This is my sermon manuscript from a message preached addressing the challenges facing our country today. I’ve never posted a sermon before so please feel free to both receive and critique.
This is Not The First TimeLuke 7:11-17
NOT The FIRST TIME
There’s a lot going on in the world this day. And if there was ever time that people needed Jesus, it is during days like this. Some of you listening may think I’m speaking of 2016, but I’m really talking about this moment in the life of the Nain community. I mean look or LUKE at what’s going on.
Jesus has just been in Capernum where a Roman Officer has sent men to approach him begging for his attention. Jesus rushed to meet the officer, but was informed before arriving that there was no need for him to come all the way to the house. He was told that the way their system worked, if he just commanded it, then his sick servant officer would be healed. He explained that’s how it worked for him, that as a lead officer he had officers under him and whatever he wanted done, if he just said “GO” then they would carry out the command. Listening to this, Jesus responded by telling everyone around him that this was extreme faith and by the time the messengers arrived back home the officer was healed and doing well.
And that’s where we find him now… Sometime after that he went toward a village named Nain. Can you see him, adorned in his long trench coat-like robe, dusty sandals and entourage of onlookers following him? He’s approaching the town gate when a larger crowd MOVING towards the gate grabs his focus.
I mean Jesus is fresh out of a HEARING with an officer who was freed from sickness, and now HIS ATTENTION is ARRESTED by a funeral processional. He is now approaching the gate and they are advancing towards him. He is in motion in their direction and they have started a MOVEMENT in HIS DIRECTION.
VS 12 the story says that from a distance Jesus SEES a mother. A widow with a crowd carrying her son in bereavement. If I could pause the storytelling her for a quick insert, please know that the Lord always SEES. Don’t ever think that because you can’t see what he’s doing, or that he’s doing anything at all that he cannot see. No, even at a distance he can see. He sees this mother and widow and he sees you now.
- Bullets in Baton Rouge
- Murder in Minnesota
- Fights in Ferguson
- Mistakes made in Maryland
- Human Noose in NY
- Deaths in Dallas
- Frivolous Murder of Martinez Hill in Franklin
- Your midnight tears
- Your financial difficulty
- Your ruptured relationships
- Your … (List personal struggles)
He Must See, because there’s no place you can hide from God. I mean where are you going to go?
“Quote Psalm 139”
7Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,10even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
And I just believe that if his eye is on the sparrow then he can SEE YOU Too!
- If you are suffering, God sees
- If you are worried, God is watching
- If you hurt, he is honed in on what’s happening
- If you have pain, he sees your perspective
GOD SEES a mother who is a widow weeping over her lost son and as a result he SHARES in her SUFFERING.
He began to feel sorry for her. And upon approach raises his voice to lower her concern, “Don’t cry”, he tells her. I have to admit that at the onset I was a little upset that Jesus has seemingly demeaned her bereavement and put her emotions on reset. I’d imagine if anyone had a right to weep, surely it was this widow who is now also without her son. If anyone could have a pass to jump into an emotional roller coaster and be moved in her feelings it was this mother. If anyone had a right to be sad about another son being deceased or angry about another assault on another young boy, or confused about a possible senseless killing in America it was in a time like this. But despite the magnitude of this seemingly sad situation, Jesus says DONT CRY. And before I could personally become more outraged at the thought of this religious rhetoric pronounced by the Lord he whispered to me, “I can say that because this is NOT MY FIRST TIME.”
The scenario of this mother and widow may have been new for her, but it is NOT THE FIRST TIME for the LORD.
This is not the first time that Jesus has dealt with death. It is not the first time that Jesus has walked into and/or witnessed to a widow, and in a bitter sweet way it’s not the first time that Jesus had dealt with a MOTHER WHO HAS LOST A SON. In other words, this is not the first time that Jesus has SHARED IN THIS TYPE OF SUFFERING.
No, this mother’s pain has purpose, her tears have a testimony, the mixed emotions of sometimes sad, moments of being mad, constantly confused, and infused with anger… are REAL FEELINGS, THEY ARE WARRANTED RESPONSES to the death of this son, they would be excused by most, but NO they are NOT new for the Lord… This is NOT HIS FIRT TIME SHARING in SUFFERING. He is not a neophyte to this type of emotional fight.
Nooooo, he has shared in this before.
- When EVE received a message that Cain had killed Abel, the Lord was there with that mother and SHARED In THE SUFFERING.
