Tuesday 30 January 2018

Bible Book:

“When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’” (v. 13)

Luke 7:11-17 Tuesday 30 January 2018

Psalm: Psalm 11:1-5


In yesterday’s passage, Jesus announced that he had not found the faith of the non-Jewish centurion in all of Israel. Well, we should not interpret this as Jesus rejecting the people of Israel. As if to emphasise this, today’s miracle involves an Israelite. Not only an Israelite, but a poor, female Israelite – a real contrast to yesterday’s wealthy, male, non-Israelite.

Jesus has moved from Capernaum to Nain. It is believed to be a town about a day’s journey from Capernaum. As he entered, a funeral cortege was on its way out. A widow had lost her only son. And with no male relative to support her, the widow’s future looked bleak.

In contrast to the previous miracle, this widow did not come looking for Jesus. There is no indication that she even knew who he was when she passed him. Indeed, Luke’s Gospel does not suggest that the widow showed any sign of faith that the situation was going to change. Jesus’ actions were all on his own initiative and flowing from his compassion for the lady.

Putting the two miracle stories together provides an interesting snapshot of Jesus. Earlier in Luke’s Gospel, the people of Nazareth had rejected Jesus’ statement about himself (Luke 4:16-30). On that occasion, Jesus reminds them of Elijah raising the widow of Zarephath’s son (1 Kings 17:8-24) and Elisha healing the Aramean (modern-day Syria) army official Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-19). With Jesus performing such similar miracles, is it any wonder that the people cried out that a prophet had been raised up for them?

The response of the people wasn’t just jubilation, but also fear. Elsewhere in the New Testament we can read of Jesus’ ministry being about removing fear (eg Romans 8:15-17). However, it seems clear that when the people came into such close contact with the activity of God the natural response was fear and wonder. Maybe it was less about the fear of a tyrannical ruler, and more a fear flowing from a recognition that one is in the presence of something so wholly other.

To Ponder

  • Is there still a place for approaching God with fear? If so, in what situations?
  • What moments have there been when God has surprised you?
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