The Sunday Sermon: Jesus Gave Him to His Mother
Rev’d Thomas J. Pettigrew
Proper 5-C 2016
Luke 7:11-17 (Jesus Raises the Widow’s Son)
+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Over the last six months, basically from Advent through the end of Easter, we’ve been on a track of readings which focus our attention on seasonal themes: During Advent we read about the first and second coming of the Christ; Christmas was about birth of Christ and the revelation of Christ to the world; in Lent we focused our attention on the Lenten themes of repentance and preparation for the Paschal Feast; during Easter, we turned out attention to the appearances of Jesus, among other things. Then there was Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and just last week, Corpus Christi.
This morning, we change gears as we head off into the Summer months, to a more systematic reading through of Luke’s Gospel.
This morning we pick up in the midst of the Seventh Chapter of Luke, to the account of the Raising of the Widow of Nain’s Son.
Let me give you a little background first. Early the day before, Jesus had gone up a mountain with his disciples, and from among them, he had chosen the Twelve men who would be his closest companions for the rest of his ministry – we call them the Apostles. That afternoon he came down from the mountain, and he gave what is in Luke’s gospel, the equivalent of the Sermon on the Mount – sometimes referred to the sermon on the plain. When he had finished speaking, he went to Capernaum, on the Shore of the Sea, and he heals the servant of a centurion.
The next day, Jesus moves out from Capernaum, and was going to a town called Nain, which was southeast of his home town of Nazareth. Ther was a large crowd with Jesus and as he came to the walls of the city, to one of the gates which one had to pass through to enter, he met a funeral cortege. Luke tells us “a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her.”
It’s here, in the midst of two large crowds – one full of weeping, mourning, and sadness, at the death of their fellow citizen, and another, full of wonder as the thought about all the things which Jesus had taught about the day before – in the midst of these two crowds, the Lord sees the grieving mother, and he has compassion on her. And speaking only the words “Do not weep” he approaches the bier and touches it, a silent indication to the pall bearers to stop. “Young man, I say to you, arise.” Luke tells us that at those words, “the dead man sat up, and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.”
There are two other accounts of Jesus raising someone from the dead in the Gospels: Jarius’ Daughter, and Lazareth, the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany.
We may be tempted to think that the miracle which Jesus wrought in raising the son was for the benefit of the Son – to save him from death, perhaps. But Luke’s telling of the story tell us different.
Jesus compassion wasn’t for the boy on the bier. Rather, the one who Jesus had compassion upon, the one he sought to comfort was the mother. Luke tells us “he had compassion on her and said to her ‘do not weep’”.
Rather than the focus being on the dead man, Jesus draws out attention to the living woman – the one who suffered the most from the loss, first of her husband, and now of her only Son.
We could think about why Jesus had such compassion on her over the loss of her son – on her grief, but rather I want us to focus on something more.
In response to her grief, Jesus gave her back her son. Luke says “he came forward and touched the beir…” and said “Young man I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.”
Jesus gave him to his mother.
That’s what struck me about our passage this morning.
There is something here which tells us that our life is not our own. It does not belong to us, and we do not live it for ourselves.
Jesus did not raise the dead man for the dead man’s sake. Rather, he raised the dead man for the sake of someone else. The life he gave back to the Son was not meant for the son, but rather for others.
There’s something here that we learn about Jesus’ own resurrection – he was not resurrected for himself, but rather, he was raised for the life of the world – he was raised for someone else- for you and for me – that we might not grieve death, that we might indeed have life and have it abundantly in him.
And finally, there is something in this short little story that reminds us that the life which Christ has won for us – which he has given us in our baptism, which he nourishes with his own Sacramental Body and Blood on the altar – that life we have is not for our own sake.
It is for the sake of others – our life is a gift that has been given, not to us, but to the world.
The world around us is full of self-centered, self-aggrandizing, self-infatuated people, who are only interested in three people: me, myself, and I.
But our lives as Christians are meant to be markedly different than the world around us. Our lives are not for ourselves, but are a gift to those around us.
Our Lord himself said “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
More than anything else, everyone who looks at us should know that we are Christians by the way that we love one another.
Love is never about me – it’s not about my own ego, but rather, it’s about me reaching out into the world.
Jesus gave the Son to his mother.
Our heavenly Father, gave Jesus to you and to me.
Jesus gave us life – his life
And that life we have been given, which Is not our own, is meant to be given to others in and which the same love which it has been given to us.