Apr. 4, 2021

Go the Distance

In Luke 7:11-17 we can read about Jesus raising the widow of Nain’s son. The first part of this 7th chapter lets us know that Jesus was in Capernaum. He left Capernaum and went to a town called Nain. In modern times these cities still exist. If they are in the same location as in biblical times, the two towns are about 32.6 miles apart. Possibly taking about 16 hours to walk from the one city to the other. 

Luke 7:11 AMP

11 Soon afterward Jesus went to a city called Nain [near Nazareth], and His disciples and a large crowd accompanied Him. 

Just think about how these people valued spending time with Jesus, listening to His teachings and gaining insight, clarity and peace from His wisdom. This was a sacrifice for many of them to leave whatever was going on in their homes and families to follow the Master. This wasn’t just around the corner. For many of them it was a long, costly trip. In comparison, think about some people you may know who won’t travel across town in a comfortable, nicely equipped vehicle to gather for worship services. The people following Jesus put their lives and vocations and daily activities on hold to be in His presence. If these locations and calculations are correct, this distance would be like walking from here (Springfield) to Xenia and back. That’s just to get to Nain from Capernaum. This large crowd that followed Him considered what they received from Jesus to be a far greater blessing and experience than what they would have gotten by staying home and tending to their normal activities.

 

Their dedication and sacrifices were supremely rewarded. Let’s read on to see what happened.

Luke 7:12 AMP

12 Now as He approached the city gate, a dead man was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her [in the funeral procession]. 

So, there are two large groups of people coming from opposite directions. Jesus and those following Him are on their way to entering the city. The people with the funeral procession are on their way out of the city, heading toward the burial site.

Luke 7:13 AMP

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

Jesus was moved with compassion, not for the dead man, but for his mother. There is no indication that Jesus had any acquaintance with the woman or her son prior to this encounter. It wasn’t like He was friends with them like He was with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. His heart and His Spirit told Him how horrific a tragedy this young man’s passing was for his mother. Jesus didn’t poll the crowd, conduct a survey or ask the woman’s neighbors about her station in life. His heart and His spirit told Him that this young man’s death meant a drastic, unpleasant, maybe even unbearable change in circumstances for this dear woman.

Luke 7:14 AMP

14 And He came up and touched the bier [on which the body rested], and the pallbearers stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise [from death]!” 

Jesus didn’t make a big show about it because He was not trying to draw attention to Himself. He also was not about prolonging the agony of the woman. He was about reviving, restoring her life and heart and spirit as quickly and as effortlessly as possible.

This should be the desire and goal of every ministry. Some public figures cannot resist the excitement of a large audience. They move from whatever capacity they should be operating in (ministering, serving, working, helping, etc.) into ‘performance’ mode. Jesus stayed focused on what is important and didn’t deviate from the main objective: make someone’s life better, lighter, freer, richer. And He did just that.

Luke 7:15 AMP

15 The man who was dead sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother. 

I wonder what the young man was saying when he was brought back to life! Did he know immediately what had happened? Had he been sick before he died? Or had he suffered a terrible accident and suffered excruciating pain before he died? Had he been delirious with a fever or semi-conscious unaware of his surroundings before he died?

There are so many details not shared with this story. There is a lot about the circumstances that we don’t know. But what we do know is that there are some acute differences between this miracle and the one where Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead.

  1. Jairus’ daughter – Jesus didn’t allow the crowd to go in to the family with Him. With the widow’s son there were two large groups on onlookers. But Jesus didn’t disperse them or send them away or take the mother and her son aside, away from the crowd.
  2. Jairus’ daughter – Jesus put all the mourners out because they expressed unbelief. Unbelief throws cold water on a hot flame. Maybe that is why Jesus never said what He was going to do with the widow’s son before He did it. If He had announced that the young man was merely sleeping, no doubt, many in the crowd would have disputed Jesus’ claim. From this narrative we see that it is sometimes best not to share with others what you are doing or what you intend to do. If they don’t have the vision or the faith they may throw cold water on your enthusiasm, your dream, your faith.
  3. Jairus approached Jesus and asked for Him to come and heal his daughter. Mark 5: 21-23 AMP 21 When Jesus had again crossed over in the boat to the other side [of the sea], a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore. 22 One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up; and seeing Him, fell at His feet 23 and begged anxiously with Him, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; [please] come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will be healed and live.”

Evidently Jairus had been looking for Jesus. Jairus was seeking Jesus and asked for His help. There is no indication that the widow of Nain knew who He was. Whether she did or not, she never asked for His help. Jesus was aware of the condition and took it upon Himself to restore.

