Friday, March 30, 2012

Jesus Raises a Widow's Son (Luke 7:11-17)

Soon afterward, 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.

By this point, it should be no surprise that big crowds follow Jesus.  People want to hear what Jesus will say and see what he will do.  They are curious to learn more about what he is teaching. This time, Jesus is coming to a town and as he nears the gate, sees a funeral procession.  These were big deals.  When a loved one died, it was a good thing to have people mourning their death.  If a person did not have a lot of friends or family, they would actually hire people to publicly mourn and wail at the funeral procession.  Yes, it's true.  Professional mourners!  Now, whether or not this large crowd had some of these professional mourners in it is immaterial.  The Scripture tells us that a large crowd from the town was with the lady who was mourning.

I love my wife very much.  I think I would die without her.  If she died, surely a big part of me would go into the grave with her.  It would be difficult for me to enjoy any of the many things that we do together because they would all remind me of her.  My heart would break every day.  Living without her would be torture.  Can you imagine what it is like to lose someone you care so deeply about?

In this story, the lady is a widow.  That means her husband has died.  Now, in Bible times, if a husband died and did not leave children to carry on the family line, it was the duty of the brothers to marry her and give her a child so that the family line would continue.  There is a son, though!  This is a pretty big responsibility here.  The children take care of the mother when she is a widow!  Why?  Well, in this time, women were not allowed to work.  That means they lived off the community if there was no one else to provide for them.  This is why you see widows, orphans, and children mentioned together.

So, who will provide for this woman now?  She has lost her husband and now she has lost her only son!  On top of the agonizing loss of not one but two people she loves, she now faces a life of poverty.  She gets to look forward to a community that does not really want to take care of her but has no other choice.  This is ultimate mourning.  There is no reason to continue.  When they bury her son, they may as well bury her too.  Such sadness.  Such heavy, heart-wrenching sadness.

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. 

Can you see why Jesus' heart went out to her?  After all this loss, seemingly a lifetime of sadness, he comes to her and tells her not to cry.  I can just imagine her dressed in black, ashes and dirt covering her face, tears streaming down her face, looking at a man telling her not to cry.  As she wipes the tears away, for a moment, she can see the face of Jesus.  For a moment her face brightens.  I imagine her heart began to race as he reaches his hand to touch the bier where her son lay.  A moment of panic, wonder, awe, and fear.  What is he going to do?!?

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.

WOW.  I mean, WOW!  Jesus commanded the young man to get up.  Instantly he did.  He sat up and began to talk.  Jesus gave him back to his mother.  Can you imagine the sheer joy she must have felt?  I don't think the joy is the right word.  Maybe ecstasy?  Really!  She just got back her son whom she had already lost.  She just regained her life after thinking there was nothing more to live for.  Jesus gave one life, saved another, and gave hope to people in the area and the surrounding country.

Jesus lives today.  He saves lives today.  He cries when we cry.  He laughs when we laugh.  He is never far away from where we are.  We just have to remember that we are not alone.  He is there.  He is right next to you waiting for you to turn to him.

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