Jesus goes into the town of Nain and as He goes in with His disciples and a crowd around Him, another crowd comes out carrying the dead body of a young man, the only son of his mother, a widow, crying along. Jesus sees this crowd at the gate of the town, is moved with compassion, touches the coffin and raises this dead man back to life! Death met Life and that which was dead was raised back to life! This is what we read in Luke 7:7-11,
11 Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. 12 And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, 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.13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.16 Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” 17 And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.
What would have happened if the crowd carrying the dead man had MISSED Jesus?!!! The young man would have continued to be dead and would have been buried grandly! The mother would have continued in sorrow and the crowd would have continued in its sorrow… There is no life without Jesus. Spiritual life is dead without the touch of Jesus upon it; it becomes a mere ritual. Everything in our lives is empty and dead as long as we have not met with Jesus and received His touch. We cannot afford to MISS JESUS in our lives; not at any cost. Being caught up with our lives, our everyday issues, we cannot afford to miss Him. If we miss HIM the only hope we really have is to continue to be dead: dead in our sins, dead in our relationship with Him, dead in our hopelessness, dead with our weaknesses. We will continue in the sorrow of our lives, with sorrowful people surrounding our lives, with no hope of a better future. But, if we meet with Jesus day after day and receive His touch, empty religion turns into a beautiful relationship with Him and death will turn into life.
What would have happened if the crowd carrying the dead man, knowing Jesus’ ability to raise the dead, had AVOIDED Jesus?!!! What if the dead man prior to his death had said, ‘After I die, if Jesus passes by, AVOID Him’? If he had managed to AVOID Jesus he would have continued to be a dead man!!! It’s worthless for us to avoid Jesus and go another way because we are afraid of how He will change our lives. If we really want life to flow in us, if we want to be really ALIVE, then we have to go to Jesus and meet with Him; for He is LIFE.
Yet, I think many times that’s exactly what we do – try and AVOID Jesus because we don’t want to face up to Him. We are afraid of what He may tell us or what He may ask us to do. We would rather not hear Him. We are avoiding Him every time we avoid the bible or maybe certain portions of the bible. We are avoiding Him when we don’t obey what He has already told us and yet continue to pray and read the bible as though disobedience really does not matter. We are avoiding Him when He speaks to us through His prophets and we behave as if it was really not meant for us. We cannot AVOID His word, His voice, His commandments and still continue to claim that we have fellowship with Him.
Some of us like to go to church but prefer avoiding Jesus. Jesus and the church are not one and the same. Jesus is the head of the church. Some like to be in church as long as Jesus is not their head, their Lord. They don’t mind praying to Him as long as He does not interfere with their personal lives and as long as they are allowed to live their lives as they want. It’s just not possible. Church in its religious form is a very comfortable place to be in with music, singing, the soothing teachings and the rituals. But Jesus can be a very uncomfortable person to be with at times: because HE is TRUTH. HE CONFRONTS US. The ‘church’ may not always confront us. I am not saying that the church is not important; it is important because it is the body of Jesus. A church that has Jesus as its head will be a place where we are constantly confronted with the truth of Jesus Christ. If we are true Christians, followers of Jesus, then we have to be more than willing to be confronted by Jesus. He will constantly confront us concerning our sin, our complacency, our disobedience, our worldliness. He will confront us concerning the things that we do not do as the word of God says. He will confront us with the truth and expose our lies. Are you willing to listen to His voice? Are you willing to be confronted by the one who gave His life for you? Are you willing to change when He exposes your sins and your lies? Or will you give excuses and hide from the truth because you are comfortable the way you are? Will you continue going to church and still avoid Jesus and His word so you can continue to be a people pleaser rather than a God pleaser?
The word of God spoken to us will not always comfort us. It will comfort and soothe us when we need it because Ps119:105 says that His word is sweeter than honey. But at times the word might come to us as a sledge hammer (Jer 23:29) and as shaken and pained as we would be if hit upon our heads with a hammer, so shaken and pained we will be at times after we have heard the word God; because it questions us, challenges us, confronts us. And at certain other times the word might come to us as a sword (Heb 4:12). If a sword is pierced through us it would cut through us and cause us to fall down dead. So also, when the word of God comes to us, at times, it will pierce through us and cut us to the heart and if we respond it will cause us to become dead to ourselves. The confusion and struggle the word produces in us when we listen to it is the beginning of a clearer picture of God and His ways. It is not to be avoided or rejected but rather it should be accepted and dwelt upon.
It’s very easy to avoid Jesus and His word. It’s very easy to keep praying to Him day after day and never care about what He wants to tell us. It’s a simple thing to look the other way when He speaks to us – through His word, through His prophets or even directly. But then, we will continue to be dead. The bible says that we are all dead in our sins. So, as long as we do not face up to Jesus and meet Jesus, we will continue to be dead. But when He meets with us, and touches us, and speaks His word of life to us, as He did to the dead body, saying, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise’, every part of our being will come back to life – our relationship with Him, our love for him, our health, our finances, our relationships – whatever lies dead in our lives has to come back to life when we meet Jesus face to face.
SIGNS OF A THRIVING AND LIFE FILLED RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS
A simple fact: Dead people do not know that they are dead! It’s people who are alive that notice the dead and cry for the dead…Similarly, spiritually dead people do not know they are dead! They may think they are alive but they are not. Nobody likes to believe that they are dead.
So, how do we know whether we are dead or alive spiritually ie. in our relationship with Jesus? If there is life in our relationship with Him then we would be really hungry and thirsty for more of Jesus. We would be really attracted to Jesus and the things that relate to Jesus. If we do not feel that attraction towards Him then we have missed Him somewhere, lost touch with Him. If we can no longer see His beauty, if we are not caught up with Him in our thoughts and our lives then we have lost our love for Him…there is no more life in the relationship. If a husband no longer desires for his wife, no longer is attracted to her beauty, no longer is caught up with her, then, has not life gone out of that relationship? They may still be married but there is no more true love. The relationship has become a mere ritual. So also it is with our relationship with Jesus.
Secondly, as soon as Jesus raised the young man back to life, what did He do? The bible says he sat up and began to Speak (v 15). Praise God ! If we are alive and well spiritually then we will be speaking Christians; not just quiet meditating Christians! We will be speaking about Jesus to others and declaring His praises to others. We will be spreading the gospel. We will be praising and thanking Him continually for all His good works in our lives. As the psalmist said in Ps 115:17,18, ‘ It is not the dead who praise the Lord…It is we who (are alive) that extol the Lord …’. If we have life we cannot but speak!
DON’T RUN FROM THE TRUTH: If you are spiritually dead; dead in your relationship with Jesus, accept it and face it. You might not like to believe it; you might not even feel dead, but acknowledging and accepting the truth can set you free. Don’t stay DEAD because of your PRIDE!!! Don’t stay DEAD because that way you get more attention from the crowd!!! Don’t AVOID the truth! If you do that the best you can hope for is a ‘grand funeral service’ from the crowd that surrounds you and gives you attention!
Jesus is willing to meet you and touch you and raise you to a new life… you on your part don’t miss Him or avoid Him… If your spiritual ‘life’ is dead and you feel dry and empty when you spend time with Jesus, then, it is time for a fresh touch from the master of this universe. It’s not time for some more ritualistic prayer or some ritualistic bible reading, but time for a deep touch from Him; it’s time to humble yourself before Him and cry, saying, ‘Lord, I need your touch. Meet with me once more Lord. Speak life into me Lord’. And then He will move into your life and speak His word to you and raise you – every part of you – back to life! And He will present you as a witness to the world around. Amen.