Jesus has options we don’t have (Luke 7:11-17)

INTRODUCTION. A post appreciating Jesus’ divine ability to perform miracles as evidence of His identity.

In the pages of the gospels, the Lord Jesus displays His deity in a continuous stream of divine miracles. Our Savior casually does what only God can do, and He does these things without fanfare or pretense, and He does them repeatedly, and He performs these miracles in the presence of many witnesses. These attesting signs point to one obvious conclusion: Jesus is God in human flesh.

I have been particularly struck by Jesus’ miracles in the gospel of Luke and over the next several weeks I hope to write my impressions of those events. But before we look at the Lucan miracles, I want to share a few thoughts about Jesus’ earthly ministry and how plainly His entire ministry attests to His identity.

JESUS IS AWARE THAT HE IS THE KING

By His regal demeanor, Jesus assumes His full authority over every situation. Jesus is the King, and He is fully aware of His royalty. As King, He is always the One directing the action and He is always the unrivaled focus of attention. In every scene, He is the most important person, and around Him mere mortals, both righteous and unrighteous, revolve.

Without the slightest trace of pride or condescension, Jesus reigns over all other men. Sinners appropriately fall before Him in worship, seeking His compassion and His forgiveness of their sins, and Jesus accepts their worship as His due while giving them the divine compassion and forgiveness they seek.

Even in the days of His flesh, when He had “taken the form of a bond-servant and been made in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:7), Jesus reigns. Jesus Christ wears His divine authority as an eagle wears its flight. As the eagle gives no thought to his flight, so Jesus gives no thought to His sovereignty. As the eagle soars because soaring is the essence of what it means to be an eagle, so Jesus reigns over all because sovereignty is the essence of being God.

Jesus reigns over His enemies and adversaries. While perfectly knowing His enemies’ vicious intentions, Jesus nevertheless directly confronts the Pharisees and the scribes and passes divine judgment on them. Without a trace of vengeance or hatred, Jesus condemns the self-righteous and warns them of the coming judgment. Jesus condemns and passes judgment because, as God, He has the authority to do so (Romans 9:18).

Jesus is God, and His miracles and demeanor and words consistently attest to that fact.

JESUS HAS OPTIONS WE DON’T HAVE

Since Jesus is divine and has authority over the normal operations of nature, He has options that we don’t have. As God, Jesus always has at His disposal the option to perform a miracle to remedy a situation. This post explores one of those situations from Luke 7:11-17.

LUKE 7:11-17. This event takes place early in Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Jesus is going along with His disciples and a large crowd, and as He is approaching a city called Nain, He and the crowd are met by a funeral procession coming out of the city. It turns out that the man who had died was the only son of a widow from Nain. That is the context for this story.

Given this context, we would all agree that there are no options for the widow. Humanly speaking, the only possible outcome for this scene is that the dead man will be buried and will be mourned and then his widowed mother will need to find some means of survival, since all the men in her life who could provide for her are dead. In a funeral, there simply are no options. Death is final and it eliminates all human options. There may be burial options, but there are no outcome options.

So, no one in the crowd around Jesus or in the funeral procession was expecting anything but a burial. The widow’s only son was dead and it was a sad day. Jesus may witness the funeral and He may experience the sadness of the day, but like all other human beings, He had to bow before the finality and the power of death. Or did He?

13 When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.”

“He felt compassion for her.” It is amazing to think that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, feels compassion for wretched human beings like us, but here the Lord feels compassion for this woman He has never met before. He is emotionally moved and feels her pain and sorrow.

But what Jesus does next is what is truly astounding. For Jesus not only feels compassion for this destitute widow, but He also decides to act. We mentioned before that Jesus has options that mere mortals do not. For us, death eliminates options. Death always has the final word and all funerals end in burials. But Jesus is no mere human. Jesus is God veiled in human flesh and as God, death is subject to Him. He decides when death gets the final word. And on this occasion, Jesus chose to deny death its usual victory.

14 And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

It is hard to imagine a more unexpected set of circumstances. Jesus walks up to the coffin to stop the funeral procession, then issues a command to the dead man. When was the last time you were at a funeral and someone issued a command to the dead person? You would have to assume that the person speaking to the corpse was out of their mind. But Jesus, in front of a vast crowd, commands the corpse to get up, and the corpse obeys! Upon hearing the voice of God, death releases its hold on the dead man and the man sits up in the coffin and begins to speak. Then Jesus, in an act of compassion, gives the revived son back to his mother.

The crowd is understandably stunned.

16 Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!”

In the face of this astonishing miracle, fear grips the crowd. They have just witnessed the impossible and such power in their midst is frightening. Perhaps they grasp the truth of their own words, “God has visited His people!”

SDG                 rmb                 6/25/2022                   #548