Luke 7:11-16 (NIV) 11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out–the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” 14 Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”
On verses 11-16: So far in Luke’s gospel we have seen Jesus’ supremacy over evil spirits, over sickness, over nature, and over the Sabbath. Now here we see Jesus’ supremacy over death.
Here we have a tale of two crowds. One crowd is led by Jesus. The other crowd is led by death, at least figuratively speaking. When these two crowds meet, team Jesus swallows up team death, as Jesus raises back to life the dead and only son of the grieving widow. The crowd that was led by death is now in awe of someone who has shown himself greater than death.
This miracle of Jesus raising the dead and only son of a grieving widow also points us forward to what would happen later as Jesus Himself, God’s only Son, would die and rise again. In Jesus we have a Saviour who is greater than death.
Luke 7:17-23 (NIV) 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. 18 John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” 20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?'” 21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 23 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
On verses 17-23: About John the Baptist Jesus would say, “among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Luke 7:28). In other words, in Jesus’ estimation, there was never a man greater than John the Baptist. And yet notice that even John the Baptist experienced a season of doubt and had to get reassurance from Jesus.
Keep in mind that John the Baptist had been Jesus’ greatest champion and proponent. Now, however, John is in prison for preaching against King Herod’s incestuous relationship with Herodias, and John begins to doubt whether Jesus is the Messiah.
Notice how Jesus responds to John’s doubt. Jesus does not condemn John. Rather, Jesus points John to the facts: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (v22) Then Jesus encourages John, saying, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” (v23)
What can we learn from this? At one point or another, all of us, even the best of us, may go through a period of doubting our faith. From personal experience I’ve learned that what you do in those times is crucial. Don’t just pridefully or impetuously abandon your faith. Instead, if ever you go through a period of doubting what you believe, here are two things you can do:
Go back to the facts. Notice that when Jesus heard that John was doubting, Jesus pointed John to the facts (v22). Similarly, instead of just relying on how you feel, focus on the facts. When you’re unsure about a lot of things, go back to the few things you can be very sure about and use that as your starting point.
Humbly bring your questions to Jesus. Often when we wrestle with doubt, it’s not that faith is completely gone; rather, our faith may be shaken in certain areas. With the measure of faith that you have, bring your questions to Jesus, just like John did.
When you deal with your doubts humbly and proactively, I believe God will use your season of doubt to build a stronger faith in you for the long-term.
Lord Jesus, I’m so glad I get to follow the only One who is greater than death. And thank You that when I go through doubts You gently lead me back to Yourself. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!