15th August 2012
“When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, ‘Don’t cry.’ Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, ‘Young man, I tell you: Get up!’ The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother.”
Luke 7:13-15 (MSG)
This is the story of the widow of Nain, whose only son was in the process of being buried. Funerals are always, by their very nature, filled with tears grief, heartache and deep sorrow. A death in a small Middle-Eastern village touches everyone. The family sepulchre would be a short distance outside the village, probably a small cave in a hillside where this widow’s husband would be buried. Now she faces life totally on her own as her only child goes to his rest. Her whole life will be filled with sorrow until she too joins them both.
But this tragic situation is invaded by God in the flesh—Jesus! He is heart-broken as he surveys this scene. His compassion overflows for this poor mother so powerfully that He grabs hold of the bier; causing it to come to an abrupt halt, and then he commands this boy to “Get up!”
Touching a bier or a corpse will make you unclean according to Jewish law, but this is not something that Jesus is worried about—his mission is to restore this boy alive to his mother. This story also looks back to another widow many centuries before who had her only son restored to life by the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17:19-24).
As Christ takes death by the scruff of the neck and casts it aside, this boy sits up and speaks. What a shock for this crowd of mourners! The funeral is cancelled, the mother is crying and laughing at the same time, the whole procession goes wild with joy and they say amongst themselves, “God is back, looking to the needs of his people”. I would expect that these people talked about this day for years to come and were filled with awe every time they saw this young man walking around the village.
Jesus Christ is the same “Yesterday, today and forever!” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV). He is still filled with compassion for people in difficult and very sad situations, and breaks in to comfort them. Once that happens, once he is in the middle of it all, he can even bring joy and laughter to a funeral!
Lord, you are indeed amazing and filled with overwhelming compassion for us in our frailty. Help us to trust you to death and beyond.
Study by Cliff Neill