“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.” Luke 7:13-15 (Read Luke 7:11-17)
Travel to any city, town or community and you will likely find a cemetery filled with headstones marking the graves of those from that locale who have died, whose bones or ashes are buried there. In fact, many times, the cemetery is the first thing you will see because they often lie on the outskirts of the city or town. And when funerals take place, the processions often lead from a church or the funeral home out to the cemetery.
When Jesus arrived at the city of Nain with His disciples. He encountered just such a procession. Luke tells us: “Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her” (Luke 7:12).
This was an especially sad funeral because the man who had died was still a young man, and he was the only son of his mother, who also was a widow. What a tragedy! How sad! Imagine the loneliness this mother must have felt, having lost her husband in the past and now her only son. She was, no doubt, heartbroken, and probably also destitute.
And death is sad and tragic! It is not natural. God created us for life but, as a result of sin and disobedience to God’s good commandments, we have brought the curse and condemnation of God’s law upon ourselves and have brought upon ourselves death!
The Bible tells us, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die”; and “the wages of sin is death” (Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 6:23).
To Adam, God said, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:17-19).
Notice that Jesus didn’t try to comfort this woman with words about her son being in a better place. He didn’t tell her to think about all the good times they had together, and He certainly did not tell her that she would always carry her son with her in her heart! Jesus knew and recognized that this young man’s death was the result of sin in the world and that death is sad, devastating and tragic.
And, because we are sinful human beings who have not measured up to God’s holy law, we too will face death. Our souls will be taken from our bodies and our lifeless and decaying bodies will be laid in the ground to return to dust. “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Unless Christ Jesus returns soon, none of us will escape. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). We will all die and then stand before the judgment seat of God.
But what did Jesus do? Luke 7:13-15 says: “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.”
Jesus had compassion on this woman in her hopeless and helpless situation which was the result of sin. We are not told that this young man’s death was the result of some sin in this woman’s life or that it was the result of some particular sin in the life of her son, but it was the result of sin in the world and in them in the same way as we must all die because of the sin which infects us all (cf. Ps. 90:3ff.).
Jesus told this woman to stop crying because He had a solution to this tragic death. He intervened by stopping the funeral bier and saying, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” Luke tells us that this young man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
What does this have to do with you and me today? you might ask. Everyone in the history of the world, with the exception of Enoch and Elijah, had to die, and Jesus only called a few people back to life — we think of this young man, Lazarus, the daughter of Jairus and those raised by His prophets in the Old Testament and His apostles in the New.
Though Jesus does not intervene at every death and call the dead back to life, He has intervened for all of us in a much greater way.
Remember that the cause of death is sin, and sin brings about not only physical death but eternal death and damnation! To be raised back to life in this sinful world is not a lasting solution — as far as we know, this young man has since died. So has Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus.
Jesus had compassion on us in our hopeless and helpless situation and tells us to stop crying because He is our solution. As God promised in the garden the Seed of the woman who would undo the work of Satan, Jesus is that promised Seed, our Messiah and Savior.
“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5).
The Bible tells us: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them”; and, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:10, 13; cf. Heb. 2:14-17).
Jesus Christ, God the Son, intervened by taking on a human body and soul and being born of the Virgin Mary — true God and true man — and He fulfilled all the demands of God’s law perfectly in our stead and then suffered our punishment, the just punishment for the sins of all mankind, when He was crucified and died on the tree of the cross. And He rose again from the dead on the third day, proving that the debt of our sin is paid in full, that God accepted the sacrifice of His Son for the sins of the whole world (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3ff.; Rom. 4:23ff.; Isa. 53:6ff.; 1 John 2:1-2).
And Jesus intervened by raising us up from spiritual death and condemnation to spiritual life and justification through faith in His name (cf. Rom. 1:16-17; 3:21ff.; 2 Cor. 5:18ff.). He did this by sending His servants to preach and proclaim to us the Gospel and to assure us of pardon and forgiveness through faith in Christ by means of our baptism into Christ and our partaking in the Lord’s Supper of Christ’s body and blood which were given and shed for us for the remission of our sins.
Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:24-26; cf. Eph. 2:1ff.; 2 Thess. 2:13-14).
How much better this is than the temporary intervention of Jesus when He raised this young man in Nain and restored him to his mother! This young man was raised up yet a sinner in a sinful world. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, all who trust in Him will be raised up from death to life eternal with Christ where there is no more sin or death! Cf. 1 Cor. 15:20ff.; Rev. 21:1ff.
Because Christ Jesus intervened, all who repent and look to Him in faith have God’s pardon, forgiveness and everlasting life (cf. John 3:14ff.; Acts. 3:19ff.); and believers don’t have to sorrow like the rest of this world which has no hope, for Christ will come again with the souls of those who have died trusting in Him and will raise up all the dead and give to all who have trusted in His name everlasting life! Cf. 1 Thess. 4:13ff.; John 5:28-29; Job 19:25-27.
God grant to us such faith in Christ Jesus so that death becomes for us the gateway to life everlasting for Jesus’ sake! Amen.
[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]