Luke 7:11-17: Fear Seized Them All
July 1, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Jesus’ astonishing miracles continue, this time raising a young man from the dead. Here in human flesh is the Lord of all glory, who is the resurrection and the life. Note that the “Lord saw” the widow (7:13). Jesus is not ignorant of our difficulties, does not turn a blind eye to our problems, does not hide his face from his people. He hears our cries. He sees our distress. Let us then confidently bring to God in prayer the earnest needs and hopes of our hearts. He loves to hear his people pray. He notices us. He sees us.
Note also that if Jesus is like this, so also are his people to be. It is too easy for us to turn a blind eye to the distress of a Christian brother or sister and pretend that we do not notice, or try our best not to do so. When we “pass by on the other side,” we avert our gaze to tame the tender conscience that we feel inside. But instead, let us begin by looking. By seeing. When we look at the difficulties of those around us, see them, take them in, it is much harder for us to act without generosity, care, or compassion.
Note that he had “compassion” on the widow (7:13). It is one thing to see; it is another thing to act. But God is a God who not only sees our difficulties but has compassion on them. “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son.” God’s love for us motivates him to act for us and rescue us. We, those who follow Jesus, are similarly to be people of compassion. Let us not harden our hearts to those who are caught in a sin—if we are frank with ourselves, we know that we too are sinners. Let us not harden our hearts to those who are weaker than we are—if we are honest with ourselves, we know that there are times when we are weak as well. Let us not be people who are “valiant for truth” but “hard hearted” to the poor at the same time! We should not be like that, brothers and sisters; we are to be those who hold out “truth with love” as the apostle Paul urges the Ephesians to do.
Then see Jesus’ word of command. “Young man, I say to you, arise” (7:14). And the result? The dead man sat up and began to speak (7:15). There is no magical incantation. No somnolent or excitable music to set the right mood. No questioning about whether the man had enough faith to be healed—he was dead! None of that kind of human manipulation, shaming, or guilt treatment.
Instead, at Jesus’ command the dead shall arise. And this man sat up and began to talk. Let us, then, be those who put much stock in God’s Word. It is all too easy even for Christians to begin to rely on other things than the Bible, to structure our church ministries around other things than the Bible, to have Bible studies that do not actually study the Bible! Let us not be like that. Let us instead ensure that we in our own lives read the Bible, that our churches center their ministries upon the Bible, that we proclaim and hear and heed the Word.
Then finally note the response. “Fear seized them all” (7:16). The fear of God in the Bible is not a terror or an evil thing. The fear of God is the worshipful sense of awe that comes when we realize that we are in the presence of God. Imagine what it is like to meet someone justly famous. Who is your great hero? What would it be like to actually meet George Washington? Or JFK? Or Winston Churchill? What would it be like to meet the great sportsman, someone like a Babe Ruth? If you have ever met someone like that, you will know the strange sense of fear that comes upon you when you realize that you are in the presence of greatness. You tremble a little. Your words do not come easily upon your tongue.
Now imagine what it would be like to be in the presence of One who is not merely great but who Himself defines greatness! Imagine what it would be like if “God visited his people”! Then you would have this fear, this awe. Let that characterize our worship of God as his people. Not a starchy, boring, prim and proper distance; but a fearful, in this sense, awesome, in its original sense, stunned amazement that we are actually in the presence of the living God!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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