Scripture: Luke 7:1-17
Key verses: (13-15) When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Reflection: When I read stories like this I tend to focus on the miraculous actions of Jesus. That’s the way Jesus was portrayed as I grew up in the church – a miracle worker. As I have spent more time with the Scriptures I have come to see another dimension to how the gospels tell the stories of Jesus.
In this story, Jesus and his disciples were passing through a town called Nain. They saw a funeral procession leaving the town for the burial. It was a man who had died, the only son of a widow from the town. Anyone in the first century, when they heard that a widow’s only son had died, would have immediately realized that the woman was in deep distress. Any woman who lost her husband would have been completely dependent on her male children. Losing her only son would mean spending the rest of her life begging for food and shelter, at the bottom of the social hierarchy, dependent on the generosity of others.
It is miraculous that Jesus could, with a spoken word, bring the man back from death. Just as miraculous is the fact that Jesus stopped on his travels, noticed this woman engaged in burying the dead, sensed her distress, appreciated her predicament, and had compassion on her — a poor, destitute widow grieving not only for the loss of her son, but also for the loss of her life as she had known it. Jesus stopped what he was doing, not to prove he could do amazing things, but to live out God’s compassion for the least, the last, and the lost. The compassion of Jesus is more profound that his ability to raise the dead. It demonstrated what was important to God. It modeled how disciples should live, how they should travel, what is worth stopping for, and who is valued in God’s family.
In our busy lives, with busy schedules and places to be and things to do, what stops us in our tracks? Do we notice the people God loves? Do we take the time to offer what we can? Do those who observe our actions ever say, “God has looked favorably on his people!”
Prayer: Compassionate God, break through our focused attention so that we might see the needs of the world and share the love you have first shown us. In the powerful name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Author: Von Clemans
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].