Luke 7: 11 – 17 Jesus raises a widow’s son
Soon afterwards, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 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. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’
Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
They were all filled with awe and praised God. ‘A great prophet has appeared among us,’ they said. ‘God has come to help his people.’ This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
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What is this story about? It’s about Jesus bringing life. He literally raised a young man to life.
I find myself wondering, “Was he really dead?”. I’m not leaping up and down going, “Gosh, wow!” And yet I believe that God heals, and has the power to raise from the dead. The numerous onlookers were filled with awe and praised God. Why aren’t I?
In part, I suppose, it’s because this event was a very long time ago. The young man was raised from the dead, and we hear no more of him. Presumably he will have lived out a normal life in Palestine and died again in due course, many, many years ago.
Maybe in part it’s because I live after the resurrection of Jesus. Doctrine teaches me that there is an eternal life of the spirit that is more significant than this mortal life. The raising of the widow’s son was very important for her, but in the greater scheme of things it had little more significance than a dramatic sign that authenticated Jesus’ ministry.
But, actually, I think I am fighting against a truth here, a truth that could help me grow spiritually. This narrative, as well as being a true story, is probably a parable for the way that Jesus brings new life.
The widow’s son had to die before Jesus could raise him to life.
Jesus brings new life, but I have to be prepared to die to gain it. I believe that I have eternal life; I trust Jesus to take care of me. But I think he’s calling me to experience more of that life here and now.
There are two other things I feel called to write.
The first is that the widow didn’t ask Jesus to heal her son; she just wept. Jesus was moved by pity, and he restored the son, giving back to the woman both the emotional comfort of her family and her social identity. Although we often hear Jesus looking for faith in those he heals, in this instance he didn’t; he just restored the widow’s son. It was an act of pure compassion.
The second thing is that the assembled crowds said ‘God has come to help his people.’ This is what happens when God comes to help his people. The dead are raised to life. New life is poured out in abundance.
Thank you for sending us Jesus. Thank you for the new life he brings. Please show me what parts of my life need to go if I am to follow him better.
In Jesus’ name, Amen