Jesus Restores Life
MAIN POINT: Jesus has a reputation for restoring people’s lives. He did it for others; He can do it for you.
TAKEAWAY: After hearing this message, your students will be given the opportunity to allow Jesus to literally and completely restore their lives.
INTRO: A story about someone who’s life has been totally restored by Jesus (from drugs, sex, abuse, alcohol, bad relationship, etc)
TRANSITION: Jesus restores life. He takes all who are hurt and crushed, those who are trapped in despair and isolation, and He restores their life. He literally restores life!
READ PASSAGE: Luke 7:11-17
DECRIBE THE SETTING:
- The meaning of “Nain” vs. what Jesus saw that day at Nain’s gate
- The widow’s real tragedy
- “Typical” Galilean funeral
JESUS RESTORES THE SON’S LIFE:
- Why did Jesus take action?
- He’s a Man of Compassion!
- “God has come to help His people!”
JESUS WILL RESTORE YOUR LIFE TOO:
- Reasons why we need our lives restored
- Like Jesus saw the widow’s need, He sees your need
- Jesus restored the lives of many sinners during His life, let Him restore yours
- Give students a chance to have their lives restored by Jesus
I’ll never forget meeting Amy.
I had traveled to Phoenix, AZ (in July!) to visit a very special youth ministry organization that dealt with troubled teenagers. No exaggeration, it was 116 degrees when I got off the plane. A married couple I knew was thinking about sending their daughter there, and they wanted me to look it over first.
The organization was actually made up of a number of “host homes” that were led by married couples who cared for the teens when they were not in main classes during the morning and evening. It was very well organized, and the students seemed to love the lead pastor and their “surrogate parents” they lived with for the 3 month – 12 month period they were there.
The Executive Director asked Pastor Carlos to give me a tour of the main facility, several host homes, introduce me to the couples who would help my friends’ daughter, and let me meet some of the students. After lunch on my very first day, Pastor Carlos drove me to one of the homes where the “mom” was conducting a small group Bible study.
There were 6 or 7 girls in the living room when we walked in. Some light snacks were lying around, and the girls had their Bibles open, ready to start their study. The “mom” and several of the girls greeted us and we quickly chatted about the morning session. They seemed to be very fond of Pastor Carlos and the care he gave them.
While Pastor Carlos was introducing me to the group of girls, he asked one of them to share their story with me. Being a teenage girl, she happily obliged!
The girl actually came from a very wealthy family in Beverly Hills, CA, and throughout her whole life, she was gripped by a life-sucking materialism. Her parents enrolled her in the organization, and in a matter of weeks, she had accepted Jesus as her Savior, and was slowly learning that the world – in fact – did NOT revolve around her.
Not wanting to be left out, the girl sitting next to her shared her story of coming to the ministry…and ultimately Christ. One by one, each of the girls gave a brief – to not so brief – testimony of how they had found Christ in this recovery ministry tucked away in Phoenix, AZ.
Pastor Carlos and I just sat on the couch listening to each of them, and then, not wanting to interrupt the Bible study further, stood up to leave.
That’s when a meek voice spoke up from the other side of the fireplace.
I remember thinking two things at the same time. First, “Wow! There’s a skinny little girl sitting all alone over there behind the fireplace that I hadn’t even noticed!” And second, “You have a fireplace! Seriously? This is Phoenix! It’s 116 degrees!! And you have a fireplace?”
The girl had simply asked, “Pastor Carlos, don’t you want to hear my story?”
I think Pastor Carlos was as taken aback as I was. He looked across me and said, “Oh, hey Amy. Sure, go ahead. Please.”
She began sheepishly. “I grew up in the Saskatchewan Province of Canada, and when I was 6, my dad began to give me beer to get me drunk so he could do things to me.”
“Before I turned 8, he was providing me with marijuana to get me high so he could continue.”
She paused again, no longer able to hold back the tears.
“I ran away when I was 11, but they found me. I really paid for that when they got me back home. The abuse didn’t stop, and when I was 12 and 13, I attempted suicide several times.”
By the way, she took a lot longer to tell her story than I’m taking to tell you. She included details that I am leaving out and she was speaking through uncontrollable sobs.
“When I was 14, I ran away again, and this time, I made it across the line, down into America. Eventually, I was picked up in Denver and brought here. That was just 13 days ago.”
She paused a long time.
“And since then, I’ve found love…for the very first time in my life. I’d never heard of Jesus before coming here.” She pointed at the host “mom” and said, “They take care of me, and are helping me be better. Just the other night I became a Christian by asking Jesus to forgive me, and now I am working on forgiving my dad.”
