The Raising of the Son of the Widow of Nain
Reflections on Luke 7:11-17 Part 1

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"I Say to You Arise!" (Luke 7:14)

I SAY TO YOU ARISE! (LUKE 7:14) Part 1

(A talk given during a Transform Sehion Ministries Meeting)

“I say to you arise!” This is the title of our talk today. “I say to you arise!” is also the call that Christ sends out to each one of us. These words are taken from the episode we are going to consider, the raising from the dead of the only son of the widow of Nain, Luke 7:11-17.

This episode is firmly rooted in reality as we would expect from Luke who also wrote the Acts of the Apostles, the early history of the Church. Luke sets the time, shortly after healing the centurion’s servant, and the place, the town of Nain. Neither the widow nor her son has a name, suggesting that we are to look beyond the actual characters to focus on the message and on the identity of Jesus. The event is therefore full of theological and spiritual significance. The episode takes us into the heart of the Christian message and into the heart of Christian living.

The name ‘Nain’ means ‘lovely’, ‘pleasant’, ‘charming’ because of the view the town offers overlooking a green fertile valley. The town constitutes the backdrop which evokes pleasantness, delight, beauty but here we are outside the town gate, and symbolically, outside everything the town represents. Jesus is making his way from Capernaum to Nain in the company of two categories of people, his disciples and a great crowd. They are approaching the town, and at the same time, walking in the opposite direction, is another crowd coming out of the town. This is a funeral procession led by the bearers of the open stretcher carrying the corpse of a young man, the only son of a widow. They are on their way to the place of burial. We might call this the procession of death and the following of Jesus, the procession of life. So there are two processions moving in opposite directions; one towards the tomb, the land of the dead; the other towards the beauty and delight of the town, the land of the living.

There are essentially three distinct categories of people in this episode. The first category is made up of all those who are in the procession of death. We can compare these to those people today who have not yet experienced that vital encounter with the risen Lord that leads to a change of life. These bear a spiritual corpse within, a spirit that is dead to God and insensitive to the abundant life, love and freedom that God has to offer. These are awaiting the new birth that will allow them to enter into the Kingdom of God and join the procession of life:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:5)

If there is anyone in this category here today who has not yet accepted Christ as Saviour and Lord of his life, now is the time to leave the procession of death and embrace the procession of life. Now is the time to listen to the voice of Jesus saying ‘I say to you, arise’, arise from your inner death and experience the new birth that will make all things new.

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