- When Pharoah ordered all baby boys Ex 1:21-22 to be killed in the Nile and the girls to stay alive, the Lord was there with those mothers and SHARED IN THE SUFFERING
- Exodus 11 When God sent the death angel to cause all of the 1st Born of Egypt to die, he was there with those mothers and SHARED IN THEIR SUFFERING
- When Bathsheba got the call that her child, conceived by David, had died, the Lord was there with that mother and SHARED in THE SUFFERING
- Before Naomi hooked Ruth up with Boaz, Naomi had both of her sons die and the Lord was there with that mother and SHARED in THE SUFFERING
- 2 Kings 4 The Shunamite woman had her son die in the field because of a headache and the LORD was there with that mother and SHARED in the SUFFERING
- 1 Kings 17 A Widow’s son died while Elijah was the prophet and the Lord was there with that mother and SHARED in the THE SUFFERING
THIS IS NOT NEW FOR GOD
- When mother Mamie Till found out that EMMIT TILL had been murdered, the LORD SHARED in the SUFFERING
- When mother Jesse Wright Evers learned of the shooting of her son Medgar Evans, the LORD SHARED in the SUFFERING
- When mother Alberta King heard of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., the LORD SHARED in the SUFFERING on April 4th outside of a motel.
And when Jesus saw this widow, he SHARED IN the SUFFERING. So we must believe that whatever is causing you to feel down, in despair, frustrated, upset, angry, or hurt, that the Lord will SHARE in your SUFFERING.
List personal struggles here
And know that … Hebrews 4:15 we have not a high priest who is foreign to our infirmities… Who is unable to emphathize with our weakness… Who cannot be touched with feeling. (That’s three or a trinity of translations) but he is right here in the middle of our suffering.
No, in our weakness his strength is made perfect. And I can pause the story to tell someone here that if you, like this widow, have had some feelings of anger, hurt, sadness, disappointment, confusion about death, despair, divorce, or any other dysfunction… You must believe that the LORD IS SHARING IN YOUR SUFFERING!
Jesus comes to her, and as he rendezvous with them, he meets the movement, breaks protocol and touches the sling. Yes he touches the sling.
This is important because you must know that whenever the Lord SEES SUFFERING he then SHARES in the SUFFERING and when he shares in it he then SOLVES the SUFFERING.
Yes, HE SEES, SHARES and he SOLVES. Why and how would or could he do that, you might ask? Well, because it’s Not HIS FIRST TIME… as a matter of fact, this funeral processional would have been common procedure. This is what they always do when death has knocked on their city’s door. The only reason we are even privy to this, is because this time, different from other times Luke has recorded it. You do know that there are many unseen acts that we may not have ever been privy to if they had not been recorded? I mean Mark doesn’t mention this, Matthew never brings this up, and John never says a word. But Luke for whatever reasons records this death of a son and hands us visual.
Look at it, or LUKE at it; there’s a large crowd around the deceased son and the mother. Because whenever death happens to one it affects us all. The community should rally in unity around the death of another son. And they do. The weight of this death is not just to be carried by a widow but it is a burden for the entire community.
We all carry the burden
- I have Never purchased a CD or DVD from Alton in Louisiana
- I Never had (Philando) Castille serve me or my children in a Minnesota school cafeteria
- I Never had the police monitoring a game, escorting me in a parade or stopping traffic while I change a tire on the side of the road but…
- Their deaths affect me. Their burden is our burden. Death affects the entire community.
And in Nain, the community gathers around the widow. Can you see the mass number of protestors? I’m sorry, I meant the mass number of people in the processional? Their funerals are slightly different from ours. We carry our caskets with 2-3 men on the right and 2-3 men on the left. Our men carry heavy caskets in a low position by their knees. But during this time the widow would have been watching 3 men on the right and 3 men on the left, 1 in front and 1 in the rear lifting high this body and carrying him on a stretcher like system to support her deceased son.
Can I say that again? There would have been MEN around in the moment that a son had died. Even in the absence of her having a husband, because she’s a widow or whatever the reason, there ought to be some MEN who are around when the city has deceased boys. And they were there with the sling lifted high.
And Jesus seeks to SOLVE the situation. He does not speak to the crowd. He does look for who is to individually to blame for the death. He does not inquire about the when or the where of this specific incident. There’s no mention of the cause of death. No mention of how long he had been deceased. Nope.
Jesus SOLVES this problem by lifting his hand and placing it on the stretcher.
Because this was not his first time, Jesus knows that to SOLVE these issues you can’t waste time on the puny people that you see grumbling at ground level. But instead you have to SOLVE this by dealing with what’s happening on a HIGHER level. It’s not about who you see in the streets. No, he places his hand on the stretcher. The stretcher is the SYSTEM that SUPPORTS DECEASED SONS!