4. In both instances Jesus spoke comfort to the parent. To the woman He said, “Do not weep” because He was going to cure the cause of her distress. To Jairus He said, “Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear; only keep on believing.” This is the point where some people who are in line for a miracle miss it. They put more confidence in the circumstances than in the Lord. At this point both children were dead. But Jesus charges them, through His words, to expect and keep believing for something different than what the circumstances are saying. Whose voice will we believe? We will believe the voice and the report and the Word of the Lord!

5. Mark 5:41 Jesus took the little 12-year old girl firmly by the hand. In the case of the widow’s son< Jesus touched the bier on which He was laying but didn’t touch the man.

6. Jesus spoke to both of the dead ones and told them to get up!

7. Jesus addressed both of the dead ones but not by name because He didn’t know them. To the girl, He said, Little girl” and to the man He said, “Young man.” When we speak to dead things in our lives that we want to see revived and brought back to life, we need to be specific. Call it by name. Jesus was specific. There was no doubt as to who He was speaking to. When He raised Lazarus from the dead, He called him by name. Otherwise all the dead within a certain distance would have heard Him and would have gotten up.

8. Both of the dead ones were physically healed. In neither case are we told the reason for the sickness or illness or accident that caused the death. But we do know that whatever it was, Jesus healed them and they were fully restored to health and wholeness.

9. Both of those who had died responded physically. The girl got up and walked. The man sat up and talked. That sounds like the beginnings of a good Holy Ghost, praising kind of song!!

10. Jesus gave instructions that the girl needed to be given something to eat right away. But He gave no instructions concerning the young man. Jesus simply returned him to His mother. Jesus may have been operating in a word of wisdom or a word of knowledge, probably knowing that the little girl’s body was depleted of energy and nutrients that needed immediate replacement. Perhaps her family was so happy that they would have been hugging her and taking her around to family and friends so all could rejoice with them. They may not have thought about her body needing fuel. The man who was brought back to life was older and he probably would have said on his own, “Mom, I’m hungry!” Or maybe food was already prepared at the home in anticipation of the crowd returning from the burial site. Whatever the situation, Jesus knows and He has everything under His care.

Earlier it was mentioned some about the costs and benefits of following Jesus. Those who follow music groups and rock bands are called “roadies”. Jesus had some. He had some roadies. They followed Him many places, sometimes for long, difficult distances. But when He went to the cross even His closest converts fell away. John was the only one who stayed during the entire ordeal. Peter emphatically professed that even if all these others leave You, Jesus, I never will. But when things got tight, when they got serious Peter was so fearful, angry and frustrated he declared with cussing that he never knew Jesus.

What about us? In our world, in our culture there is more and more opportunity to deny the One who saved us. We are generally bombarded daily with movies, sitcoms, commercials and advertisements, conversations and opinions that reject the Word, the will and the way of the Lord. How closely are we willing to follow Him? And for how long? Until it gets uncomfortable? Until we are shunned by friends and family? Until our sources of income are cut off? Until our privacy is invaded? Until our lives or loved ones are threatened with death and/or dismemberment? How far are we willing to go? What cost are we willing to pay? Those who stayed close to Him were ultimately never disappointed. They may not have understood or appreciated what was happening at the time it was occurring. But in the end they were glad they stayed.

Jairus stuck with Jesus and kept the faith. Because of that he got to have his daughter back. The crowd that walked with Jesus over 32 miles from Capernaum to Nain got to see and experience something they probably had never seen and would never see again: a young man on the way to be buried given his life back. I don’t recall any other time that the Bible records that Jesus went to Nain. Jesus is willing to go the distance just for you and just for me. He did it. He went to the cross to save us from the power and penalty of sin. He did for us what no other person would do or could do.

Even the disciples were richly rewarded later, although most of them took a pause in their time of distress and confusion. Jesus fixed them a good, hot breakfast on the shore to show that there were no hard feelings. He talked with them and assured them that their less-than-courageous actions did not disqualify them from His Love or His Care.

Go the distance with the Lord. Steel yourself, fortify yourself against giving up when things get tuff. Prepare for trouble because, without a doubt, trouble is coming. Fuel your spirit now. Ingest the Word of God now. Spend time with Him in prayer, meditation, in song, in fellowship, in praise and in worship. Talk with Him and listen to Him. Build your spiritual arsenal now. It is late to start gathering ammunition when the enemy is already shooting at you.

Keep walking with the Lord. The rewards are far greater than anything we may sacrifice in this life. What we see now and what we know now is not all there is.  There is so much more to come! Anticipate with Joy and Gladness whatever is next! Go the Distance. The one who endures to the end shall be saved. Not the one who makes a good start or gets halfway to the goal. 

This is the Apostle Paul's testimony. Let every believer endeavor to have this same declaration.

 2 Timothy 4:7-8 KJV

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.