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The Widow at Nain

ArticleFebruary 1, 2017Luke 7:1–17

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    Jesus raising the widow’s only son from the dead wasn’t the biggest miracle he performed that day.

    Jesus raising the widow’s only son from the dead wasn’t the biggest miracle he performed that day.

    Reflections from Luke 7:1–17

    The hardest thing I’ve ever done in ministry was to officiate a funeral for someone’s only son. He was one of my first students in student ministry and I had the privilege of having him as a student for 4 years. It still hurts to think about all of it but that pales in comparison to the one who lost her son.

    His passing was 5 years ago just this last Monday, so the story of Jesus and the widow at Nain is a difficult one to process to say the least. It just happens to be the story that’s lined up this Sunday because of the Narrative Lectionary. As much as I don’t want to wrestle with it because of the hard questions it brings, I feel I must.

    What parent or friend hasn’t wrestled with God when they’ve lost a loved one so prematurely or unexpectedly? It would be disingenuous to pretend like we don’t question God when things like this happen. We ask things like, “God why didn’t you save him? Why did you allow this to happen? Why didn’t you take me instead? Why do you help others but you didn’t help me?”

    All really hard questions…

    I think there are some truths we can draw from the story about the Widow at Nain in Luke 7:11–17. When you play her life to the end outside of the story we see in scripture, there are some things we know to be true. She eventually died. Her son eventually died. Everyone in attendance at the funeral eventually died. Even Jesus himself physically died. You may be able to delay the grave but there’s absolutely nothing we can do to deny the grave. It demands to be satisfied and satisfied it will be. Truth one is that death is inevitable.

    Sooner or later death comes a knocking and it’s a reality whether we like it or not. As much as I want to tell God how wrong he is for allowing the world to work and be the way that it is, I must quickly humble myself and realize that death entered the world not through God but through man and only Jesus can ultimately defeat it. I don’t like that. But it’s the simple truth.

    So why did Jesus resurrect the Widow’s Son at Nain and not my friends life? Or your loved one’s life? As a man of faith, it’s the wrong question to ask. There’s a harder question to ask that’s more relevant if it’s really true that death is inevitable. It’s the question of whether or not I believe Jesus actually brought back to life the widow’s only son and I whole heartedly believe he did.

    Jesus breathed life back into the widow’s son that day. I think he probably did it a second time when he faced death again and I think he probably breathed life back into the widow after she passed. In our very limited understanding of heaven and time, the truest miracle performed that day wasn’t Jesus raising the widow’s son, it was demonstrating that he had such power over death that he could reunite family members back to those they had lost.

    Heaven is what happens when people are reunited with their loved ones because of the blood of Christ. I tear up thinking about mothers embracing children they’ve lost in this world to the next. To sit back and imagine people hugging each other in heaven because they’ve been reunited through Jesus overwhelms my soul.

    Jesus isn’t done performing the miracle of “the Widow at Nain.” It happens every hour of every day in ways we can’t see because he ultimately defeated death through the cross. I believe anyone who says yes to Jesus will experience this miracle too one day.

    There’s a here-and-now aspect to life and a then-and-later aspect to life. Everything I wrote above is for the then-and-later. The same story can strike people in many different ways and I want to offer one other thought about this miracle that Jesus performed at Nain.

    I for one second don’t believe I have the power to bring someone physically back to life. That’s just one of many things that makes God God and people human. He has power we don’t. That said, I do believe God has given us the ability to be Resurrection People. He gives us the ability to breathe life back into dead situations.

    While we can’t lift people from the grave, we can lift each other up with encouraging words and acts of kindness. We can breathe life back into dead situations by living out our faith. Our words and actions can bring life to someone who feels dead inside. That’s a miracle in and of itself and I pray you would go out and be that miracle to those around you.

    Reflections from Luke 7:1–17


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