Sermon For Trinity 16, September 20, 2015

Scripture calls us back from despair often.  It has to, because we too often want to go here.  “It’s never going to get any better.  This is the end!  How much worse can it get?”  When the Bible calls us back from something, it also calls us to something: from unbelief to faith, from death to life, and from despair to hope.  You hope in a God who will not disappoint when you cling to His promises – they are always sure and certain.

Consider two reasons why you think you have every right to despair: death and you guilt.  Let’s see what Jesus does with those today.

12As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out,(A) the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her (Luke 7).  Here we have a woman who is experiencing one of the greatest reasons to despair – loss.  She lost her husband before.  She loses her son now, her only son, whom she loved.  With that comes the temptation to think she loses any reason for happiness or joy, the temptation to think that her protection, security, bodily company and provision are also gone.  Widows and orphans have a special place in Scripture because they have to almost solely rely on God alone to provide for them their security, provision, joy and happiness.  She is currently surrounded by a great crowd who is mourning with her, but at the end of the day or week, they will go home and she will go home.

13And when the Lord saw her,(B) he had compassion on her and(C) said to her, “Do not weep.”  At this point in time, on the day of her only son’s funeral, this would be an insensitive remark from anyone except Jesus, the Son of God, the Resurrection and Life.  The crowd following her and the crowd following Jesus can only do one thing for her – weep with her.  That is an amazing Christian thing to do, as is to rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:14), but that’s all we can do.  Jesus however is not insensitive (For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, Hebrews 4:15).  Jesus can say this because He can bring hope out of despair and life out of death.

14Then he came up and touched(D) the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you,(E) arise.” 15And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus[b](F) gave him to his mother.  Death takes away the voice of those that we love,  Jesus gives those that have loved him back to us, along with the voice and touch and look, in the resurrection.  They won’t come to us, but we will go to them and meet them again.  Death takes the breath out of us, Jesus breathes back into us.  Death is the separation of body and soul (1 Kings 17:21), the resurrection is the return of the soul to a perfect and glorified body.  Life in this world gives reason to despair and Jesus says, “Do not lose heart.  Do not lose hope.  You will not be disappointed.” 

            But death, those experiencing death of loved ones or those who are seemingly experiencing their own death, doesn’t only mean loss, it also often means gain for – gain of guilt, gain of fear, and gain of recognition of our sin.   17After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18And she said to Elijah,(A) “What have you against me, O(B) man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!” (1 Kings 17).  This widow is going through a fearful time in her conscience, her sins are being brought before her face.  The big stuff, the little stuff, the words, the deeds, the lack of faith, the sinful worry, and even the sins she committed against her son who just died.  The Word of God that Elijah brings is not one of comfort at first for her.  God has visited His people (Luke 7) is not great news when you realize that you’re guilty and He knows you.  We could initially ask, “What do you have against me?” (1 Kings 17) but I think we all can name at least a few things He would respond with.

Satan would have us be tempted to think that we have every right to despair, and if left to ourselves, he would be right.  But God has visited His people and He has visited us to do something about death, despair, our guilt and sin.  He raises the widows only son to point to His own death – the Father has sent His only Son, the One whom loves (Gen. 22), to receive the eternal punishment and death instead of that widows dead husband, dead son, the widow herself and for you and yours.  He can say to us, “Do not weep,” because when we seek Him who died, we are not seeking the dead among the dead, because He lives (John 20).  He’s a true Prophet who doesn’t bring your sins to remembrance but to preach that they aren’t there, they have been removed and forgotten.  He’s won.  He’s brought us back to Him and given us to back to His heavenly Father who created us and the Father in turn gives us to His Son as His Bride, a union that not even death can part (Eph. 5).

In our despair, we see our sin, we see death, and we see troubles in this life and we too often say, “It’s hopeless.  It’s finished.”  But your Jesus comes today to strengthen you with His through His Spirit in your inner being, fills you with His life-giving body and blood, tells you He is able to do far more abundantly than all you ask or think (Ephesians 3), all because He yelled, “It is finished (John 19:30) .”  JESUS TAKES THE “IT IS FINISHED” OUT OF DESPAIR THROUGH HIS “IT IS FINISHED ON THE CROSS.”  Scripture calls you from despair to hope.  Do not lose heart (Eph. 3:13).  Amen.



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