Here was a girl whose life had been devastated. Yeah, she grew up in a home with others, but she was lonelier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. And here she was, just a fragile little creature completely lost in her pain. Lost from love. Lost from healing. Lost from God.
And all of that changed when she met Jesus.
You see, that’s what Jesus does: He restores life.
He takes all who are hurt and crushed, those who are trapped in despair and isolation, and He restores their life. He literally restores life!
Let me say that again. He literally restores life!
If you don’t believe me, turn to Luke 7 in your Bibles. I want to discuss an almost unbelievable story with you from the life of Jesus.
While you’re flipping pages, let me set the stage a bit. We know it’s fairly early in Jesus’ ministry at this point. In fact, we know from this very chapter that John the Baptist is still alive. Yeah, Jesus has already chosen His 12 disciples, and taught the crowds a bit…even performed a few miracles, but there’s still much to come.
And here in Luke 7:11-17, Jesus really gets His ministry going with a bang. Check it out.
14Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
16They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea[a] and the surrounding country.
You know, if we’re not careful, we won’t pick up on the desperation of the moment that Luke is trying to paint for us. Luke, like any good doctor, doesn’t glaze over anything, but instead, takes all the details into account.
He tells us that Jesus had His posse of 12 disciples with Him, along with a big crowd. They’re all kicking up dust as they head south out of Capernaum toward a little village called Nain. Ironically, Nain means “pleasant,” but what Jesus saw when He got there was anything but pleasant.
Luke tells us that there was a dead boy being carried out of town. Behind the coffin was another big crowd, all mourning the loss of the young man. So, two big crowds converge at this city gate. Little did they know they would soon be the spectators to one of Jesus’ greatest miracles.
One of Luke’s details paints a grim picture. We’re told by Luke that the dead boy was the only son of his mother, and that she herself was a widow. Now, I can’t even pretend to know the pain this woman was going through concerning the loss of her son. And on top of that, she didn’t even have a husband to grieve with because he had died at some point earlier in life, too!
But rather than simply leaving it at “intense,” let me explain several reasons why this was such a tragedy back then.
- The family line ends with her death. There are no more males to carry on the family name. This may not be a big deal to us in our culture, but to an ancient Jewish person, who was known by tribe, then clan, then family, and THEN name, it was a huge deal!
- She has no one to care for her. Back then, women were almost completely cared for by their husbands and sons; we can see that from reading other passages of Scripture. They weren’t helpless by any standard, but women relied upon the men for protection, income, and influence. That’s just the way it was. So, now, this woman might be faced with having to rely on the community’s support…if they were willing to give her any, that is.
Take all this in, for a moment. As best you can, try to fit yourself into her sandals. What would you think of life? What would you think of God?
Bottom line: if there was ever a woman who felt lost and lonely in a crowd – or two crowds – it was this woman.
What’s really cool to me about this story is how quickly Jesus sees the situation and takes action. If this was a “normal” Galilean funeral – and we have every reason to believe that it was – the crowd itself tipped Jesus off that there was something wrong here besides the fact that someone had died.
You see, during funerals that were held in Galilee, the mother would walk in front of the funeral procession with other family members BEHIND her. THEN, the dead body followed, usually carried on a special stand. FINALLY, relatives, friends, and mourners followed the corpse. When Jesus saw the woman in front of the funeral procession with no one between her and the coffin, Jesus instantly realized that the woman was a widow and went to work.
It’s funny to me to listen to “Bible experts” talk about this story. They constantly ask questions about why Jesus raised the kid back to life, and why Luke would take the time to mention it in his gospel.
Some of those experts say that Jesus was trying to be like the Old Testament prophets Elijah and Elisha. Both of those guys raised widows’ sons from the dead, too. In fact, some of the parallels are even a bit uncanny, like actually meeting the widow at the town gate, just as Jesus did here. (You can read about that for yourself in 1 Kings 17 and 2 Kings 4.)
But some say, “No, it had nothing to do with that Old Testament Jewish stuff. Since Luke was a Gentile, not a Jew, he included the story in his gospel to show that Jesus was better than Roman sorcerers.”
Roman mythology tells of a princess who died on the day of her wedding, and the groom was so heartbroken that he followed her coffin, weeping for the marriage that never happened. All of Rome was mourning with him, for the maiden belonged to an important family. Apollonius, a local magician, witnessed their grief, said, “Put down the coffin, and I will stop the tears you are shedding for this maiden.” Merely touching her and whispering a spell over her, he raised the maiden from her death.
Ok, did Jesus align Himself with the Old Testament prophets through this miracle? Maybe. Did Jesus show that He was more powerful than Roman magicians in this miracle? Definitely!
But, we don’t have to look any further than the story itself to see why Jesus raised this young man from the dead! It’s written right here!
We’re told that Jesus’ heart went out to the woman. In other words, He had compassion on her. He acted in a simple way, but a way in which most other rabbis would be unwilling to act. You see, most rabbis – or teachers – wouldn’t be all that concerned with the affairs of a woman. But Jesus was. Most rabbis were not willing to touch death, because it would make them “unclean.” Jesus wasn’t worried about that, either. In this one miracle, Jesus distanced Himself from so many others.
Jesus is a Man of compassion, and He simply acted according to His compassion.
And look what happened in the hearts of the people when Jesus raised the boy from the dead. The people all shouted, “God has come to help His people.”
These people were beginning to see what Jesus wanted them to see. After all, it was Jesus who said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). And “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Finally, “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
At various times throughout the Bible, when there was a desperate need, God personally and supernaturally intervened on the behalf of His people. This was just another instance.
Let’s turn the corner here. This isn’t some story that just happened a long time ago. And this story wasn’t included in the Bible to make us envious or jealous. It’s here for us because it’s true for us. Jesus gave this nameless kid new life. He gave Amy, my friend from Phoenix, new life.
He’ll give you new life!
Maybe you walked in here lost or lonely. Granted, the majority of us have not experienced the amount of pain this widow faced that day, however, there are a few of us in this room who can relate somewhat.
Sometimes, life has a way of sucker punching you in the gut. You just get the wind knocked out of you. You’ve been pummeled, and the only thing that’s a guarantee anymore, is your loneliness and pain. Perhaps you were betrayed. Maybe you were lied to. Maybe you faced a huge storm in life. Maybe, you’ve suffered through a broken relationship. All of those can be scary and leave us feeling lost and alone.
But some of us are lost or lonely because of our own doing. Maybe you’ve drifted a little too far from the life you know God wants for you, and if you’re honest, you’ll admit to being lost. If you’re a guy, you won’t admit that publically, so I won’t ask for a show of hands. But, you’ve strayed and you know it. In other words, you know God and say you love Him, but your actions don’t always show it. You’ve drifted from your commitment to Him.
Maybe you have allowed some sin or fear or temptation to isolate you into loneliness. Guys, the Devil is good at his job. He lies and tells us that everyone is participating in some particular sin, and he’s relentless until we cave. Then the moment we do, he lies to us and tells us that we’re the only one who has ever fallen for that lie. Now, he convinces us that we must hide. In the end, we are shameful and alone.
Or it could be that you’ve never begun a relationship with God through Jesus, period. You’ve never asked for His forgiveness of known sin and you’ve never asked Him to lead your life. You don’t have new life…because you’ve never asked for it. Simple as that.
But Jesus still restores life. Just like He did for this boy; just like He did for Amy.
He sees our needs just as clearly and just as quickly as He did when He walked into that dusty village two thousand years ago. He immediately saw that it was a widow who was burying her only son and understood her severe need. He instantly sees our need, too. He even sees our need though we put on masks and front facades of a false reality.
And when we allow Him to restore our lives, He acts in ultimate compassion just as He did two thousand years ago with this widow. His heart goes out to us, as well.
You may be sitting in here tonight saying to yourself, “Yeah, but I’m not as innocent as this widow was. She probably didn’t do anything to deserve the awful situation she was facing. But I have.” If that’s you, hear me say, “Jesus has personally dealt with thieves, rebels, hypocrites, the sexually immoral, the spiritually confused, and even the demonically possessed…all with the utmost of compassion!” Just read through the four gospels and you’ll see the kind of characters Jesus had compassion on.
Jesus showed compassion to every single one of them, and He restored their life. Totally. Just like the young boy in this story.
So, before we close up shop tonight, let’s take a silent, personal moment and ask God to restore our lives. Let’s be transparent with Him and tell Him the ways in which we are lost and lonely. Let’s allow Him to show us compassion so that our lives can be restored.
There’s literally no wrong way to do this. Relax, you can’t mess it up! If you’ve never put your faith in Christ as the Savior, but know you need to, then take this opportunity to make Him your Savior now. Let Him literally restore your life.
If you’ve placed your trust in Him weeks, months, or years ago, but you know that you need Him to show you compassion for where you are right now, ask Him for it.
In the end, let it be said by us, “God has come to help His people.”
David R. Smith is the author of several books including Christianity... It's Like This and speaks to parents and leaders across the U.S. David is a 15-year youth ministry veteran, now a senior pastor, who specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.