We label lots of good things as amazing. How about this?
11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
While this writing duo has been known to mention why life sucks sometimes, we are not actually blind to the goodness that tends to befall people.
Now recently I, Maddie, took a step into the unknown. As a drama student I’m often pestered to audition for various things. Most of the time I find some pretty words to say no, and never think about it ever again. It scares me an awful lot. I’m not bad at drama, I’m just bad at being confident.
Somehow, though, a nauseous and terrified Maddie recently dressed in drama blacks and prepared herself for what was SURE to be the most humiliating experience of her life. When the cast lists were released the following Friday, my friend Louise took one list at the names. There was mine tucked in-between hers and that of another friend, and we went completely mental. Excitement and joy!
And no doubt you have your version of this story. Pause for a second and think about something surprisingly joyful that’s happened in your life, when fear turned to excitement. Feel the exhilaration, the warm sensation in your chest, the inevitable smile plastered on your face. Amazing!
All this, however, pales into insignificance compared with what we read in Luke’s gospel today. When it comes completely overturned expectations, nothing comes close to the experience of the widow and her son – death to life!
The narration of this event, while brief, puts us in the moment. Luke invites us in to really experience it, as if we are standing there and watching. We see the real compassion of Jesus. We see the awesome power of Jesus. And we are invited to experience the wonder of the event, to feel the joyful amazement of the woman and the crowd and (presumably!) the young man.
It’s important that we do. From this distance, we can read these records in a very disconnected way. It’s like our train of thought goes, “Jesus raised someone from the dead…. OK, great…. Hmm, I wonder what I’ll have for lunch today.” But this event was transformational for the widow and her son, and it so impacted the witnesses that spread the news everywhere. They understood that God was doing something unprecedented. And from this side of history, we know that it pointed to the coming of the greatest event of all, Jesus’ victory over death for all time.
So next time you unexpectedly get picked for a play, or something equally astounding, make sure you put it in context of the amazing Jesus!
Head: Do you get excited by the stories where God’s kingdom breaks into our world through Jesus? Why or why not?
Heart: What things excite you? When do you feel relief or deep joy? What do they tell you about your heart?
Hands: Make a note in your calendar, diary, phone or prayer notes to thank God for something amazing that happened to you recently. And at that time, reflect and stand in awe of the amazing things we read in Luke.
Prayer: Our Father, thank you for the life, works, death and resurrection of Jesus. Please help us to appreciate him more. Amen
A song to listen to: Rejoice
Geoff Pryde and Maddie Pryde- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina