ADVENT 2021 DEVOTIONAL
As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
(Luke 7:12-15, English Standard Version, emphasis added)
“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
(Matthew 6:8, ESV)
When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.”
(Mark 6:34, ESV)
Today’s Reading: Luke 7
If you’ve lived for very long, you’ve likely experienced a traumatic moment, when time seems to slow down as your heart is gripped with grief or worry. You realize that you’re holding your breath, and you have to remind yourself to inhale and exhale. Only when your new reality sinks in do you allow yourself to weep.
As a human living in a fallen world, you’re familiar with tragedy. Unexpected illness, broken relationships or the loss of one you love will remind you how vulnerable you are. This is the state in which the Lord finds a grieving mother in Luke 7 as she walks in the procession of her only son’s funeral.
While anyone today can sympathize with the agony of losing a child, in Jesus’ time, this woman could anticipate further suffering in the aftermath of her loss. As a widow who was now also childless, she had no one left to provide for her needs. Not only was her family gone, but so was her assurance that tomorrow she’d have a home and food.
But as we see time and again in the life of Jesus, He is moved with compassion in response to suffering. He sees a desperate soul, and He acts. After comforting the mother, Jesus crosses sacred religious barriers by approaching the dead stranger. And then He raises him to life.
This chapter is full of examples of a compassionate Lord who grants real people exactly what they need when they need it. In the preceding passage, Jesus heals the servant of a Roman leader who humbly asks for mercy (Luke 7:1-10); in the passage immediately following, John the Baptist needs reassurance of his faith in Christ, and Jesus sends strengthening words (Luke 7:18-35).
And at the end of the chapter, a sinful woman washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and anoints them with her prized perfume. All the while, an indignant Pharisee named Simon looks on in self-important disapproval (Luke 7:36-50). Jesus forgives the woman’s sins, acknowledging her faith and love. But more than that, He also lovingly confronts Simon.
In “The Jesus Storybook Bible,” Sally Lloyd Jones paraphrases what Jesus says to Simon: “You look down on this woman because you don’t look up to God. She is sinful on the outside — but you are sinful on the inside” (p. 285). It can be tempting to feel, in reading through the New Testament, that Jesus loves the “sinners” and is simply frustrated with the religious elite. But Jesus gives the Pharisees what they need too: a call to humility and the truth that they need God’s mercy as desperately as anyone else.
So, in those moments when the world feels like it has stopped spinning, no matter who you are, you can look to God, and He will see you and lovingly give you just what you need.
Have you experienced a “world-stopping” moment lately? Or are you in a place where life is good — and maybe it’s harder to see that God is the One meeting your daily needs? Whatever the case, pray that the God of compassion would help you connect with His merciful heart and open your eyes to the good gifts He is pleased to give.
Rebecca Kelsall has a B.A. in multimedia journalism and works for Cru telling stories of all the great things God does. Originally from New Mexico, she lives in Saint Cloud, Florida, with her New-Englander husband and their dachshund-beagle, Belle. Her hobbies include reading, writing fiction and spoiling her 10 nieces and nephews.
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