Later on, Jesus went to Nain with his disciples and a large crowd in tow. As he neared the city gate a dead man was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. Another large crowd from the city was with her.
When Jesus saw her, he felt terrible for her, and said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went over and touched the gurney so that the pallbearers stopped. And he said, “Dude, get up.” And the dead man sat up and started talking. So Jesus returned him to his mother.
The crowds were struck with apprehension. They acknowledged God, saying things like: “A great truth-teller has come to us,” and “God has come to our rescue.” And this news about Jesus shot through the whole Judean region.
The point of this is not to prove the Jesus can raise the dead. The point is to prove that Jesus can restore a relationship. The key line: “So Jesus returned him to his mother.”
It requires his attention to both sides of the estranged relationship. Her sorrow. His inaction. She’s not as alone in the world as she thinks. He needs to take responsibility for himself.
But what the crowd (which includes most readers) sees, of course, is the raise the dead thing. So instead of being thankful and rejoicing, they are struck with apprehension. Instead of seeing an example to do likewise, they interpret it as a sign that they will be rescued from beyond.
But the life, and the rescue of society is in the relationships. So too, is the hope of renewing life and restoring community in the ability of each of us to do as Jesus did. To have compassion, and then to do something to rebuild broken relationships. Even those that seem hopelessly dead.
[Hint: If you really want to do this, it will take paying attention to both sides.]
[Oh, and did I say, this is tremendously great news. So don’t be so apprehensive about it. Happy Thanksgiving!]