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A second chance

Luke 7:11-16

Pastor David Ernst

16th Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Sep 23, 2012 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Who of you have been part of a funeral procession? Who have seen a funeral procession? Of course, the custom in Venezuela and many parts of the world is to mount the coffin with the body in a car, and the family and friends of the deceased follow on foot or in other vehicles to the place of burial. And when we meet a funeral procession on the road, it is customary to stop out of respect and allow the procession to pass.

Now, what would you think if a man stood before a funeral procession and shouted "Stop!"?

The custom of the funeral procession was almost the same as our at the time of Jesus Christ. And our Lord stood before one and shouted "Stop!"

Our text says: "Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.  And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still." It was not enough to stop the procession. "He said, 'Young man, I say unto thee, arise.' Then he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. "

What should we think of this? First, Jesus showed His divine power. Only God has power over life and death. But He used the power out of compassion for the woman who had lost her husband first and now her only son, not to impress the crowds and manipulate them into believing in Him

The crowd was blind anyway. "And they were all afraid, and they glorified God, saying, A great prophet has arisen among us: and, God hath visited his people." Why did they not recognize Him as the Son of God? They did not want to contemplate this possibility, it was easier to believe in Jesus as a great prophet like Elijah, who revived the son of a widow also (1 Kings 17:17-24).

But, unlike Elijah, Jesus did not call to his heavenly Father, but decided on His own authority to restore the youth's life. So, we should know Jesus is true God. Also, we should know He is true man, because he had all the feelings of a real man, and those feelings, which we show only imperfectly and reluctantly, He showed to the widow without reservation.

Furthermore, we should learn that God sometimes allows adversity in the lives of both believers and nonbelievers, but also is merciful. In our reading of the Old Testament (Job 5:17-26), we read part of the story of Job, a man who lost all his children, his home and all his wealth, his wife and his health. Then Job asked what everyone sometimes asks. "God, why?"

One of the friends of Job had this advice: "Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty."

This is the truth and, to an extent, good advice. Perhaps in our difficulties God teaches us that we have strayed from His path and warns us to turn back from the path to destruction. "For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.  He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword."  God is just, true, and one day will balance all accounts balance. But when it seems that God forgotten or abandoned us, as in the example of a widow who has lost her only son, this is a small consolation.

Thank God, we have sweeter consolation in Christ! He said to the widow, "Do not cry" and showed His power and mercy in a concrete way. He gave her son a second chance to live in this world. Jesus revived thedead three times in His public ministry. In Capernaum, the daughter of Jairus (Luke 8:41-56), a girl who just closed her eyes in death, a young man in Nain, with the strength of incipient manhood, whose body was on its way to the place of burial, a man in Bethany, Lazarus, in his prime who had rested in the tomb for four days (John 11:1-45).

In all these cases, they were revived for a while, not forever. They lived a few more years on earth and passed away again. But Jesus not only showed His power over death, but forever defeated death on the cross and through His resurrection. Therefore, we all have a second chance at life, not just for a while, but forever.

In the last day when the Lord will return in judgment, he will stop the great funeral procession making its way around the world, He will bring the dead to life, He will heal all wounds that death has inflicted, he will reunite all those whom death has separated. So no more death, neither more tears nor sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. That is the hope of believers. While in this vale of tears, they cling to the hope of the Gospel. And hope of what will be fulfilled is revealed already in them.

This peace that passes all understanding be with you forever. Amen.

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