5 June 2016

Luke 7:11-17

“God has looked favourably on his people!” (v. 16)

Psalm: Psalm 146


The theme of the week is as old as time itself. The Bible itself begins with the story of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), describing rebellion in personal, individual terms. Then throughout the Old Testament one reads stories of both individual and national disobedience, as we will read in the book of 1 Kings this week. Yet time and again God judges, restores and saves. For Christians, looking at the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus and the New Testament, this narrative is infused with the saving love and grace of God as personified by Jesus himself.

Without wishing to suggest that Jesus went around Galilee looking for direct parallels with the Old Testament, the account of Jesus raising the widow's son in Nain would have reminded early Christians of other stories. One of those we will read on Friday in 1 Kings 17:8-16 when Elijah prays for the widow's son at Zarephath; and Elisha's healing of the boy at Shunem (2 Kings 4:17-37) takes place at Shunem, a short distance from Nain.

Jesus raises the boy at Nain and, as a religious teacher, he would have been well aware of both of these well known and oft-quoted stories about the prophets. Indeed, Jesus includes the story of the widow in Zarephath in what is regarded as his first sermon at Nazareth (Luke 4:26). It is therefore little wonder that in verse 16 the awe-struck witnesses to Jesus's healing say, "A great prophet has risen among us. God has looked favourably on his people." Such healings meant that Jesus was recognised by many of his contemporaries as a second Elijah.

The good news for Christians is that Jesus was not simply a prophet, but the Son of God. His ministry and mission were about bringing both individuals and the world back to God. The raising of the widow's son is one example. The task of Jesus was to reconcile and heal a broken world.

"Amazing love, how can it be, that thou my God shouldst die for me" wrote Charles Wesley in his hymn 'And can it be'.

To Ponder

  • Think of an example in national life where God's healing is needed. What is it?
  • In your own circle of family and friends, who needs a special healing from God today? Offer them to God.

Bible notes author

Michael King

Michael King is a Methodist local preacher. From 2000-2011, he was leader of the Methodist Church's World Church Relationships team, and was the vice-president of the Methodist Conference in 2012/2013.