Raising the Dead

Luke 7:11–17 (NKJV)

11 Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. 12 And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.
16 Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.”

17 And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.

Luke 7:11-17

Jesus is in the country on the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. Nain is about 25 miles from Capernaum, Jesus’ Galilean headquarters. A large crowd was following Jesus, as His fame had spread abroad. This seemed like regular movement or travel for Jesus until they “happened” to come across a funeral procession near the gate of the city. The only son of a widow had died, and was being transported for burial. The scene is fraught with contrast. The large crowd with Jesus is full of hope and excitement, headed into a new town to see what Jesus might do. They are met by another crowd following a widow who had now lost her husband and her son and is truly alone, heading to a burial place to seal the end of her provision and status. In the midst of this “accidental confrontation” comes an opportunity for what some would consider one of the greatest physical miracles of Jesus’ ministry.

Jesus’ compassion is on full display, as He comforted her and encouraged her not to weep. Surely, she is fraught with sadness and now confusion at His words. it was normal to weep. They even hired mourners at times to accentuate the pain felt by the loss of a loved one. Yet Jesus ignored the tradition in telling her this. Why? Because He was there to eradicate the need for suffering, the purpose of the tears.

Jesus then did the unthinkable: He touched the funeral bier, or coffin, and stopped the entire procession. Jews were not to touch the dead, or else they would be unclean. This was not allowed, yet Jesus did it anyway, and everything and everybody stopped to see what would happen. Jesus comes not only to comfort those in sorrow, but also the make the unclean clean. Lepers healed were no longer unclean. A woman with an issue of blood was healed and was no longer unclean. Now, a funeral bier with a dead body was about to be made clean!

Jesus then spoke to the dead body and told him to arise. He called him “young man.” This was perhaps a nod to the fact that his life had ended too soon. Maybe it was a not to the fact that his mother still needed him. Either way, Jesus knew that his time on earth was not yet over, and he called him back to life. He would come back and comfort his mother. He would help provide for her. He would perhaps establish his own family and home and raise children who would bless their grandmother. The hopelessness of an early death was becoming the hopefulness of a bright future. “Young man, I say to you, arise.”

Fear, a natural response to a corpse sitting up in a casket, immediately turned into adulation for Jesus, now deemed a prophet through whom God had visited His people. The legend grew, the story unfolded, and Jesus–the Son of God–walked among men. He is here to comfort you, make your uncleanness clean, and bring life into your world. Receive Him today.

Artwork from https://sannettemarie.blogspot.com/2016/06/june-5-2016-tenth-sunday-in-ordinary.html

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