First Lesson: 1 Kings 17: 8-16, (17-24)
Responsive Reading: Psalm 146
Second Lesson: Galatians 1: 11-24
Gospel Lesson: Luke 7: 11-17
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Luke 7:11- I want to tell you this morning the story of a woman that I’ll call Joanna who lived in a town called Nain. Joanna’s life was nothing special. She lived in a conventional home of stone and mud-brick. She spent her days like any other woman around: grinding wheat, fetching water, cooking meals, and cleaning clothes. During the Galilean harvest, Joanna would help gather olives. One thing you should know about Joanna is that a few years ago, she had become a widow. Joanna’s husband’s was a good and kind man who she missed every day. The thing about death though is it seems to be so certain that life has to go on as normal. Joanna’s life was now in the care of her son that we will call Jonathan. Jonathan was Joanna’s only son. Joanna was unable to conceive any additional children. Another thing that you need to know about Joanna is that her entire existence was dependent on being cared for by the men in her family. While this might not make much sense today, this was the reality of the world in which Joanna lived. Women in Joanna’s day were not able to get jobs as a way to pay the bills nor were they able to inherit the land. Joanna never saw this as a problem because she had her young strapping son taking care of her. Everything seemed to be going well until one day. Jonathan grew ill, at first, it appeared to be nothing. Jonathan’s condition kept growing worse until he breathed his last breath. Joanna screamed out at agony upon witnessing Jonathan’s death. Joanna was going to be forced to bury her own child. Joanna was going to be living every parent’s worst nightmare!
Luke 7:12- Jonathan’s funeral procession took place the very next day. Such a practice was the Jewish custom. Jews from all over Nain came to grieve Joanna’s loss. People were sad not because they knew Joanna real well. Joanna was like a movie character who even though you don’t know them, you weep for their circumstances. Joanna was the woman who had a tornado destroy her home, only to have no insurance to rebuild it. So Jonathan’s funeral procession began to march away from the city gate to bury Jonathan. At the same time, Joanna began to walk away from Nain, a large crowd that appeared to be at least a dozen people is approaching the city. The funeral procession soon meets the traveling party. Joanna knew nothing about who was in this crowd. Both groups exchange eye-contact but no answers appear to be forthcoming.
Luke 7:13- A man steps from out of the crowd approaching Joanna. The man didn’t look out of the ordinary. Joanna had no idea why this man would approach her. There would seem to be no reason for this man to care especially about the fate of Jonathan. This man begins to speak “ Do not weep.” Who is this guy, Joanna wondered? How can I not weep, I am alone, and I will live the rest of my life as a charity case. These words initially struck Joanna as “insensitive” or “thoughtless.” The man from the crowd though had compassion upon Joanna. You see compassion is a funny thing. Compassion is not merely issuing beautiful words of comfort. Compassion is action when the action doesn’t benefit you in any way, shape, or form. Compassion is a Samatrian man helping his natural enemy who lies beaten on the side of the road. The man from the crowd for his act of compassion was going to approach Jonathan’s body.
Luke 7:14- I should tell you a little bit more about this man and the funeral scene. Jonathan did not lay in a box or a coffin like they do today. Instead, Jonathan was being carried out in the open for the entire world to see. The man from the crowd does something shocking and unexpected as the people look on. The man from the crowd touches Jonathan’s body. The man from the crowd’s touch was shocking and in violation of Jewish customs. “Whoever touches the body of a dead person shall be unclean for seven days,” says the Book of Numbers.  The man from the crowd though expressed a comfort level in the presence of death like no one else that Joanna had seen before. The Rabbis would never dare do such a thing as the man from the crowd did. The man from the crowd touched death. The man from the crowd reached to feel death’s reality. The man from the crowd attempted to bring the dead back to life. “Young man, I say to you, arise.”
People wondered upon hearing these words, who was the man from the crowd to be able to demand such things. Tension began to build within the group, wondering what might happen next as soon as they hear these words. Hundreds of people were now quiet enough that you could hear a pin drop. Honestly, people weren’t expecting much. Death was the team losing 44-0 with two minutes left on the clock. No amount of motivational speeches would turn around a hopeless situation.
Luke 7:15- Yet then it happened! Imagine the most shocking thing that you have seen in your life and multiply it by eternity. It was the man from the crowd’s touch and words that Jonathan rose back up to life like nothing was even wrong in the first place. Jonathan leaped off the funeral bier into Joanna’s embrace. The crowd cheered like the Twins had just won the World Series! Exuberance was all around! There was still an important question left to answer. Why would the man from the crowd do such a thing? You see the man from the crowd had made a habit in his life of seeking to reach those who were powerless and felt invisible. Later in his life, he would encounter a short man named Zacchaeus who was the least popular man in town. The man from the crowd would even dare step into Zacchaeus’ home regardless of what anyone else thought about it. Why Joanna? Why Jonathan? No real reason at all. Joanna never asks for Resurrection. No one would cite Jonathan as a model of faith. Joanna doesn’t know the man from the crowd’s name. By the way, his name was Jesus, in case you were curious. The man from the crowd sought to bestow grace on this day to both Joanna and Jonathan. People will define grace all sorts of different ways. I like to describe grace as what God does for us. Grace is a healing of the obstacles of sin and death that we cannot overcome on our own. Grace would come down from heaven to earth in an even more dramatic fashion later though within the man from the crowd’s life.
Luke 7:16- The crowd was amazed at what they had seen. “A great prophet has arisen among us.” There had been great prophets who performed miracles before. Moses parted the Red Sea. Elijah had called down fire from heaven. Both Elijah and Elisha had raised widow’s sons from the dead. What had happened on this day though was different. The man from the crowd doesn’t pray to God to act. The man from the crowd invoked God by himself. It was almost as if this ordinary looking man from the crowd was God or something like that. The man from the crowd would soon do what neither Moses, Elijah, or Elisha had done before him. The man from the crowd would soon overcome the grave on his own. He would walk out of his only tomb like nothing was wrong in the first place just like in the story of Joanna and Jonathan. “God has truly come to help his people.”
Luke 7:17- Word of this miracle in Nain began to spread throughout all the land. Even John the Baptist heard this story as he sat in prison. The point of the story of Joanna, Jonathan, and the man from the crowd is this. Brokenness is in the world around us. There is no greater sign of this brokenness than death. What we see today in the story of Joanna and Jonathan is brokenness is not God’s intention for humanity. God does not will cancer! God does not will poverty! God does not will suffering! The main point of our story is that there will be times in our life when we feel like Joanna. We will lose people that we dearly love. We will have moments where we long for the smallest signs of hope. We will wish that there is a prophet that comes out of the crowd to touch the dead and bring them back to life. What our story reminds us is that Resurrection can happen at any moment. The man from the crowd can bring hope in the midst of your great brokenness. The following story is our Gospel lesson of Jesus healing the Widow of Nain’s Son. Amen
 Luke 10:25-37.
 Numbers 19:11
 Luke 19:1-10
 Buchanan, Rev. Dr. Kimberleigh. “ From Procession to Party.”. Day 1. 10. June.2007. Web. May.30.2016.
 Exodus 14:21
 1 Kings 18:38
 1 Kings 17:22, 2 Kings 4:34
 Zingale, Tim. “Jesus’ Loving Heart”. Sermon Central. June 2007. Web. May.30.2016.
 Romans 6:23.
 Zingale, Tim. “Jesus’ Loving Heart”
 Lind Hogan, Lucy. “Commentary on Luke 7:11-17”. Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul, Minnesota. 05.June.2016. Web. May.29.2016.
 Luke 7:11-17.