Luke 7:13-15 - And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then He came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Over the years, as an officiant, I have ridden in the front car of many funeral processions.
I have been impressed to see entire communities, mindful of both the mourned and the mourners, stop what they were doing, doff their hats, and respectfully bow their heads. I have, even without police escort, seen traffic pull to the side when a funeral cortege passed by. These things we do because it is the right and respectful thing to do.
When our Savior walked the earth, the people had their own set of funeral customs.
It should be noted the Savior respected none of those customs the day He and His followers came across a funeral procession which was exiting the city of Nain. I've often wondered what did the lad's mourners think when Jesus approached this widow woman who, quite probably, had watched her only son die earlier that day?
I wonder: didn't most of those who were walking to the cemetery think Jesus' actions were less than sympathetic and supportive? Tell me, what would you have thought when Jesus touched the funeral bier of the lad? Scripture is silent in what the people thought that day, but most of us would have considered Jesus' actions to be a bit bizarre, almost rude and, quite possibly, offensive.
It didn't get any better when Jesus spoke to the mourning mother.
His statement "Do not weep" seems so out of place. If any woman could be excused for crying, it would have to be this bereaved mother. Once again, Scripture does not say what the people thought after Jesus spoke words which, coming out of the mouth of any other person, would have seemed incredibly insensitive and inconsiderate.
Nowadays, ushers, funeral directors, or the police escort would politely, but forcefully, move Jesus to the side, so the funeral procession might continue to wend its way to the graveyard. As the mourners passed Jesus, many might possibly have whispered to Him words like "shocking," "scandalous," "shameful," "sacrilegious."
But Jesus wasn't done yet. He wasn't done by a long shot.
No doubt the day's greatest surprise came when Jesus spoke to the dead boy. His command, "Young man, I say to you arise!" could have been the ultimate in bad taste. Indeed, it would have been just that if it weren't for the fact that the dead man "sat up and began to speak."
The story ends with the Savior giving the healed boy back to his mother.
Now I have spent so much time retelling this story for your sake. You see, Scripture says that Jesus interrupted every funeral He encountered. He did it back then, and He is going to do so for us. True, the timetable may be different, but the result will be the same. The day is coming when Jesus will raise up and reunite families who have shared faith in Him. He will invite us to a reunion that will never end.
And that is something we can count on, something which, even now, can bring us peace.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord and Savior, I give thanks that death and grave no longer have the last word. Because of what You have done, I know there is joy on the other side of the tears: a reunion no illness can ever touch. For this I give thanks in Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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