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Mother and Son (Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity)

[1 Kings 17:20-23] And Elijah cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child's life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.”

[Luke 7:11-15] Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 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. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

Mother and Son

Two mothers who wanted their sons back. Mother and Son. An indescribable connection. An insurmountable loss. These two women, a sword must’ve pierced their very souls at the death of their sons and in seeing their sons suffer. Mother and Son.

Scripture says the following of our Lord Jesus: [Hebrews 4:15] We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus is not unable to sympathize with your pain. Jesus has been tempted and pained in every way as you and all people. Granted, Jesus has never been a mother who lost her son. But He has been a Son whose mother lost Him.

Sons can relate to this. When an adult son becomes sick or has failed or fallen, he is pained that he has now caused his mother to worry. When a son thinks about signing up to go off to war, he worries how it will affect his mother. When a teenage son gets home at four in the morning after a night of drinking and partying, he might not feel bad about what he’s done, but he is pained that he pained his mother who stayed up worrying all night.

Certainly, as our Lord Jesus died in mockery and agony on the cross, He felt the pain He was causing His mother. And Scripture testifies to the pain it caused His mother. When Mary brought her infant Son to the Temple, Simeon prophesied of the Child’s pending death on the cross and said also to Mary, “and a sword will pierce through your own soul also.” [Luke 2:35]

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God who is God, became man like us in every respect, only without sin. Jesus was made man like you, even in respect to weakness and pain. Jesus carried our human sensitivities. Jesus felt love and loved. Jesus wept at the death of His friend Lazarus. The Son of God became fully, authentically human to every degree, even in respect to this relationship of Mother and Son.

In 1 Kings 17:17-24, our Old Testament reading, a mother, a widow, lost her only son. This widow was the Widow at Zarephath [1 Kings 17:8-16] whose jug of oil and jar of flour did not run out as she fed Elijah and her son during that great drought.

This same widow’s son afterward died. The boy’s mother calls upon (and also blames) Elijah. Elijah, greatly distressed by compassion for the woman, stretches himself out over the dead boy three times crying out to God, saying “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” God listens to the voice of Elijah, raises the boy back to life, and then Elijah takes the child and delivers the child back to his mother.

In our Gospel lesson today [Luke 7:11-17], in a town called Nain, a funeral procession was proceeding through the city gate. On the funeral bier – which was something more like a stretcher than a casket – there laid a man, the only son of his mother who was a widow. The man laid dead as his mother wept.

When Jesus saw the woman, He had compassion on her, approached, touched the funeral bier, and spoke to the dead man, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” It was not the merit or worthiness or work of the young man that moved Jesus to raise him. Rather, Jesus raised the man because Jesus had compassion for the weeping mother. Jesus understands Mother and Son, and He listens.

The dead young man, at the voice of Jesus, sat up on his funeral bier – scared the daylights out of everyone – and began to speak. Then the Scripture says Jesus did this: “and Jesus gave him [the young man] to his mother.” Jesus raised him and gave him to his mother. She received her son back.

A mother’s prayers and the swords which so often pierce her soul do not go unnoticed by her Savior Jesus. His compassion for you is enough reason for Him to hear your prayers.

And now here is the next Biblical account of Mother and Son: Another young man, the Young Man Jesus Christ, thirty-three years old, was beaten, mocked, spit upon. Now He is hanging on a post by nails driven through His hands and His feet. He is dying. The sky has gone dark.

Mary, the Mother of our Lord, stood at the foot of the cross, stood at the feet of her Son, close enough to hear His breath, and watched the boy to whom she had given birth die, and was unable to help. Mother and Son. He died in her sight and was buried.

But on the third day afterwards, Sunday, at the break of daylight, Jesus, the Son of God, Man and Lord, took His own life up again and was raised by the glory of God the Father. Death defeated. Sin, darkness, hell, devil, conquered. The victory which has destroyed death forever.

Early that Sunday morning, Mary was thus added to the short list of mothers who have received their sons back – this time, in an even greater way.

Mothers, fathers, grandparents – your sons, daughters, and grandchildren – all that can take them away has been defeated, conquered, destroyed by the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Children lost to death – young, old, and in the womb. Children lost in life to sin, lost to darkness, lost to foolishness. Jesus knows fully a mother’s grief and a parent’s loss. Jesus hears your grief, He hears your prayers, and He has compassion on you to return to you all that you’ve lost. Amen.

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