There’s an often-overlooked story in the Bible that moves me deeply. It’s in Luke 7:11-17.

Jesus walks to a walled village called Nain, followed ,by his disciples and also by a large crowd of people. As he and the crowd approach Nain, coming out of a gate in the wall they meet a funeral procession.A funeral at that time would comprise several sad elements: first a narrator who would speak of the good deeds of the deceased; then women assigned to chant and wail, attended by a flutist or two; then the funeral bier carried by friends and loved ones bearing the body of the deceased. All of these would be followed by family and a large number of grieving townspeople.

As our Lord and his followers approach he sizes up the situation quickly. On the bier, he sees the body of a young man, an only son; following the bier, one lone woman, the mother who is obviously widowed.

Luke tells us that “his heart went out to her.” Jesus then says to her: “Don’t cry.” I would love to have heard those caring words spoken by our Lord. Then stepping forward he touches the bier and the procession stops. To the lifeless body he says, “Young man, I say to you, get up.”

The people in both throngs are amazed as the young man sits up on the bier and begins to talk to those around him. Jesus tenderly restores him to his speechless mother.

The funeral procession breaks up. The professional mourners cease their wailing. The crowd is filled with awe, and when they gain their wits they begin to shout, “A great prophet has appeared among us!” And they add, “God has come to help his people!”

There is no indication that this miracle is performed to add to our Lord’s reputation or to enhance his popularity.

This miracle is prompted by one thing — his instant compassion.

Because of the remoteness of the town, the people may not have heard of Jesus, but they read the situation correctly.

Here is a powerful picture of God Incarnate: tender-hearted toward the hurting, and at the same time with the power to raise the dead.

We see in this episode of Jesus’ life that God wishes to enter our lives during every circumstance.

———

Donald N. Bastian, of Ontario, Canada, is the bishop emeritus of the Free Methodist Church of North America. For more of his writings, go to justcallmepastor.wordpress.com.

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