Jesus continued to journey about the countryside telling everyone the Good News and healing the sick. One day He travelled to a city called Nain. His newly appointed disciples were with Him, and they were followed by a huge crowd. The people couldn’t seem to get enough of this radical, healing teacher.
As the Lord Jesus walked towards the city gates, there was a funeral procession coming out. They were carrying a dead man in a coffin. He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. How frightening for this dear woman. She would have no man to protect her, and in those days that was a very dangerous thing. It made her incredibly vulnerable. A large crowd was following them outside the city gates.
When Jesus saw the grieving widow, He was filled with compassion. He told her, “‘Do not weep.’” Then He touched the coffin and the men carrying it stopped moving forward. Then Jesus declared, “‘Young man, I say to you, arise!’”
At the words of Jesus, the son who was dead rose up in his coffin! He began talking to the people around him! Can you imagine the shock in that crowd? Can you imagine the moments of surprised confusion for the widow… and then her absolute joy? Can you picture the look of radiant delight on her face?
As the young man began to speak, Jesus gave him to his astonished mother. Many people were watching as the incredible miracle happened. All the multitudes that had been following Jesus as He went into the city saw Him touch the coffin. All of the people who were coming out of the city from the funeral saw it, too. As the two crowds flooded into each other, they stood amazed. They were also very, very afraid. What manner of man was this? This was not supposed to happen. The dead were supposed to stay dead. Who was this stranger that seemed to have power over death itself? The miracle was too great to be believed! The people began to give glory to God, saying “‘A great prophet has arisen among us!’” They declared with their rising belief, “‘ God has visited his people!’”
What a stunning event! What new hopes must have filled their hearts. Here was someone that actually could do something about suffering and death!
It is interesting that when Luke told this story, he made sure to point out that Jesus had touched the coffin. According to the Jewish Law from the Old Testament, touching the dead made you unclean. A faithful Jewish person would have to go through special rituals to become clean again. They had to spend time apart from the rest of their family and follow certain rules. It was one of the sacred regulations that God gave His people. They were a part of the nation of Israel’s holy covenant with their God.
The Jewish people held these regulations very close to their hearts. It was one of the ways they could show their devotion to their Lord. But the time for those regulations had come to an end. Those laws and rules were a gift from God to purify His holy nation from the contamination of sin in this world. It gave them a structure of life that would honor God before all the nations. They were meant to be a model of His righteousness as His priests. They knew that God would somehow establish Him Kingdom on earth through them.
Now the true priest had come. While it was the job of other priests to stand under the Law and enforce it among the people, Jesus stood above the Law. He was bringing in a new era when the force and power of the Law over society was no longer necessary. He was bringing a New Covenant! When Jesus touched the coffin, it didn’t make Him unclean! Jesus was not only doing away with the Law, He was doing away with the important reasons for the Law. It is good for a society not to worship the dead. It is good to have a habit as a nation to not touch dead bodies or treat them with disrespect. It is good not to come into contact with things that are decaying. But Christ was going to destroy death itself! He showed through this widow’s son that He had the power of life in Him to conquer death itself!
News of this powerful miracle spread all over Galilee, down to Judea and Jerusalem and all around the surrounding region. Imagine all those multitudes who saw the miracle as they returned to their homes. Imagine them as they went in every city from Tyre to the Decapolis to Jerusalem telling the amazing story of Jesus raising the man from the dead at his own memorial service.
How powerful would it be if a blind man from your village returned from a trip with his sight, telling stories about the healings of Christ? Imagine how the Pharisees in the synagogues of Galilee that had confronted Jesus must have squirmed. What were the discussions like among the religious leaders in the great Temple in Jerusalem?
Imagine the families whose children were sick or whose elderly parents were dying. What hope was there in this man! Jesus was showing bright and glorious glimpses of the world as God wanted it to be for us in the first place. He was restoring what was lost and broken by the curse. He was making things whole and right and good again. He continues to do that mighty work, even today. One day His work will be complete. Christ will reign as King in His heavenly kingdom and all will be made new! There will be no more suffering or tears. But would the people of his time on earth see the miracles and believe? Would they put their faith in Him? Will we?
For deeper reading on the Death of Death in Christ, go here: http://www.onthewing.org/user/Owen_Death%20of%20Death%20-%20Modern.pdf And here: http://www.all-of-grace.org/pub/others/deathofdeath.html
And to spend a little time meditating on the beauty of who He is, go here: