Still the Same

Soon Jesus and his disciples were on their way to the town of Nain, and a big crowd was going along with them. 12 As they came near the gate of the town, they saw people carrying out the body of a widow’s only son. Many people from the town were walking along with her.

13 When the Lord saw the woman, he felt sorry for her and said, “Don’t cry!”

14 Jesus went over and touched the stretcher on which the people were carrying the dead boy. They stopped, and Jesus said, “Young man, get up!” 15 The boy sat up and began to speak. Jesus then gave him back to his mother.

16 Everyone was frightened and praised God. They said, “A great prophet is here with us! God has come to his people.”

17 News about Jesus spread all over Judea and everywhere else in that part of the country.    Luke 7:11-17 (CEV)

Lectionary texts: 1 Kings 17:8-24, Psalm 146, Galatians 1:11-24, Luke 7:11-17

The people who determine these lectionary texts are offering some texts with difficult subjects. It will be interesting to see what people decide to teach and preach about next Sunday. Those of you who have been with me for a few years know that I will not dodge a difficult text so I am going to consider this story that Dr. Luke relates in his gospel.

Some may think that this is nothing more than a story of a miracle that happened over 2000 years ago. And some may dismiss the story and claim that the ignorance of medicine during this time produced a false miracle because the young man was just in a coma, not really dead. Even Hollywood would tell tales of people who found themselves reviving in a body bag in the local morgue, misdiagnosed as dead. As an RN for over 35 years that included time in critical care units and with hospice care, I’ve never misdiagnosed “dead.” There’s a definite stillness, skin pallor, and rigor that characterizes a person who is dead.

So I believe this story to be true. Even a young, seemingly healthy man in this time could be struck down by what may have only be known as a fever. Cutting your finger on a rusty piece of metal in those days was a death sentence as there was no tetanus vaccine.

It is the plight of the mother that moves Jesus with compassion. Jesus knew that the young man was safe and secure in the Father’s arms but the widow was neither safe nor secure in her present circumstances. She no longer had a male to protect and provide for her. Widows without male children often found themselves starving to death as they begged on the streets because they had no job opportunities other than prostitution or slavery. And so Jesus, God Himself, returns the son to his mother, restoring a family to safety.

The people praised God for this wonderful act but the gospel also tells us that they were frightened. I wonder if we would have to admit that we have not evolved much farther in our own response to miracles. We want to dismiss miraculous phenomena with scientific explanations or just not speak of them at all. We provide little or no opportunity in our worship for the sharing of miracles, whether it is a physical awakening or a spiritual breakthrough. We wonder why newspapers and news reports aren’t telling the stories of “good” when we do not even share such stories in our churches! When will we stop blaming the world for not being more Christ-like when we who are His disciples are reluctant to open our mouths and do as He told us:

“Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.” Matthew 28:19-20 (CEV, my emphasis)

Every Move I Make written by David Ruis and sung by David Crowder Band

 

 

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