All funerals are bleak. But the one we read about in Luke 7:11–16 was especially disheartening. The Scripture says the man who’d just died was the only son of a widow. If you were a widow in those days, you were basically broke. Legally, you couldn’t own property or a business. You were dependent on relatives. Most directly, your son, if you were lucky enough to have one. If you didn’t have a son or if he died, then you were destined for certain poverty and dismay.
That’s what this widow was facing. Her husband had died, and now her only son was dead. She had a broken heart and a grim future. But then Jesus stepped into the situation.
Straightaway, he did something about the dire situation. He walked up to the stretcher and held on to it, enough so that those carrying the stretcher stood still. The funeral procession instantly ground to a halt. That’s when Jesus spoke to a dead man and told him to get up. It all happened so quickly. Scripture describes how the dead man rose up and began to talk. Then Jesus gave him back to his mother.
I love that there’s an exclamation point in the Bible right then. “Get up!” Jesus was reaching with his power and authority into death and commanding that which was dead to be alive again. Jesus wasn’t merely hoping something good would happen. He was giving death an order. “Death, you don’t have the power here. I have the power. You will obey!”
Immediately the young man sat up. Can you picture that? The graveclothes came loose, and he pawed at the coverings around his eyes. It was like a zombie movie, except this guy wasn’t a member of the living dead. He was completely alive, fully restored and made healthy again.
That’s the same word Jesus is saying to you now, the same word he said to that young man. “Get up!” Even though the enemy wants to bury you, Jesus is in the habit of interrupting funerals. He intersected the one in Nain as well as several others during his ministry, and he can intersect yours with the intentionality and power of the one who raises the dead.
The message of the gospel is that Jesus loves to interrupt funerals. In Jesus’ hands, he turns stretchers into worship celebrations. He grabs hold of your stretcher and tells you to live again. God wants to touch your life and use your life to raise up hope for your generation. It’s time to let Jesus shine his light of truth and mercy and grace and healing on you. It’s time for you to get off your stretcher and walk back into town.
It may be that the people who knew you best will stare at you in astonishment and exclaim, “What happened to you?” because they can’t believe it. They knew you were heading for the cemetery. But Jesus’ message is that there isn’t going to be a funeral today. He’s the God of the comeback. Let him touch you and heal you and turn your life around.
What does the story of the widow of Nail reveal about the enemy’s plans for us? What does it reveal about Jesus’ plans for us?
How can you see yourself in this story? How has Jesus rescued you from death?
What is Jesus doing right now to lead you away from the path of destruction?