VIVID REALITIES

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TEXT: Luke 7:11-17

INTRODUCTION:

In our gospel lesson for this morning Luke tells us about certain realities that took place at a city called Nain. Two groups collided at the city gate. A procession of death and sorrow met a procession of life and hope. At the front of one was a man who had been defeated by death at the front of the other was a man who would defeat death. When the two groups ran into each other they formed a new group–one made up of victory and celebration. We ask the Holy Spirit to lead us into these verses so that we could learn the three (3) vivid realities at Nain.

Our gospel lesson begins with the words, “Soon afterward.” Jesus went to this village called Nain shortly after he healed the Centurion’s servant.

The first reality that I would like you to see today:

1.  THE VIVID REALITY OF HOPELESSNESS (v. 12)

Nain is a place of cemetery or tombstones, a place of bankruptcy and poverty…So try to imagine what kind of atmosphere they have in that place; it’s a place of hopelessness!

Death and sorrow were going out of Nain. Luke tells us, “Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.” Although all funerals produce a certain amount of sadness some seem more tragic than others.

When an elderly person dies we are thankful for the long life they were given and for the fact that their struggle with old age has ended. But when someone in the prime of his or her life dies, or when a young person dies we are not nearly as understanding. Then death seems unfair. When parents are burying a child the natural order that we have come to accept at funerals may also seem turned around. The other thing that adds a measure of misery to funerals is the circumstances of those who were closest to the deceased. Their sadness and their future may also touch the hearts of those who are in attendance at the funeral.

All of those “misery factors” were a part of the funeral procession that was leaving Nain on the day Jesus was entering the city. A young person was dead. A mother was burying a son. The mother of the deceased had already buried her husband and was now all-alone. She depended upon her son to be the staff of her old age, but her son proves a broken reed; every man at his best estate is so.  This meant short term and long-term misery for her. She would face a future with little companionship and no financial support. It would be a life of poverty and misery until she too was carried to the cemetery. Funerals probably don’t get any more heart wrenching than this one described by Luke. It would have been a cold heart that was not touched by this funeral procession. There were probably few dry eyes among the crowd going out of Nain.

That picture was certainly a picture of hopelessness – a woman without a husband, without a son, without a family…a woman with nobody to help her, to support her and to care for her…If you’ll be asked you will certainly say that the woman’s situation is really hopeless.

Why am I detailing to you these things? What’s my point?  If a widow that time had experienced hopelessness, if those people before experienced hopelessness, that in today has never changed. According to surveys, hopelessness is the number one reason or factor why people are committing suicide. Look around you…Look at our country (current events), our city, our neighborhood (drugs, illegal activities, etc.), ourselves (our own problems in our family, in work, etc.)…Yes, you may have not lost a loved ones’ life, but with the burdens and problems that you’re having it seems right now that you’re in a kind of a funeral procession a hopeless situation so to speak…

Illustration:

One event in my life had made me understand that hopelessness is a reality was when I visited the most slum part of Maypajo, Caloocan…They call it “Tabing-Ilog.”  I saw a lot of people just staring to the sky (Malayo ang tingin…).  I saw houses made of sacks, cartons, old wood scraps, and other materials that are known as garbage.  I went inside one of those houses.  It’s just a 2 meter house made of sack and wood scraps…I could not stand the stinking smell of the house, the worms, cockroaches and ants crawling on the floor and walls…

I saw a 3 year old kid, lying on the ground with a high fever…the mother was just staring at the wall, drunk and so mad about their life…I asked her, “What seems to be your problem?  Why are you drinking a lot?”  She replied, “I’m hopeless! My husband left me, my daughter is sick, I’m now hooked on drugs and alcohol, I have no job and all the people around me are also hopeless…” She added, “I was born hopeless, I’ll die hopeless.”

Have you been in that situation before?  Wherein everything fails, your path is so dark, no wisdom and understanding are coming into your mind…That you’re facing a blank wall…that life is hopeless!

Quote: The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. – H.D. Thoreau

My dear brothers and sisters, all of us had experienced a certain hopeless situation in life…Even us as Christians we are often faced with hopelessness.

Illustration:

Elizabeth Prentiss, the wife of a Presbyterian minister, spent most of her adult life as an invalid, seldom knowing a day without constant pain throughout her body. Yet she was described by her friends as a bright-eyed, cheery woman with a keen sense of humor.

Elizabeth was always strong in faith and encouraging to others, until tragedy struck the Prentiss family beyond what even she could bear. The loss of two of their children brought great sorrow to Elizabeth’s life. For weeks no one could console her. In her diary she wrote of “empty hands, a worn-out, exhausted body, and unutterable longings to flee from a world that has so many sharp experiences.”  For her, there is no more hope!  That it is better to die than to live a life of misery…

Hopelessness is a reality, it’s inevitable, that no matter what you try and how you try it there are really problems in life that we can’t solve by ourselves, it would always seem that our knowledge, intelligence and resources are not enough for you to overcome, but today I would like to tell you my dear brothers and sisters, that Jesus is the only cure, the ultimate antidote for hopelessness or desperate situations in life… Money can’t give you hope, people around you cannot, wealth and earthly possessions will never buy you hope, only in Jesus you and I can find hope… (Someone asked me why I keep on preaching about Jesus…I answered him with a smile and said, “Brother from generations to generations, I believe that Jesus is the answer to all our burdens, he is our eternal source of hope…so if I have to preach it again and again, I will continually preach about Jesus…)

When Jesus came into your life, my life, the dark path becomes a shining highway, the crooked road had straightened, the mourning was turned into dancing, failure became success; impossibilities became possibilities…from a life of despair to a life of faith and hope!

Now, going back to our text…verse 13, “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

This scene would show us the:

2. THE VIVID REALITY OF JESUS’ COMPASSION (v. 13)

See how tender his compassions are towards the afflicted (v. 13): When the Lord saw the poor widow following her son to the grave, he had compassion on her. Here was not application made to him for her, not so much as that he would speak some words of comfort to her, but, ex mero motupurely from the goodness of his nature, he was troubled for her. The case was piteous, and he looked upon it with pity. His eye affected his heart; and he said unto her, “Weep not.”

Brothers and sisters, whenever we talk about Jesus, you cannot separate Him from all His nature, and one of His most manifested nature is the nature of compassion (Mahabagin).

NA SA LAHAT NG HIRAP AT PASAKIT NA IYONG PINAGDADAANAN SA BUHAY LAGING DAMA IYAN NG ATING PANGINOON…

I would like you to listen to a poem written by Audrey Mieir:

“Be not troubled with thoughts of the morrow,
Of duties you surely must do.
On the Lord cast your burden of sorrow;
It matters to Him about you!

Be not weary when trials are given,
But trust Him to carry you through.
He will make all a pathway to heaven;
It matters to Him about you!”

KAYA WAG KANG NAGSE-SELF PITY KAPATID, SA TUWING IKAW AY DUMADAAN SA MGA MABIBIGAT NA PAGSUBOK NG IYONG BUHAY, HUWAG MONG SINASABING “WALANG PAKIALAM SA’YO ANG DIYOS O NAKALIMUTAN KA NA NIYA…” YOU MATTER TO HIM.

Illustration: You’re Not Forgotten

During the Second World War the US Army was forced to retreat from the Philippines. Some of their soldiers were left behind, and became prisoners of the Japanese. The men called themselves “ghosts”, souls unseen by their nation, and were forced on the infamous Bhutan Death March, forced to walk over 70 miles, knowing that those who were slow or weak would be bayoneted by their captors or die from dysentery and lack of water. Those who made it through the march spent the next three years in a hellish prisoner-of-war camp. By early 1945, 513 men were still alive at the Cabanatuan prison camp, but they were giving up hope. The US Army was on its way back, but the POW’s had heard the frightening news that prisoners were being executed as the Japanese retreated from the advancing U.S. Army.

Their wavering hope was however met by one of the most magnificent rescues of wartime history. In an astonishing feat 120 US Army soldiers and 200 Filipino guerrillas outflanked 8000 Japanese soldiers to rescue the POW’s.

Alvie Robbins was one of the rescuers. He describes how he found a prisoner muttering in a darkened corner of his barracks, tears coursing down his face.

“I thought we’d been forgotten,” the prisoner said.

“No, you’re not forgotten,” Robbins said softly. “You’re heroes. We’ve come for you.”

Often in life we can start to give up hope, to feel that God has forgotten us, abandoned us to dark and hurtful experiences, but Christ reminds us, “No, you’re not forgotten”

“God is to wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind…So when you don’t understand, when you can’t see His plan, when you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart…” Trust His very nature, NA KAHIT PAGBALIBALIGTARIN MO MAN ANG MUNDO, MAHAL KA NG ATING PANGINOON.

I would like you to know this, “HINDI NAPAPAKALI ANG DIYOS SA TUWING IKAW AT AKO AY MAY PINAGDADAANANG SULIRANIN SA BUHAY.” He would always make a way, and would make things to happen just to show His compassion on you… His Word declares that though the mountains be removed and the hills be shaken but the compassion of our God is upon us…If God is never delighted in the destruction of the wicked, so much more for us who are called “children of the Most High God.” So weep not my brothers and sisters.

“KUNG HINDI KA MAN NAKASUMPONG NG KAHABAGAN, PANG-UNAWA, SAKLOLO O PAGMAMAHAL SA TAO, SA ATING PANGINOON AND KANYANG HABAG AT PAG-IBIG AY NAGUUMAPAW…” Our Lord cares for you, more than others care about you and more than you care for yourself. Hallelujah!

Third reality:

3.  THE VIVID REALITY OF JESUS’ POWER (v. 14-15)

Going back to our text; He went up and touched the coffin, (maybe an open kind of coffin, they usually used in funeral processions during their time), and He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk. The young man was dead, and could not arise by any power of his own, but we can read that the man sat down, that’s the first evidence that he was resurrected, and more than sitting he began to talk, the second evidence that life has been given back to the son of the widow…

Jesus simply demonstrated to the people that if He had power over the living He also has the same power for the deadThis instance proves the reality of Jesus’ power, our Lord is truly omnipotent…It means that He’s all-powerful, not some power, not few, not ¾, but He has all the power…

Do you have problems today that seems impossible to bear and to overcome and that you have tried everything to succeed, but still nothing is happening…Now is the time to let Jesus touch it…because if you would just allow Jesus to touch your difficult situation, He can make the dead, living. Be it a problem in your family, work, relationships, ministry, name it all Jesus is real and His power is real. According to the Word of God, our God is a miracle-making God and to Him nothing is impossible.

Illustration: Jesus’ Power

A young boy traveling by airplane to visit his grandparents sat beside a man who happened to be a seminary professor. The boy was reading a Sunday school take-home paper when the professor thought he would have some fun with the lad. “Young man,” said the professor, “If you can tell me something God can do, I’ll give you a big, shiny apple.” The boy thought for a moment and then replied, “Mister, if you can tell me something God can’t do, I’ll give you a whole barrel of apples!”

– Today in the Word, April, 1989, p. 43.

The boy was absolutely right, there’s nothing that our Lord cannot do, there’s nothing too difficult for Him…

Blaise Pascal said:

“The greatest single distinguishing feature of the omnipotence of God is that our imagination gets lost when thinking about it.”

Illustration:

In briefing rooms of American air bases during World War II there were posters with the following inscription on them:

By all known laws which can be proved on paper and in the wind tunnel – the bumblebee cannot fly.  The size of his wings in relation to his body, according to aeronautical and mathematical science, simply means that he cannot fly.  It is an impossibility, but of course, the bumblebee doesn’t know about these rules so he goes ahead and flies anyway.

Doctors may have said that there’s nothing they can do to cure your disease or sickness, people may say that there’s no more hope for you and that your friends had already given up on you but I would like to declare today that absolutely nothing is impossible to our God… “MARAMING SALITA ANG WALA SA BOKABULARYO NG ATING PANGINOON AT ANG NUMERO UNONG WALA SA KANYANG BUKABULARYO AY ANG SALITANG “IMPOSIBLE!”

“Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.”

– Thomas Moore

After the resurrection of the young man, we’ll now go to our last point, and that is:

4.  THE VIVID REALITY OF PRAISE. (v. 16-17)

Again in our text, after they had witnessed what the Lord had done, “They were all filled with awe and praised God.”

According to Bible Scholars the original word “praised” in our text was an increasing kind of utterance of praises to our Lord. The people who had witnessed the said event had raised up their voices, clapped their hands and shouted worship and adoration to our God…and when they had been dismissed, they were still praising and glorifying our God…With what they are doing, news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.  They have not uttered praises while in the presence of Jesus, but also in the places where they had gone.

What does it means to us brothers and sisters?  The proper response to Jesus and to all the things He has done in our lives is praise!!! Jesus is worthy of our praise. He has proven His Lordship, His power, His love and mercy to us for so many times, let us not hold ourselves in giving due praise and worship to our loving Lord – to our Lord Jesus. It makes me really wonder every time I come to church and seeing a lot of people, not really participating in worship…He has done great and mighty things in our lives so why can’t we open our mouths, our lips, our hearts in worshipping and praising our God?

Illustration:

A conference at a Presbyterian church in Omaha. People were given helium filled balloons and told to release them at some point in the service when they felt like expressing the joy in their hearts. Since they were Presbyterians, they weren’t free to say “Hallelujah, Praise the Lord.” All through the service balloons ascended, but when it was over 1/3 of the balloons were unreleased. Let your balloon go.

Let go of your praises.  KUNG KAY PACQUIAO NAGSISIGAW KA NG PAPURI, SA PABORITO MONG ARTISTA, PABORITO MONG BASKETBALL PLAYER, MAS MAINAM NA DAPAT ANG ATING PANGINOON ANG SIYANG IYONG PAPURIHAN. BAKIT, DAHIL HIGIT PA SA ANUMANG KASIYAHAN ANG INIHANDOG NYA SA IYO…IBINIGAY NIYA ANG PINAKAMABUTI PARA SA ATING LAHAT.

Illustration: (Personal Testimony ‘worship’)

We do not deserve to r`eceive mercy but because of Jesus we received more than mercy…it’s just fitting for us to praise the One who had given more than we have ever asked or think.

CONCLUSION:

These are the realities that had happen in the Collision at Nain, may we never ever forget that in hopeless situations, we have Jesus compassion and power to help us through…and we as Children of God, let us give Him all our praise because He is truly worthy to be praised.

TO JESUS BE ALL GLORY, HONOR AND PRAISE!

2 thoughts on “VIVID REALITIES

  1. HJALMAR PEÑAFLOR

    Ptr. Jhun,

    This is really amazing and refreshing how wonderful God’s Love for me!

    Maraming salamat po Pastor Jhun.!

    I have been reading your blogs for months. i would like to thank you because God continuously uses you to bless me and my family.

    I cannot pay you back but through prayers for you!
    May God continue to Bless you and your family!

    Regards,

    Hjalmar

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