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ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS

THE WIDOW OF NAIN

It seemed a strange thing to say 'Don't cry'. 'Don't cry ' when death has come a second time to rob you of love and companionship, to leave you vulnerable and alone.

Don't cry? But is not death the deepest pain, the ultimate loss, the final separation?

The son of a widow, imprisoned in the cold immobility and inactivity of death, was being carried out of the town of Nain for burial. Jesus Christ, the Lord and creator of life, was, at the same time, coming in.

Deeply moved by her grief, Jesus shared the widow's pain. And, deeply aware that death is an alien, an intruder, a temporary and unwelcome tenant on this planet, he grieved with the grief of God over his world disabled, disenfranchised, damaged and damned by sin and death.

In his hands, in the power of his word, by his divine authority, Jesus knew that he had the power to reverse this most tragic consequence of our human sinfulness. Indeed, the purpose of his coming was that by dying he would undo the curse of sin and death.

Anticipating his own victorious encounter with sin and death, by which he would undo their power for ever, he put his hand on the coffin and spoke into the darkness and devastation of death: 'Young man, I say to you, get up!'

A cruel thing to say, unless it happens; a heartless, foolish bad-taste joke, unless it is actually possible. But what mere man can command death to release its victim? What human voice can penetrate ears that have closed in death? Who has the authority to undo and reverse sin's just penalty?

No mere human has that authority. No mere human has that power. In incredulous awe the accompanying crowds watched as the young man sat up and began to talk.

The Lord of life had spoken. Death itself fled before his word.

Thus Jesus gave us a preview of his death and resurrection and a preview of our resurrection. He graphically demonstrated that he has both the authority and the ability to undo this ultimate of sin's impacts.

Scriptures: Luke 7:11-17; John 1:1-4; Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12-21; Mark 10:45; Galatians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 15; Revelation 20:14.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2008