37: A Funeral Procession Interrupted
The sun shone brightly in the clear blue sky. Sweet-smelling flowers raised their heads towards the sun. But a procession of silent, sorrowful people came from Nain's city gate. Slowly the procession moved down the hill on which the city was built.
Four somber men carried a stretcher. The body of a young man lay wrapped up on the stretcher. His face was covered. The young man was dead. At the head of the procession the young man's mother walked, weeping and wailing.
The mother was heartbroken. Her husband had died some time before that, leaving her with only one son. That son had worked and sweated for her and was a great comfort to her in her old age. Now that son had been taken away from her. She had once brought her husband to be buried in a dark cave in the side of a hill. On this horrible day she would have to bury her son, within hours of his death.
The woman had nothing left, no husband and no child for her to lavish her love upon. Who would work to put bread on her table? The future looked dark for her; it would be full of sorrow and worries.
She wept as she walked. Her neighbors and friends went with her. They joined her in mourning.
Eyes blurred with tears and heads bowed in anguish, they moved ahead slowly. The sun shone brightly overhead and the fields were in bloom.
There was also a procession coming up the hill. It was just as large as the funeral procession. The second procession moved to the side and stood waiting reverently to let the funeral procession through. The tearful mother didn't even see the second procession.
The second procession was made up of Jesus, His disciples and other people who were following Him. They watched sympathetically. They were moved by her heart-rending sobs. The disciples and the other people present, including the people of Nain, could feel only part of the mother's great pain. Jesus, who knew her as He knew all human beings and loved her as he loved the whole world, felt her pain as keenly as she did.
The grieving woman did not know that Jesus stood before her. Neither did she know that He had come to Nain for her sake and for the sake of her son. He had set out on this journey while the young man was still alive.
She asked him nothing, preferring instead to pass by in silence.
Jesus said, "Do not weep."
All heads were raised and all eyes were fixed on Jesus. Do not weep? Who could say such a thing in this sorrowful situation?
Jesus walked over to the stretcher. He laid His hand on it, and the bearers stood still. Then He addressed the dead person as if he weren't dead. "Young man, I say to you, get up!"
At once there was movement on the stretcher. The dead person sat up and began to speak haltingly, as if he had just woke up from a deep sleep.
Jesus took him by the hand and led him to his mother. It had all happened so quickly that people didn't quite know if they were dreaming or awake. Paralyzed with fear and amazement, they stared at the young man, who was already locked in his mother's embrace.
The realization finally dawned on them. This was no dream, the mother really had received her son from the clutches of death. They rejoiced and praised God for the great miracle.
"A great prophet has arisen among us!" they cried out to each other. "God has been gracious to His people." Rejoicing, they crowded around Jesus as He walked on and entered Nain's city gate.
The mother and her son walked arm in arm, among the happy people. They looked at each other constantly in love.
The stretcher lay forgotten on the sunny path outside Nain's wall.