October 29, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Luke 7:14-15 (NRSV)
Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
The authority of Jesus is unequaled. No other human being has been able to command a dead man to come back to life . . . and succeeded. Jesus claimed to have supreme authority over heaven and earth. In this authority he governs our lives, calling us into his disciple-making work throughout the world.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.
As you may recall, Tuesday’s Life for Leaders devotion was entitled “The Exceptional Authority of Jesus.” Surely we can agree that his authority was exceptional. But that doesn’t quite account for it. It would be more accurate to speak of the unique, unmatched, or unequaled authority of Jesus. No human being has ever possessed or exercised authority like that of Jesus of Nazareth.
We see this unmistakably in the story of Jesus’s action outside of the village of Nain in Galilee (Luke 7:11-17). In yesterday’s devotion, we noted how Jesus had compassion for a woman whose son had died. He interrupted the funeral procession and told the woman to stop weeping. Then Jesus spoke to the dead man as has was carried by folks from the town. “Young man,” Jesus said, “I say to you, rise!” (Luke 7:14).
I can only imagine what the people from Nain might have thought and felt at this point. Presumably, they were not yet familiar with Jesus. He was, from their point of view, a stranger who was interrupting a tender moment of community sadness. He had the gall to tell the grieving mother to stop. Who was this rude man, anyway?
Well, he must have been someone special because, after telling the dead man to rise, that’s exactly what happened. Luke writes, “The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother” (Luke 7:15). The onlookers were suddenly gripped by reverent fear, knowing that they were in the presence of someone truly without equal. They glorified God with expressions of thanks and praise. And then they told all of their friends what they had witnessed.
With a word, Jesus raised a man from death to life. Jesus exercised his unique authority out of compassion for a grieving mother. Along with those who witnessed this miracle, we marvel and rejoice over the fact that Jesus had command even over life and death.
Of course, as we read this story, we cannot help but see a foreshadowing of what is yet to come in Luke. In time, Jesus will be the dead man, the one over whom his mother grieves. Yet God will not abandon his Son to permanent death. Rather, he will raise him up, thus defeating the power of death in an ultimate way. Because Jesus suffered death he did not deserve, you and I will receive true life that we do not deserve.
After his death and resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples on a mountain in Galilee. There he said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . .” (Matthew 28:18). When we acknowledge the unequaled authority of Jesus, we also join his disciple-making mission. We obey his command to make more disciples of Jesus, teaching them to respond in obedience to his supreme authority.
Use your imagination to put yourself into the story found in Luke 7:11-17. How might you have felt as you watched Jesus? What would you have thought?
Have you ever experienced God doing something utterly unexpected in your life? If so, what was it? What was that experience like for you?
Do you think of yourself as engaged in the disciple-making ministry of Jesus? If so, how do you participate in this effort? If not, why not?
Take time to think about how you respond to the unequaled authority of Jesus in your life, in real time, in day to day living? What difference does the authority of Jesus actually make in your life?
Lord Jesus, I must confess that it’s easy for me to take your authority for granted. Yes, you raised a dead man outside of Nain. I know this story. I’ve read it, studied it, and seen it acted out in movies and Sunday school pageants. Sometimes it’s hard for me, Lord, to engage the biblical narrative with appropriate awe and wonder. Forgive me. And help me to encounter you afresh, to be amazed at your authority, to be touched by your compassion.
Yet, I ask not only to be amazed at your authority but also to be freely and joyously governed by it. Lord Jesus, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to you. Using this authority, you have called me into your work of making disciples throughout the world. May I do my part wherever you have placed me, bearing witness to you in word and deed, and teaching others to be your disciples.
All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, for your deep compassion and unequaled authority. Amen.
Sign up to receive a Life for Leaders devotional each day in your inbox. It’s free to subscribe and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Gutsy Compassion of Jesus
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.