Luke 7:11-17 (NIV) Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out–the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.
When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
People died every day in Judea, but Jesus only rarely performed resurrections. That’s because, due to the original sin of Adam and Eve, death is the lot of all people. Any reprieve that Jesus did give was only temporary – those resurrected people died again after a space of time.
What moved Jesus to act in this case was compassion. In addition to the grief over losing a beloved son, this man’s death had thrown the mother’s whole future into uncertainty. The woman was a widow, and the man being carried out was her only son, her only remaining means of support. If she was young enough, she might remarry and have a husband to provide for her needs, but that was iffy. If she was older, her prospects were significantly more gloomy.
As soon as He realized this, Jesus’ plan became obvious. He walked up to the woman and urged her to stop crying. Then He walked right up to the coffin and laid His hand on it, causing those carrying it to stop in their tracks. His words were simple: “Young man, I say to you, get up!” This was very similar to His later words to Jairus’ daughter: “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” (Mark 5:41)
No more needed to be done. The man in the coffin opened his eyes, sat up, and began to talk! The whole complexion of the scene was transformed. Sorrow was swallowed up in amazed joy; weeping and wailing faded into gasps of amazement and astonished laughter.
The people immediately decided that Jesus must be a great prophet. Both Elijah and Elisha had raised the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24, 2 Kings 4:18-37), so they figured that He must be someone like them. And, of course, they spread the word all throughout the land.
Father, Jesus made it all look so easy. But this amazing power was not limited to Him and His ministry. After Pentecost, even Peter and Paul were able to restore life at Your direction (Acts 9:36-42; 20:9-12). Lord, Your kingdom is no place for free spirits or mavericks who decide on their own what needs doing and then demand that You honor their decision. But when You clearly call us to do something, whether speaking words of healing, sharing the good news of the kingdom, or even raising the dead, we, as Your people, are required to obey, no matter how improbable the situation. Amen.