3rd Sunday after Pentecost

Sermon Title: 3rd Sunday after Pentecost (8am service only)
Date: 5th June 2016
Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers
Lectionary Reading: 1 King 17:8-16, Psalm 146, Galations 1:11-24, Luke 7:11-17

The picture on the front page of the pew sheet is what people want to see as headlines in our newspapers…because they grab our attention and they sell newspapers.

“JESUS RAISES MAN FROM THE DEAD!” Nain Man Goes Home to Mother”

Miracles, whether we believe they really happened or not, fascinate us and so we want to share with others the ‘miracle’ and how wonderful this is or we are sceptical and talk about well, how this ‘miracle’ wasn’t really a miracle but happened because of certain circumstances etc.

So, all our attention is around the miracle.

When we hear this gospel story today, is it the miracle that is what the teller of the story is trying to get across to the readers?

Let’s have a look at the story. (Please turn to your pew sheet)

Last week we heard the story just before this one of Jesus on his way to heal the Centurion’s servant. On the way there people came from the Centurions home to say Jesus, you don’t need to come….just say the word and my servant will be healed.

And Jesus was amazed at such faith and said “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith”. So this story was about faith. What about today’s story?

Our story continues with ‘soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain… (roughly 20 miles from Capernaum) …as he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out.  He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow.’ So obviously this was a funeral procession for the son, but because of the culture and systems of the day, it was probably the impending death of the widow too as she was now ‘out of the town’…discarded because she had no man in her life to give her food and shelter.

The Lord ‘saw her’….which is more than made eye contact…he saw how she was so grieved … or her son? For her elf?   Jesus’ heart broke…he had compassion. The Greek word is  esplagchnisthe, which is a strong feeling in your guts!

Com-passio literally means to ‘suffer with’. And in Latin ,com means ‘with’ and passion means ‘to suffer.’  “Passion’ is suffering which is why we talk about “the Passion of Christ” during Holy Week.

Jesus saw her and had compassion for her.  He could have just walked on by and in through the gate of the town of Nain but he chose to do something else.

As we read in this story he spoke to her first and said ‘don’t weep’. He then came forward and touched the bier and the bearers stood still. I’m sure they were wondering why this guy touched the bier! (The bier is a type of stretcher to carry the coffin) and then Jesus said to the young man ‘rise’!  The dead man sat up and began to speak

This is where many people would stop and be astounded at the miracle and think no more of the story.

But there is more.

Jesus gave the son to his mother.

Can you picture the scene?  There is Jesus, his disciples, a large crown and then the bearers carrying the bier, the mother and the large crown in the funeral procession. Lots happening. And Jesus steps forward, touches the bier and then when the son sits up he then gives the son to his mother.   It’s a beautiful image!

The response of the people was around the miracle. “Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, ‘a great prophet has risen among us!’ and ‘God has looked favourably on his people!’

But can you see the main beautiful purpose of this story

Jesus had compassion. He cared for this widow.

It wasn’t about being the miracle maker!

It was about caring for someone who was very vulnerable. The widow.

So the message I believe this story from Luke is teaching us is about two things:

 

  1. To care for the vulnerable and needy.  This in our society and culture means the homeless, the lonely (young or old), the refugee, the women caught in domestic violence, those suffering from mental illness. We are to see each other as human beings worthy of love and care. Please note that nothing is said about the mother’s faith or the young man’s faith. Jesus simply reaches out to another human being who needs help. No strings attached!

 

  1. Luke is teaching us about the importance of relationships following the role model of Jesus.  Jesus gave the son to his mother.  How wonderful is that!  Reconnecting the once dead relationship but which is now healed.  The healing for both son and mother.  This could be, on reflection, not just a physical death, but other ‘deaths’ where there has been misunderstandings, angry words said, and when hearts harden.  The reconnection comes when our hearts are softened.

So next time you read or hear about some miracle that has happened, think about who is involved and what has been restored in their lives, rather than getting caught up in the miracle itself whether you believe it or not.

How love and care of each other are paramount to any headlines of the miraculous!

The Lord be with you