The way Jesus moved through life fascinates me. For example, one of my favorite miracles of his was also one of his oddest.
As Jesus, his disciples, and a large crowd walk into the little village of Nain, they bump into a funeral procession. Jesus’ heart immediately “went out to” the widowed mother of the deceased boy (NIV; other versions say he had compassion on her). This dead boy was her only son and now she was alone. This put her at the mercy of the people around her. In those days son-less widows had few choices for support. Relatives might take them in but by decent standards they could treat her like a slave. She could marry someone who by respectable social mores could treat her like second-hand goods. Or she could become a prostitute.
Jesus’ compassion caused him to plead with her, saying, “Don’t cry.” Imagine being a disciple of Jesus—are you slightly embarrassed? This funeral isn’t any of your business. Why interrupt a formal ritual like this and start talking to the grieving mother? As if that isn’t strange enough, Jesus goes over to the coffin (probably a large rectangular open basket) and starts talking to the dead boy. Don’t overlook the radical tone of this scene. Imagine yourself at a funeral and someone starts talking to the dead body!
Jesus says to the dead boy, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" (“Get up” is one of Jesus’ oft-used phrases as it was of his followers in Acts.) What’s even wilder is that the boy sits up and starts talking! What do you think the boy said? We don’t know, but Dr. Luke must have been fascinated by this miracle because he describes it so carefully. Then Jesus picks the boy up in his arms and hands him to his mother. Imagine how the mother felt. Imagine how the boy felt.
This is one of the few miracles where Jesus barges in and does what’s needed without being asked. He doesn’t seem to be consider that he has to be careful of his image because, after all, he’s just four miles away from Nazareth where he was recently assaulted and nearly thrown off a cliff.
What I love most about this scene (Luke 7:11-17) is how Jesus characteristically focuses on others and what is going on inside them. While it’s true he had some supernatural help, I also have the Holy Spirit living inside me to help me see things. But this can only happen in me if I’m not living in a world filled only with my own concerns—what I’m going to do or say next, what people are thinking of me, or what has caused the soreness in my ankle to flare up again!
Jesus really lived with his eyes on the hearts of others. Some of you have heard me talk about the breath prayer, “Show me the heart of this person.” Jesus lived that breath prayer—as I would love to do. Make it so, Lord Jesus.
Grace and peace,
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