Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Favorite Story

We are spoiled.  Modern Americans.

When someone tells us a story, we need drama and mayhem and action and suspense and every detail of emotion laid out for us, so we can feel it.

But the writers of the books of the Bible, were most often not novelists...or playwrights.  So some of the things we read in the Bible are a little bit more like reading a report, a history book.  And because of this, it's easy for us to gloss over extremely dramatic scenes in the Bible.  Scenes filled with mayhem and suspense and action.  We have to kind of work to really see the scenes that are described.

Even Hollywood, when portraying Jesus, has almost always gotten it very wrong, making Jesus look so serious and boring and unfeeling...a portrayal which seems to me to be completely impossible for someone who did the things Jesus is reported to have done.  An unfeeling person couldn't have pulled this stuff off.

There is a very very short story in Luke, which does not even get its own heading in many printings of the Bible.  It is clumped in with other, longer stories.  But it's in Luke, 7:11-15.  Five little verses, that need very little extrapolation to move my heart and cause me to love Jesus more.

It's very simple.  Jesus and His disciples came to a city called Nain.  (I really like that word for some reason.)  And they come upon a funeral procession.  A man, the only child of a widow woman, has died.  Jesus has compassion on the woman, the bereaved widow, who is no doubt distraught with grief.  He tells her not to cry, then touches the coffin the man is being carried in (this coffin probably didn't have a lid, which helps the rest of the story make more sense), and tells him to "arise."  And the man obediently sits up in the coffin and starts talking.

Every time i read or hear (or write about) these verses, i can't stop the tears from flowing.  And i think it moves me so much because it reveals Jesus' kindness.  In the previous verses, you can see that Jesus is sometimes trying to keep the whole "Son of God" thing a little bit on the down-low for now.  It's hard for Jesus to keep a low profile, what with all the miracles and crowds following him around, but still, you can see that He isn't really ready to make His big announcement and let the pieces fall where they may.  Folks get upset about you calling yourself the Son of God, and this move has to be timed well.

But in this moment, when Jesus sees the widow weeping, following the procession of her dead son out the city gates, He is moved with compassion and just jumps out there and stops the suffering.  I LOVE that!  

I can't even imagine the disbelief and celebration that followed this tiny, short, life-altering moment in the city of Nain.  And it makes me love Jesus so much!

11 Soon afterwards He went to a city called Nain; and His disciples were going along with Him, [a]accompanied by a large crowd. 12 Now as He approached the gate of the city, [b]a dead man was being carried out, the [c]only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her.13 When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, [d]Do not weep.” 14 And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” 15 The [e]dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16 Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has [f]visited His people!” 17 This report concerning Him went out all over Judea and in all the surrounding district.

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