Luke tells of two large crowds that converge on a winding road somewhere between Capernaum and Nain. One group is overcome with grief as they carry the lifeless body of a man to the cemetery outside of the city gates. The other group is tagging along with Jesus, waiting to see what he might say or do next. As is often the case, a serendipitous surprise waits just around the corner.
No one in either crowd is asking or expecting anything from Jesus in this moment. Yet on his own, with deep compassion for the dead man’s distraught mother, Jesus intervenes. Luke says that the deceased was her only son and that she is a widow. Those two facts mean that she no longer has anyone to support her and care for her as she ages. Her circumstances in this brutal first-century society would be precarious at best.
Jesus senses the grief in this mother and tells her not to cry. We don’t know her response. She could have thought, “Easy for you to say.” Then Jesus reaches out and touches the bier upon which the body is being carried. He tells the dead man to rise. We don’t know how long that moment of anticipation and unbelief lasts, but the man rises and begins to speak. Luke says that Jesus then gave him to his mother (v. 15). A dead man is alive!
This chance meeting on a dusty road surprises both crowds. No one in the crowd of mourners requests help, but Jesus always knows the needs of those around him. The truth that God is with them seizes everyone who witnesses the amazing goodness that occurs. News about Jesus spreads. Along with the widow’s son, hope comes alive that day.
When has hope come alive for you? What surprising difference did it make?
God, we all love a good surprise. Help us stay wide-eyed and expectant so we will notice and receive those moments when you show up and change everything. Amen.