INI + AMEN.
((5. Oops!: The widow has grief upon grief.))
The sadness of it all. The grief. The anguish. It’s not supposed to be this way—not ever! It’s horrific, tragic. “A dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow.” Who can really imagine her grief? She’s got grief upon grief. Her husband’s dead, and now her only son is, too. Death. Endless grief.
Who would’ve been absent? Probably not many. A large portion of Nain mourned with her. Everything brought to a standstill by the grief and tragedy of this woman’s life. But they’d move on. They’d pay their respects to her, to her son, just like they did with her husband, I’m sure. But in a day or two, there’d be other news, other things to do. But not for her.
Who’d care for her now? A hard life awaited her. No insurance. A childless widow would only have what Yahweh promised through Moses: “When you reap your harvest…and forget a sheaf in the field, don’t go back to get it. When you beat your olive trees, don’t go over them again. When you gather your grapes, don’t strip [the vine] afterward.” A lifetime of gleanings, leftovers for this widow’s grief upon grief.
((4. Ugh!: We, too, have grief and death.))
But every death is tragic and horrifying. Even for us. We live in a world of grief and death, too. Every life that ends in death is a life cut short. So, every death really is tragic, even today. Maybe not by way of comparison. (To compare is to say that the widow’s situation, or that this or that or another situation is worse or better by some worldly standard.) Comparison’s cold comfort, though. Grief is grief.
Not only do we have grief, we’ve got death, too! We’re all going to die. So many ways to die. It really is one of the surest things in life: death. No way to stop it. The only thing that stops is your heart. Then what?
Each time and place has its grief and pain, its death and sadness. “The wages of sin” are paid out in full! The funeral processions go on and on and on. More death. More grief. Grief upon grief upon grief. Death upon death upon death. Caskets and cemeteries full of grief and death!
((3. Aha!: Grief and death meet their match in Jesus.))
But grief and death meet their match in Jesus. It’s not just the town there with that woman. Jesus was going to that town called Nain, “and His disciples and a great crowd went with Him.” Yes, “the ranks of death, the Lord of Life / Stood face to face that hour.” At the gate of Nain they meet: Jesus, the woman, both crowds, her son. “And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her.”
((2. Whee!: JESUS KILLS DEATH AND ENDS GRIEF.))
And when the Lord has compassion, He does something about it. When He visits His people, He saves. So, how do grief and death meet their match in Jesus? Easy! JESUS KILLS DEATH AND ENDS GRIEF. And so He calls for her grief and sadness to end. “He said to her, ‘Don’t cry.’” A Word from our Lord to end her grief.
But our Lord isn’t done with His Word. No! He speaks to him, to the dead man: “Young man, I say to you, ‘Arise!’” Then death is done, death is dead for that man. “He sits up and begins to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother.”
JESUS KILLS DEATH AND ENDS GRIEF. But not just in Nain by Word. No, He doesn’t just speak to death, or touch it at arms length, like He touched that man’s casket. No, Jesus goes through it! He dies! On Calvary, on His cross, He willingly submits to death. The Lord of Life, the Creator of the Universe, is swallowed up by death. At Calvary JESUS KILLS DEATH, and if death is dead, there’s no more grief. Easter shows that. Jesus kills death from the inside, and three days later bursts back to life. At Nain Jesus just delivers Calvary and Easter ahead of time with a Word. At Nain He does what He came to do: KILL DEATH AND END GRIEF.
((1. Yeah!: We live in the time of no grief but death, waiting for an eternity with neither.))
And now, you and I live in the time of no grief but death, all the while waiting for an eternity with neither of those things. We don’t have grief. Well, not endless grief, anyway. We grieve in hope because of what Jesus has done for us. Jesus not only died and rose—that would be enough and is! But yet more from Him!—He delivers His death and His resurrection. Jesus’ empty tomb is your empty grave. That’s Holy Baptism. He pours the forgiveness of sins, the medicine of eternal life down your throat in His body and blood. There “the Lord visits His people,” visits you to save you. When He gives you to eat His flesh and drink His blood, He’s delivering the promise to resurrect your body to eternal life on the Last Day. Apart from His body and blood, there is no such promise for you.
What Jesus did in Nain, He’ll do again. And it won’t just be casket here or a casket there. What the Lord Jesus did in Nain, He’ll do right outside that window! His power will touch all caskets everywhere, and the bodies of His dear saints will sit up, rise up, resurrect to eternal life—you will, too! He will bring each of us body and soul through the gate of eternal life where there is no more grief, no more death, and so He will fulfill the promise and gift of His Baptism, fulfill the promise and gift of His body and His blood.
JESUS KILLS DEATH AND ENDS GRIEF. Nothing stops Jesus from doing that. Cross and grave couldn’t hold Him. He delivers that to you from His Font and His Altar. No sickness, no death, no cancer, no SIDS, no heart attack, no nothing can or will ever stop Him! Not ever! He resurrects from the dead. All death dies at His hands and side and empty tomb. He kills all death! Now, death can’t stop you either—not in Him. You are in Him—only His Baptism and body and blood say so. An empty grave and casket delivered at the Font! The inoculation against death in the bread. Eternal life-blood delivered in the cup. All for you forever!
INI + AMEN.