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The Raising of the Son of the Widow of Nain
Reflections on Luke 7:11-17 Part 3


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"I Say to You Arise!" (Luke 7:14)

I SAY TO YOU ARISE! (LUKE 7:14) Part 3

(A talk given during a Transform Sehion Ministries Meeting)


Jesus was not at Nain on this particular day and at this precise moment by pure chance. Neither is he here present today for each one of us by chance. Chance does not exist for the Christian. The Spirit is at work here drawing each one of us to the group of Christ’s disciples and not to be just one of a crowd.

The fact that death and suffering are present in this passage might induce some to intellectualise about the problem of evil and belief in God. I, for my part, do not look for a God of explanations for
as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)

We cannot explain God, neither can God explain himself to man. Man is unable to grasp fully the thoughts and ways of God; he can only believe and trust. Suffice it to know that
as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22)
Through one man Adam, came sin and the consequences of sin, death and suffering, through another man, Jesus, comes life. That is all I know on earth, and all I need to know”.

My God is the God who penetrates the darkness of evil and suffering, who bears our suffering and frees us from the power of evil. My God is one who carries wounded humanity as a shepherd carries the wounded lamb on his shoulders to safety. My God is the all powerful One who has become powerless, the invincible One who has become vulnerable, the Fortress that has become defenceless, the Holy One who has become cursed, the victorious One, who is defeated. My God is the God on the cross, icon of fallen humanity and of the love of God coming together. This is my God, the God who saves us because he becomes one of us, the God who lives in us and works through us and transforms us, restoring that image and likeness of God that man once fully possessed and that through him can now fully regain on condition that we are ready to listen to the invitation to arise.

There are many people in need of healing in this passage but the focus is on the young man who died an unnatural, premature death and on the widow, his mother, who is in need of inner healing. All hope has already been buried. There remains only the corpse of her only son to bury. The widow has no support, no source of income; she has no husband to provide for her, she has no son to replace her husband, no pension, no social services, no benefits, no national health system. She has nothing. She is overwhelmed by circumstances, drained of life. But her strength lies in her radical weakness: "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). It is when she and when we have reached the end of the line, the end of our strength, the end of our self-confidence and self-sufficiency that God stoops down and steps right into our weakness to transform it from within.

It is when we reach this stage, and perhaps only then, that we become receptive and hear clearly the voice saying: ‘I say to you, arise’ and he who speaks these words to us gives us the power to arise because he has the words of life, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

The bonds of death are strong; the people of the town are bound together in sorrow, sadness and despair. The bonds of death are powerful; the bonds of death are definitive, that is, until we experience that vital, liberating encounter with the Lord and giver of life, the encounter with he who overcomes death and suffering. Here in the text we have death, physical and spiritual, personal and social. Here we have humanity in the grip of death. We are all part of that same humanity, all descendants of Adam who “fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image” (Genesis 5:3), in contrast to our original image and likeness of God. Christ is the perfect image both of God and of man. Both images come together in his person, God and man, both become one in him.
The bonds of death and condemnation may indeed be strong but the bonds of divine love and compassion are even stronger for those who are in Christ Jesus There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1, 2)

Next page Luke 7:11-13 Reflections part 4 >>
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