Posted by: duncandrews | April 17, 2011

A life and death sermon (part 5): God has come

On luke 7:11-17. Series so far: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

There’s something really interesting about what the crowd says: did you see it in verse 16? They glorify God, saying not only that a great prophet has come, but that God himself has come to help his people.

I’m not sure what was going on in their minds as they said this. Maybe they were just expressing their awe. But for us, as we read this story, when the crowds say that God has come to help his people, we’re meant to see that something deeper is going on.

We’re meant to see that Jesus isn’t just solving the problem of one woman’s grief, of one man’s death: what he’s doing here goes deeper than that. He’s not just reversing an illness, he’s reversing a punishment, a consequence. According to the bible, death is a penalty, the consequence of a deeper problem. That’s why in Jesus’ society you didn’t touch it, and you’d be punished if you did. We die, this son died, our friends and family die, because of our rejection of God, the Lord of life; and when you push away the Lord of Life, all you’ve got left is death. We’re not talking about a specific punishment, as if this boy died for some particular thing that he did. He’s suffering the general punishment we all suffer, the consequence of our rejection of God.

But God cares too much about his world to let it drop there. He doesn’t just leave us in the death we deserve. God had promised to come, to do what we can’t do and fix up the world, to even bring death to nothing. And not just physical death, but the spiritual death that lies behind it, the death in our relationship with Him, our maker. That’s what the Old Testament, that part of the bible written before Jesus, is all about.

We saw it in our reading, from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter 25. God had promised to do nothing less than destroy the shroud of death that covers all peoples. Death swallows everything up, but God had promised to swallow it up, forever, to wipe away all tears, every trace of it, from the whole earth.

And so when Jesus comes and does this, when he wipes away this woman’s tears, when he destroys the death of her son, we’re meant to join the dots. It’s like Jesus is announcing here in this miracle, that he’s come to do what God had promised. Jesus didn’t just come to deal with this widow’s pain, this son’s death. He came to deal with the whole world’s pain, the whole world’s death, the death that we deserve because we have rejected God.

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