Grief to Joy—Life from Death!

Read: Luke 7:11-17

He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” (v. 14)

What is it like to lose the person you most depended on? Your grief may be exceeded only by your loneliness, your loneliness only by your loss, and your loss only by your helplessness to find a remedy.

In today’s reading, Jesus “bumps into” a funeral coming out of the gates of the city of Nain. The dead man was the only son of a widow, and likely her only support. The Old Testament law and prophets repeatedly declare the special concern God has for widows (Exod. 22:22-24; Isa. 1:17). Without a husband’s support, a widow had no income and could be preyed on by those who might force her to surrender her home, her land, and her possessions. A widow had no standing before a judge. She had very few rights. Her only hope was a surviving son. And Jesus saw that this hope was about to be buried—literally.

Jewish law forbade anyone to touch a dead body or the funeral bier carrying it (Num. 19:11, 16), because that would make them unclean. But Jesus doesn’t hesitate. Jesus’s touch of the bier, and his word to a corpse, restored life to the dead. A funeral was transformed into a celebration! Jesus extended mercy to the widow, because in his kingdom there will be no injustice, and the injustice of death will be banished forever. Here he not only had mercy on the widow, but mercy on us, showing us a glimpse of the kingdom to come.

As you pray, think of your loss in the death of someone you loved. Ask Jesus for his help and his provision.

About the Author

Fred Van Dyke

Fred Van Dyke is a conservation biologist dedicated to the care for God’s creation. In this role Fred has served government agencies, private consulting firms, and academic institutions doing research, management, and teaching in conservation science. He is also the author of two books on faith and environmental stewardship.

This entry is part 14 of 16 in the series The Miracles of Jesus