Good Morning!Going to take a little while to get accustomed to writing 2015!
11Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 12As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. 13When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” 15The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” 17This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.
In the previous passage, Luke spoke of Jesus’ authority over sickness, authority recognized even by the Roman officer. Here, Jesus has authority even over death.
This story would have recalled for first century readers the story of Elijah (1 Kings 17) who met a widow with a funeral procession at the city gate, raised the woman’s dead son, and returned him to her. Luke uses quotes from that scripture story to tell this story – providing continuity, and illustrating Jesus’ power, greater even than that of the prophet.
But this is also a story that illustrates Jesus’ compassion. The widow has lost her only family, a much loved son. This loss will also plunge her into abject poverty, for if the son was her only family, then he was the only one providing for his mother. Here Luke’s focus is on the woman; Jesus feels compassion for her. He said, “Do not weep.” And then he walked over to the stretcher on which the body lay, touched the man, and said, “I say to you, rise!” And the dead man sat up and began to talk to those around – can you imagine what he had to say? And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
At this point, the crowd comes back into the story – registering and expressing their fear of such power, and praising God. They say, “A great prophet has arisen among us.” Luke links the story to that of Elijah – Jesus was indeed a great prophet, greater even than Elijah. But Jesus was, of course, more than a prophet as well. A prophet speaks by the Spirit of God; Jesus had possessed the Spirit since his baptism, perhaps even before that. But the people say more, “God has looked favorably on his people”; this passage is translated, “God has come to help his people” in the NIV, and may also be translated, “God has visited his people.” The people recognize the hand of God, the power of God, in this miracle. God is truly present with them, although they do not recognize him.
And the word, the stories of his amazing deeds, spread far and wide among the people and communities of Galilee and Judea. The crowds which plagued him, and followed him, and worshipped him, would get larger still. But would they come just to see the miracles, or would they come to learn and to grow and to know this Savior? Why do we come?