the coffin was an incredibly sad, melancholy part of a funeral for a boy who’d tragically died too young. But every single moment that happened after Jesus touched the coffin became a celebration like none other, because the dead boy was raised back to life!
See? It’s such a great story. But here’s why it’s important for us today. It’s possible that maybe your life feels like a funeral procession right now. Your heart feels dead. All that’s left of you are a few old memories from the life you had before. In fact, the only difference between your life and a funeral procession right now might be that you are pretty sure that unlike a funeral procession, nobody is coming to say goodbye to you.
But if this is you, please: Don’t confuse the present moment with the end of God’s plan for you.
Remember what we learned at the start? You matter to God.
At any moment, Jesus will come by, walk up to your heart, touch the coffin, and say “Young heart (or “Old heart” if that’s what you prefer), I tell you; Get up” and get up it will.
This story shows us that this is not your end.
This is your new beginning.
Let this be your new beginning.
Let Jesus raise your heart back to life again.
That’s why this story is important.
Image by tung256 from Pixabay.