FROM GRIEF TO JOY
"Not long after that Jesus went to the village Nain, His disciples were with Him along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession -- a woman's only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, His heart broke. He said to her, 'Don't cry,' Then He went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, 'Young man, I tell you: Get up.' The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother." Luke 7:11-15 (The Message).
Now that really takes the cake!
It was amazing enough that Jesus healed sick people, opened deaf ears and blind eyes, and got rid of demons, but talking to a dead man and expecting him to hear and respond! That was outside the realm of these people's experience. Just imagine how the tongues wagged after the crowd had seen that! His popularity must have soared a thousand per cent.
Anyone reading this story for the first time might be struck by the matter-of-fact-ness of what happened. It was told with such simplicity that Jesus might have been walking through an orchard picking apples. There is nothing mystical or magical about what He did. He stopped the funeral procession, spoke to the dead body and the young man heard and responded. Just like that!
What prompted Jesus to do something like that? Was He showing off His power to convince people who He was? There is nothing in the record to suggest that. Luke tells us clearly why He did it -- His compassion for the grieving mother moved Him to action.
She was a widow and, with her son gone, she had become destitute. What would become of her without a breadwinner? Unlike modern times, she could not get a job to support herself. She was dependent on the goodwill of the people around her and it was a precarious living, to say the least. She was not supposed to outlive her son.
Jesus responded, not only to her grief but also to her plight. He understood her predicament and stepped in to undo the tragedy that had robbed her of her livelihood. Imagine how He felt when He walked away from that scene with the memory of a mother's joy at being reunited with her son!
"They all realised they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful -- and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, 'God is back, looking to the needs of His people!' The news of Jesus spread all through the country." Luke 7:16, 17 (The Message).
At least these people didn't call Jesus a devil and attribute His work to Beelzebub! The crowd was stunned into silence and then stirred into praise. 'God is here,' they marvelled, recognising that only God could do what Jesus was doing. Where were the Pharisees? Apparently dumbstruck or absent. No-one raised an objection; no-one accused Him of anything. They accepted what their eyes had just seen as the work of God.
Wherever He went, Jesus was putting His Father's glory on display and showing His people what His kingdom was like so that He could invite them to share in a life that was infinitely attractive and compelling. This is how God wanted it to be, and this is how it would be when the enemies of His kingdom were finally overthrown and everything restored to His original design.
As children of God and citizens of God's kingdom, it is our task to contribute to the restoration of His rule on earth. It is not enough to pray, 'Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' Jesus has entrusted to us the role of continuing what He began, bringing heaven to earth by restoring what is broken wherever and whenever we can.
Are you doing that?
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