Week 2 | Tuesday
Week 2: Who Does Jesus Care About?
Jesus & a Widow
by Janet Nygren
Read: Luke 7: 11-17
14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers 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.” 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
- There are four groups of people that have come to be known as the “quartet of the vulnerable” in the Old Testament: widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor. They are often lumped together in Scripture as those God has special regard for–the people in greatest need who are often neglected. What makes the widow in this story particularly vulnerable, causing Jesus’ heart to go out to her?
- As you look at Jesus’ interactions here, how do his care and priorities come through?
- In the Elijah story, the widow declares, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth” (1 Kings 17:24). The people surrounding Jesus in today’s story say, “God has come to help his people” (Luke 7:16). How do Jesus’ words and actions help to make God more present and real to his people?
- There’s a difference between knowing about God and knowing God. An experience like this (especially to those present) might make all the difference in making God more real–in a sense causing a “spiritual” resurrection. Have you experienced such a thing in your own life? If so, how did it change your outlook
- “God has come to help his people” (Luke 7:16). It is a reminder that, in the end, we can do nothing without God’s help. I invite you to repeat this ancient prayer, the Kyrie Eleison, and sit with God in silence:
- The people who witnessed this miracle continued to spread news about Jesus with those they knew (v. 17). Is there someone in your own circles who would benefit from knowing what you are learning about Jesus? Do you have a story about knowing Jesus, not just knowing about him, that you can share with this community?
I had never heard of “the quartet of the vulnerable”. Certainly this woman (and her son) were three parts of the quartet. It is interesting to ponder this miracle. We don’t know the mother or the son’s name. I wonder what became of them. It would seem likely that they became “Jesus Followers”. As word about Jesus spread, people’s excitement about Him spread. It was all by word of mouth. We must remember the power of our witness. Kaitlyn has been teaching us to tell our story. It is important to share not only our successes but also our failures. In vulnerably sharing, our lives become the “salt” and “light” Jesus called us to be in a world that is spoiling and dark. Word of mouth and transformed lives continue to be the best way of spreading the Gospel and bringing in the Kingdom.
The worship song "nothing else" reminds me that in Genesis God's original plan was to simply have fellowship with his people. " I'm caught up in Your presence-- I just want to sit here at Your feet --I'm caught up in this holy moment== I never wanna leave --Oh, I'm not here for blessings Jesus, --You don't owe me anything-- More than anything that You can do I just want You" Whether God answers my prayers the way I expect or not, the act of prayer and communication with Him is a Holy moment.
I am so struck by Jesus' heart of compassion: "his heart went out to her, and he said, "Don't cry." It almost seems like a chance encounter, that they just happened to come across this scene, and Jesus sees her and immediately responds. It is so comforting to see Jesus' heart of compassion and mercy. I sometimes feel compassion for people, but then another part of my brain kicks in that says, "be careful, don't get too involved, this situation is too complicated," etc. and I don't do anything. I want to be more like Jesus, and I want more people to know about his compassion.
This is reminding me of Naomi's story that we read in our Youversion heroes plan. She lost her husband and sons, and Ruth was the only one left to care for her daily needs. I'm not sure how old this woman or her son are here, but it's likely that he is the only person supporting her, if he was old enough to work--so immediate poverty is piled on top of her grief and loss.
I remember God showing up for AJ and me early in our marriage. Things were so hard that we could barely pay the rent, let alone eat well, and one night we finally sent the kids to their dads for dinner because we weren't sure what we were going to feed them. We didn't tell anyone because we were so ashamed and didn't want to scare the kids, but we prayed that God would help us--and my sister and her friend showed up with bags of groceries, plenty for a couple weeks.
Then when the kids came home, their dad brought a bag of meats, even steak! God provided far beyond what we needed, and this absolutely helped me to feel his presence in a real, tangible way.
I am often struck by the mysterious nature of how God's word can be so personal. I have had many occasions where what I am reading that day is just what I need to hear, as if it was intended just for me, in that moment. How that works when I am just going with "the next passage" usually, is beyond me. But I am so thankful for a living God, who continues to know me, see me, and have compassion for me. It wasn't always this way for me in my faith.
This is my brother and my story. His intestinal track was outside his body cavity, so much so that he looked 9 months pregnant. I took him to a surgeon who wasn't comfortable doing surgery because of his COPD, his age and his heart that is severely damaged. Many months later he had an intestinal blockage. It took the team of doctors days to decide if this surgery could be done without causing his death. But on the other hand if they didn't he would die anyways so they agreed to go ahead. With that realization I agreed to let the surgery go forth. It took 8 hours, of course I was praying the whole time. He survived the surgery but the next few days were still touch and go. Could they get him off the respirator. They tried once, twice then the third time he came off. God showed Himself real to us. Miracle worker, promise keeper...this is our Lord. So many times I doubt God's healing seeing my friends passing away after many years of praying for them. I have to recall this miracle He did for my brother so I don't lose sight that God is still in the miracle business.
In this miracle, I see the gentle heart of Christ. He was always, and is always so in tune with the needs right around Him. And then, of course, we see His authority as well as He raises the young man from the dead. What an amazing combination we have in our Savior.