THE JESUS I DIDN’T KNOW: THE BRIGHTENER

How well do you know Jesus? We all like to think we know Jesus pretty well. I’ve had close to fifty years of wonderful, sweet communion with Jesus. I’ve devoted over forty years of my life to studying and teaching His Word. I’m talking about going back to the original languages and learning as much as I can about Jewish culture, institutions, and beliefs. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Know-It-All. And you can ask my kids: I’m not inerrant or infallible. But still, knowing what I know, I’d like to think I know Jesus pretty good. To my pleasant surprise, however, I don’t know Jesus as good as I think I do. To this day, He still shows me more about Himself. Here, let me give you some snippets of the Jesus I never knew.

THE BRIGHTENER

Hello there. I’m one of the many nameless folks in Scripture and you probably wouldn’t know me even if I told you my name. So instead of giving you my name I’ll just tell you who I am. I’m the widow of Nain. Everybody knows me by that. You’ll find my story in Luke Chapter 7. But, if you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you the story myself.

My husband died a few years back and that was a real blow to me. I didn’t know how I was going to make it without him. When you lose the love of your life it’s like you’ve lost yourself. You’ve lost your life. Many of you know what I’m talking about, so you’ll identify with the load of grief I carried. Before he left he gave me a son and my boy became my world, my life, my source of hope and joy in a world of grief and sorrow.

Life was difficult for a widow in my day. You’ve got to remember we didn’t have Social Security, Welfare, Food Stamps, Public Housing, or Financial Assistance. We lived off of the charity of relatives, friends, and neighbors. My son was growing up and, until he could get a job, we lived from day to day as best we could. We had each other and that was the only consolation we had in life.

Things took an unimaginably terrible turn for the worse when my son got sick. I prayed. I asked God to heal him. I gave him what meager medical care I could afford and get my hands on. But in spite of my frantic efforts and pleas, nothing worked. My son died. And with him, my faith, my laughter, my joy. God had taken everything near and dear from me. I couldn’t understand why. It seemed like such a cruel thing for a widow who’s already suffered enough to experience the added loss of an only son. Life was just so unfair!

As we set out to go to the cemetery to bury the light and joy of my life, I was going there to bury all my hopes and dreams, my faith in God, my joy and peace, my very being. When my son died I died with him. I knew there was no more living left for me to live. Honesty, I didn’t want to live at all. What was there to live for? Even God had turned His back on me. Life just seemed so pointless. God, so useless.

As we neared the cemetery outside town we were met by a huge crowd. A Man in particular, at the head of the crowd, came closer and closer until He stood right in front of me. I didn’t know Him from Adam. But there was something definitely different about His demeanor that arrested my attention. The funeral procession came to a standstill and the mournful dirges were silenced, as if on cue.

The Stranger told me not to weep. Easy for Him to say! He’s not the one who’s lost an only son. I stared at Him in sheer disbelief. I found myself starting to get really pissed.

He probably sensed what was coming from me next. So, before I had the chance to blow up in His face He stepped away from me, touched the bier, and commanded my dead son to get up.

Before I knew what was happening, my son—my dead and only son—sat up and started talking! I couldn’t believe it! In a moment, my anger towards the Stranger was turned to praise and adoration! No one in Israel had been raised from the dead for 900 years. Only the prophets Elijah and Elisha performed this awesome feat. And, in a totally unexpected moment, a Stranger raised my son back to life! We all knew right then and there that He was a Prophet and we hailed Him so.

Amidst all the hoopla and shouting, my tears of sorrow were turned into tears of joy as I hugged my son and held him close to me. I couldn’t stop crying! And I wasn’t about ready to let him go. Suddenly, life seemed good again. I thought God had forsaken me. And, in my heart, I knew I was forsaking Him too. But as unworthy and undeserving as I was, God, for some inexplicable reason, had mercy on me and gave me back my boy. And in doing so, He restored my faith, my joy, my laughter, my peace. He brought my son back to life and brought me back too. The gloomy, laughless future that I faced was suddenly brightened by a Stranger they called Jesus. I call Him Brightener because that’s what He was to me.

The thing that really amazed me about the Brightener was that I was a total stranger to Him. He didn’t know me. We’d never met before. But in the moment that He stood before me He knew everything about me. Everything I’d gone through. And He cared for me! Why should He care? Who was I to Him?

When He told me to stop crying, I thought He was cruel and heartless. But, in hindsight, He said it because of what He was about ready to do. He was about ready to bring my son back to life.

So take it from me. WHEN GOD TELLS YOU TO STOP CRYING, OR DON’T BE AFRAID, OR DON’T WORRY; IT’S BECAUSE HE’S ABOUT READY TO DO SOMETHING BIG, SOMETHING MIRACULOUS, IN YOUR LIFE. HE’S ABOUT TO BRIGHTEN YOUR DARKENED LIFE AND FUTURE IN WAYS YOU NEVER DREAMED POSSIBLE.

Like me, some of you are heading out to the cemetery to bury your son. I’m talking in a manner of speaking. Bad things have happened to you. You’ve made mistakes in life. You’ve made some wrong choices. And, as a consequence, your life is all messed up now. You don’t see any way the future is going to improve. You don’t see any hope of change or of a better day coming. Like me, you’re heading out to the cemetery to bury your hopes, your dreams and aspirations, your joys and laughter, your peace of mind, your faith in God, your sanity, your very life. You’ve consigned yourself to a hopeless, laughless, depressing today because that’s what all your tomorrows look like.

Friends, instead of going to the cemetery you need to go to God! Bring Him your bier of broken hopes and dreams. God is the Mender of the past, the present, and the future. He can restore what’s been lost or taken from you. He can give you a future and a hope. He can resurrect your dreams. Revive your laughter and joy. Resuscitate your peace. Restore your faith. And breathe the spirit of hope into your darkened soul and make you live again. Don’t resign yourself to a life of depression, despair, and death! You don’t have to live that way! Not with the loving, caring, powerful God that you have.

I thought I had God all figured out. I thought He’d forsaken me. Didn’t love me. Didn’t care about me. Wasn’t interested the least bit in me. Wow! Was I ever wrong! To this day I can’t believe how much He loved Me that He would come from afar to give me and my son life.

The present and the future doesn’t have to be dark and bleak. Jesus is the Brightener. Let Him do what He does best for you. He really does love you! He wants the light of His love to brighten up your day and all your tomorrows. Look! He’s heading your way! Turn to Him. Cry out to Him. The Brightener wants you to live, and love, and laugh again!

1 Comment

  1. Jan Bucher said,

    September 30, 2012 at 11:55 PM

    this is awesome way to present this story..I cried all way through last part..I so need the BRIGHTNER toresurect my joy..and give me direction…He is my everything and I knoe even though at times I feel like he is far away..he is not..again, love your way to present the gospel


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