A short story based on Luke 7:11-17
I’ll never forget that day. I was a young man then and many years have passed since that time, but the memory of it is as clear in my mind as though it had happened yesterday.
I was just one of the crowd. I rather enjoyed following this man Jesus around and seeing his illusions. He was the best magician I had ever seen. Blind people gained their sight, cripples walked, deaf ears heard. And the crowds, the excitement, the charged atmosphere when he spoke! It was invigorating and a welcome change from an ordinary day. Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed the diversion his appearance gave me from my job as a jeweler’s apprentice. I spent as much time as I possibly could away from the shop, tagging along with the crowd that inevitably followed Jesus. It wasn’t that I was particularly interested in him; I just loved to see the things he could do.
On this particular day I had started out somewhere in the middle of the large crowd that was following him. It was nearly dusk as we came upon the outskirts of Nain, a small village about ten miles southeast of Nazareth. With the continual shoving and jostling of the crowd, I suddenly found myself alongside Jesus. I had a firsthand view of what was to happen next.
As we approached Nain, we encountered a large group of mourners just passing through the town gate on their way out to the burial place. Their cries of sorrow were punctuated by wails of despair. As is the custom, the body was wrapped in a shroud and carried on a bier by a group of young men. The head of the body was unwrapped revealing the face of a young man. At the head of the procession was an older woman dressed in black garments. Obviously his mother, she was being supported by several other women. Tears were streaming down her face, and her head and shoulders were bowed down with a grief that seemed too heavy to bear.
As we drew near to the grieving woman I stayed close to Jesus. This situation was one that no magician could fix, but I was curious to hear what he would say to her.
We stopped directly in front of the woman. She lifted her head and looked at us through her tears. How was Jesus going to handle this? I watched him with great interest. He looked her full in the face and spoke to her with a gentle voice, “Don’t cry.” Then he made his way past her to the bier. As he approached and touched the bier, those carrying it stood still. And then he said the words. He spoke in a clear, firm voice. It was not a loud voice, but it carried through the waiting crowd. “Young man, I say to you, get up!” Before I had time to even question the impossibility of Jesus’ request, the impossible happened. The dead man sat up and began to speak! The funeral bier was lowered to the ground by the incredulous carriers; Jesus took the hand of the young man and helped him off the bier and onto firm ground. The man looked somewhat dazed; a mixture of bewilderment and joy was evident on his face. Jesus continued to hold his hand as he presented him to his weeping, laughing mother. There was a look of great satisfaction on Jesus’ face as the mother and son fell into each others arms.
I’ll never forget the reaction of the crowd. Initially there was a stunned silence. Then quiet whispers were heard, followed by a buzz of conversation, and within minutes the two crowds that had met by the town gate were united as one, shouting thunderous praises to God.
I remember very distinctly the awe that crept over me. For some reason I didn’t join in with the shouting throngs. My palms were wet; my knees were shaky. I felt weak. For the first time I knew with dread certainty that I was in the presence of God. I was overwhelmed by emotion. I wanted to weep, fall down on my face, make sense of what I was seeing and feeling. But I did none of these things. Instead, hardly breathing, I dared to steal a glance at Jesus. He too was quiet. Now, with all attention shifted away from Him and to the scene of the joyful reunion, there was a look of incredible sadness on His face.
Just then He looked at me and for a moment it was as though we were the only ones there. His eyes spoke volumes. Suddenly I was bathed in indescribable love, joy, and peace. His face broke into a smile and He spoke quietly for my ears only, “Rejoice my child. This one who was dead is now alive. And you, who were also dead, have been made alive.” I saw the glory of God in His face.
Then that shared moment was gone as someone grabbed His arm and demanded His attention. He was quickly swallowed up by the crowd.
As soon as my weak knees would carry me, I returned to the jeweler’s shop. The weakness soon faded, but the impact of His words and His smile remain with me until this day. From that day to this I have been a changed person, living to serve the God I love. Yes, the memory of that day is as sharp as though it happened yesterday – the day Jesus brought two people to life.