Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Their Tears Didn’t Have Time to Dry

Written by: Erik Raymond

Funerals are emotional. They are more than what we typically classify as such. Emotionally speaking, they are like a 2-liter of soda shaken by an ornery 7-year-old. There are so many hot wires ready to strike one another and explode.

As a culture, we (Americans in particular) like to pretend that these emotions don’t exist. Like young children, we are good at playing dress up. In contrast, the ancient culture, particularly the Jewish context at the time of Jesus, funerals we a spectacle of lament. Professional mourners were often brought in to encourage the expression of wailing. They dressed up the other way.

People were better at expressing themselves then; we are better at suppressing ourselves now.

These two facts intersect in Luke 7. Jesus is walking to a town called Nain along with his disciples and a great crowd (Lk. 7:11). As they approached the town, they come to a funeral. The dead man was the only son of his mother. In addition to the emotional pain that goes with losing her son she was now hopelessly bound in a financial vice.

Jesus, full of compassion, speaks words of sovereign authority to the woman, “Do not weep,” he says to her. Without his power and love these words would appear heartless, cold and inappropriate. But he is powerful, loving, and gracious.

Jesus approaches the bier (a plank that served as an open coffin) and puts his hand on it and says, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” (Lk. 7:14).

And with full power on display, “the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.” (7:15)

Here in a matter of moments sorrow turned to fear which then turned to joy. The tears didn’t even have time to dry; they went from songs of lament to praises.

There are so many fully fermented Christian intersections here, but I will limit myself to just a few observations.

1) Do you see the beautiful marriage here of compassion and sovereignty by Jesus? I love how he sees this woman’s brokenness and hopelessness and then moves to meet her needs by his power. I can relate to this.

2) Since I was dead spiritually, I can relate to the man on the plank. In fact, he is a perfect picture of me outside of Jesus. As one who was dead and trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-3, 3:1-12) I was as hopeless for spiritual life as he was for physical life.

3) Similarly to the dead man, I too arose when Jesus came near and spoke authoritative words of regeneration to me through the gospel. I can still remember that day when my dead ears heard the Savior say, “Young man, I say to you arise.” As with this man I too got up.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off; my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off; my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

4) Their mourning corresponds with their joy, and our joy corresponds with our mourning. I believe there is a lesson here for us about the suppression of emotions. These people knew how to cry, both in terms of lament and praise. We often do not. I think if we learned to smell the grave clothes of sin and death (Rom. 6.23) then we might better smell and savor the fragrance of grace and life.

5) This scene anticipates the resurrection of Christ. In due time Jesus too would die. Himself an only son, the glory and hope of so many, he would bow his head and die. As demonstrated here, he has power over the grave. He would gloriously rise from the dead, crushing sin, Satan and death like an empty beer can underfoot. He rose victoriously from the grave. We too, who have faith in him, will one day take our last step in this world. Our eyes will close only to open again in Emmanuel’s land. We shall awake, just like this young man, to see Jesus. It is there, and then we will cry tears of joy and thanksgiving before him.

Their Tears Didn’t Have Time to Dry is a post from: Erik Raymond

No comments:

Post a Comment