Monday, March 26, 2007

A widow's only son

In today's New Testament reading, Jesus travels to the town of Nain upsets the apple cart, so to speak.
12As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out--the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.
Luke 7.12
A few years ago, when we studied this passage with some friends from Japan, we used a bilingual study guide written by a Finnish missionary who lived many years in Japan. Mailis has some great questions, and the last time I looked, she had them available for free download on her website. Searching on "Glad Tidings Mailis" (no quotes) will get you there in a few clicks at most.

Back to the passage: It's hard for many of us to imagine the hardships faced by a widow in those times. If I remember correctly, they had no legal rights. This widow's claim to her husband's property may have depended on her son's being alive; in losing her only son, she may have also been losing her dead husband's land as well.
13When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry."
Luke 7.13
In her study guide, Mailis mentioned that Jesus also says to you and to me today, "Don't cry." What burdens and griefs do we have, do I have, in which Jesus wants to comfort us? What makes it difficult to receive comfort from him, or what makes it easy to receive? I think in this case, the widow was perplexed, because she didn't know what Jesus was going to do next:
14Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" 15The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
Luke 7.14-15
An astonishing development! I wonder how the mother's relationship with her son changed after this. (I also wonder what he said when he started talking.) Had she been taking him for granted I wonder? And was it different after this incident?

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