Scripture: Luke 7:1-17
Key verse: (13) When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
Reflection: In this passage we find two healing miracles of Jesus. The first (verses 1-10) describes the healing of a centurion’s highly esteemed slave who has fallen ill and is “close to death.” The second story (verses 11-17) is a telling of Jesus raising a man from death, a widow’s only son. Each pericope is amazing in and of itself and much can be discussed within each of them individually. But I want to look at them together, as the lectionary has done, to see the magnificence of Jesus’ ministry of healing. As we take the stories together we find the breadth of Jesus’ love from the highest of social authority and power (a male Roman centurion) to the lowest of cultural class (a female Jewish widow). However, the title or position in society does not and will never deem anyone worthy or unworthy of healing, and we must try not to be distracted by the social status of the characters. No one is named here. The centurion’s slave is not present in the narrative; the woman does not speak a word; we never actually hear what the young man says. This is all about Jesus — all about the expansive and inclusive healing love and compassion of the Great Physician.
Reflecting upon this passage, I wonder where you find yourself in the story. We have two drastically different settings here. The first: A Roman dignitary sends representatives to locate Jesus, appeal is made in a compelling speech on behalf of their leader, and healing is brokered from authority to authority by words alone. The second: a rustic, lower class funeral procession in Nain, no prepared speech, with only a “large crowd” present, healing occurred without any appeal or exchange. Wherever you find yourself in this story today, or tomorrow, or sometime in the future, I want you to know that Jesus loves you. The healing love of God made known in Jesus Christ is available to each and every person, from high-class authority to low-class widows. Jesus is the compassionate presence of God in our lives, the one who heals the sick and raises the dead to life, the one who gave his life and was raised to show that God’s love surely and most certainly overcomes our deepest fears. Although there are times when tears are the only emotional response we can muster, Christ meets us right where we are. And so, the words Jesus speaks to the widow in Nain, are the same words Jesus offers us today: Do not weep.
Prayer: You are the Great Physician, O Lord, the one who heals the world’s brokenness with compassion and love. At times weeping seems like the only option. Yet, you are there beside me, wiping my tears, and giving me hope. Guide me in your mercy so that I may find new life in you, each and every day. Amen.
Author: Ben Brannan
[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].