No Ordinary People

January 12, 2023
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Are you ever amazed at how a seemingly ordinary event or decision can lead to big consequences?  You decide for some reason to not ignore a phone call from an unknown number and you end up in a conversation that changes the course of your life.  You reluctantly attend a party and incredibly, you meet someone who becomes a lifelong friend or even your spouse. 

Around seven years ago, I had a friend who was diagnosed with a serious form of cancer.  In one of our visits he told me that even if God healed him, he was going to change jobs and he really felt that I should apply for his position.

Tragically, the Lord did not physically heal him and he passed away.  I am always aware that I now serve with Resonate because of the loss of a friend and that quiet conversation.  

11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her… (Luke 7:11-13)

Maybe that’s why this obscure little encounter in Luke 7 has stuck with me so much when I discovered it recently. I have come to see that this very ordinary seeming event–a funeral, is like a little window, that when we peer through it, helps us to see all the hope and glory of the gospel.   

I am going to take the next few weeks to dwell in this text, but let me start by highlighting the context.  Jesus is early in his ministry and he and his disciples are on a tour of the towns and villages in the region of Galilee.  Because of his compelling teaching and miracles, a large crowd is following him around. 

After healing a Roman soldier’s servant in Capernaum, they come to the village of Nain, a place not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible.  As they approach the town gates, they run into a funeral procession.

From a human standpoint, this is a random moment, a coincidence.  It happens to us too from time to time.  We are driving through town and we encounter a long line of cars in procession, following a hearse.  Where I live, in smaller communities the traffic will even pull over as a sign of respect.   

That’s what happens here.  If you have seen Middle Eastern funerals on the news, you will have a sense of what it was like. A crowd of people, crying and carrying the body of the deceased on a wooden slat openly through the streets. As they walk closer to this procession, Jesus and the disciples realize that this is a particularly sad situation. It’s a widow. And she has lost her only son.  

Like me, you may find yourself quite unfamiliar with this little story.  But Jesus is in it.  There are two key words in this passage that say so much about His compassion and ministry that I want to focus on in the coming weeks. Jesus has much to teach us about our posture as ministry leaders.  But for now, I invite you to let your heart rest on this scene. 

Two crowds of ordinary people running into each other.  One, grieving a profound tragedy.  The other, buzzing with excitement and curiosity about this new teacher and rabbi they have encountered, wondering what he will do next.

C.S. Lewis has famously (and provocatively) said that there are no ordinary people.  We would also say that there are no ordinary situations.  There is no place where Jesus is not present. He invites us to join him in this story and experience what is going on. 

To see the people in these crowds as he sees them.  I also believe that as leaders in His Church, he teaches us to look through his eyes and truly see the people we encounter in our own everyday comings and goings.

There are no ordinary situations, conversations or encounters because we do not serve an ordinary Jesus. How might this awareness shape how you move through your day today?  

Kevin DeRaaf

Director of North America Regional Teams

Resonate Global Mission

 

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  1. My article “Just do it!” in the January 2023 Banner is kicking off some interesting discussions. I am happy about that. I was hoping it would do that. I think we are in a time when God is moving with “signs and wonders” in His churches by which he “authenticates” the authority of Jesus’ ministry and His divinity. As Resonate leads the way on that I believe we will see renewal in our churches. Without this I fear we will continue with conflicts and dissension. What we need is a fresh trusting and doing what He says and does. Resonate could become the MAJOR source of renewal in the CRC. We clearly KNOW what it takes (from the Book!) “repentance, love and humility” in a setting saturated with trusting Him and prayer for the Spirit’s empowerment we may well be used by God to usher in renewal and a fresh Holy Spirit revival. I pray it may be so!!