And anytime you have a situation like this you have to deal with the SUPPORT System.
His touching of the stretcher proves that he deals with the structure that supports dead boys.
Jesus did not just join the movement. As a matter of fact, it was not until Christ showed up that those who were originally part of the MOVEMENT actually took a real STAND. Look, they were moving, and once he touched the support system, they stood still. They were in a MOVEMENT but not going anywhere.
You know it’s possible to be active and non-productive. I mean you can be a social media activist and at the same time be socially missing in action. You can REPOST what everyone else is saying on FB, Twitter, IG, and Snapchat but be in RETREAT because you never take a personal stand…. It’s similar to 2 Tim 3:5 “having the appearance of Godliness and lacking the power there of” and Jesus is not fooled by the appearance of a MOVEMENT, no he reaches higher than a hashtag and puts a choke hold on the system.
The LORD SOLVES it. Not only does he stretch to deal with the stretcher but he also speaks to the boy. “Get Up” Jesus says, and the boy sat up and began talking. Jesus then hands him back to his mother. This is essential, because during this entire ordeal no one else speaks. There are no words spoken by the large group. There are no opinions given by the masses. There are no conspiracy theories projected by the crowd. Nope. The only words that create a change in this situation are the words of the Lord. Could this be the solution? Could the way to SOLVE the SUFFERING that is SEEN be to silence the opinionated chatter crowds, and pause the social media post and biased proclamations and speak the WORDS OF THE LORD? There’s something about God’s words that transcend time. They reach back into the past, but project the future.
God’s words are lamps unto our feet, and lights unto our paths.
God’s word does not return unto him void.
God’s word is good for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
God’s word is a double edge sword.
And while everything else ceases to exist– grass withers, and flowers fade– God’s word will last forever.
As I close I believe that someone needs some good news in the midst of these trying times. And the good news is, despite how you feel, or what you are experiencing, or how heavy the burden is that you bare that makes you suffer… the LORD SEES YOUR SUFFERING, the LORD SHARES in your SUFFERING, and the LORD is able to SOLVE whatever you are going through.
And I while this may not be enough for you, I submit that every now and then, we must rely on what has already been provided. We don’t always need a new word. We don’t always need a new method. We don’t always need a new revelation. For this is not God’s FIRST TIME. He is more than able to bring you through.
So if you are wondering what demeanor you can have while the LORD is working, let me share with you what he did for someone else.
Cause we know there’s no secret to what God can do, what he’s done for one, he can do the same for you:
In 1871 Horatio and Anna Spafford lost their son. Shortly after, a fire burned down his legal business. They eventually got it back but times were so hard for them that he decided to send his wife and two daughters to England for a much needed vacation. He stayed back with DL Moody and some others to study. Sending them, his wife and four daughters, ahead to England by boat to start the vacation. He received word that there was a collision at sea. His wife was found on floating debris. However his daughters did not make it. His four daughters had died and only his wife survived. He had previously lost his son to death.
This was not the FIRST TIME… So he knew how hard it was, but he also knew on whom he could depend. So he booked a ship trip to meet up with his wife’s England.
When the ship he was on sailed to the spot of the collision where his daughters died, the captain let him know they were sailing over the presumed place of their death. Horatio put pin to paper and pinned these words:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well with my soul.
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
It is well with my soul.
So can I tell you that no matter what comes your way, you ought to declare, “LORD it is WELL WITH MY SOUL.”
Believe that God can handle this because it is not His FIRST TIME!
Have you any problems that you can’t solve
Have you any rivers that you can’t cross
Have you any mountains that you can’t climb
Have you any hope that you can’t find
MY GOD SPECIALIZES in things impossible.
This too, shall past.
He will make a way, out of NO WAY
How do I know?
Because there was another MOTHER who watched her son die. By the name of Mary. they took her son, and STRETCHED him wide, and lifted him high.
And the LORD could SEE. So he says Mary this is your son John, and John take care of this mother.
Jesus SHARED IN OUR SUFFERING, for he was wounded for our transgression, and bruised for our inequities.
And he did die. They killed him on an old rugged cross.
BUT there was a SOLUTION, because early on SUNDAY MORNING like the son in NAIN the SON of GOD GOT UP!
If you would believe in Jesus, you too would learn that what may be new to you is not new for him.
THIS IS NOT HIS FIRST TIME so he is going to bring you through.