Jesus is walking to a town called Nain along with his disciples and a great crowd (Lk. 7:11). As they approached the town, they come to a funeral. The dead man was the only son of his mother. In addition to the emotional pain that goes with losing her son she was now hopelessly bound in a financial vice.
Funerals are emotional. They are more than what we typically classify as such. Emotionally speaking, they are like a 2-liter of soda shaken by an ornery 7-year-old. There are so many hot wires ready to strike one another and explode.
As a culture, we (Americans in particular) like to pretend that these emotions don’t exist. Like young children, we are good at playing dress up. In contrast, the ancient culture, particularly the Jewish context at the time of Jesus, funerals we a spectacle of lament. Professional mourners were often brought in to encourage the expression of wailing. They dressed up the other way.
People were better at expressing themselves then; we are better at suppressing ourselves now.
These two facts intersect in Luke 7. Jesus is walking to a town called Nain along with his disciples and a great crowd (Lk. 7:11). As they approached the town, they come to a funeral. The dead man was the only son of his mother. In addition to the emotional pain that goes with losing her son she was now hopelessly bound in a financial vice.
Jesus, full of compassion, speaks words of sovereign authority to the woman, “Do not weep,” he says to her. Without his power and love these words would appear heartless, cold and inappropriate. But he is powerful, loving, and gracious.
Jesus approaches the bier (a plank that served as an open coffin) and puts his hand on it and says, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” (Lk. 7:14).
And with full power on display, “the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.” (7:15)
Here in a matter of moments sorrow turned to fear which then turned to joy. The tears didn’t even have time to dry; they went from songs of lament to praises.
There are so many fully fermented Christian intersections here, but I will limit myself to just a few observations.
- Do you see the beautiful marriage here of compassion and sovereignty by Jesus? I love how he sees this woman’s brokenness and hopelessness and then moves to meet her needs by his power. I can relate to this.