Greater than Prophets
Great and Holy God, You are my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. I bless Your name.
Read Luke 7:11-17
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets … but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” (Heb. 1:1,2).
The raising of the widow of Nain’s son parallels an incident in the Old Testament. Elijah the prophet also raised from death the only son of a widow, and “gave him to his mother” (1 Kings 17:23). The people around Jesus would be very familiar with that story and not surprisingly were quick to acclaim Jesus as a “great prophet” (16).
But the differences between the two occasions are very significant. Elijah’s miracle takes place after the prophet has been staying with the widow. Here, Jesus simply comes upon the funeral procession in the street. Elijah acts out of anxiety and frustration, almost blaming God; but Jesus responds out of compassion for the widow (13). Elijah goes through rituals of lying on the body and calling on God for a miracle, whereas Jesus speaks directly to the corpse and brings the young man back to life. The crowds are therefore only partly right. Jesus certainly is a prophet, but much more than that. He is the Son of God, with authority over death itself.
There are only three people whom Jesus raises from the dead—the others are Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter. Why does Jesus choose to raise just these few and not the hundreds of others who died every day? We don’t know. It seems unconnected with anyone’s faith. We can only assume that extraordinary reasons were involved in such rare occurrences, and it’s not God’s normal intention to raise dead people back to this life. Yet, it is God’s normal intention to show compassion on us, and to bind up the broken-hearted, for he knows and shares the pain we all feel in bereavement. The same love that made Jesus’ heart go out to the widow is available for us, too.
Is there a future event you dread or fear? Perhaps it’s a move, a job change, or loss of a loved one. Allow Jesus into the situation and trust his redemptive presence.
Gentle Shepherd, comfort those who are struggling with grief. May Your Spirit work through me as means of Your grace to them.
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