Lesson 2: Miracles

Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.

– Martin Luther

Devotion: The resurrection of Jesus is the pinnacle of the New Testament. However, we are introduced to the power of God over death prior to Gethsemane. The gospels present three resuscitations from death (not “resurrections” since the people will die again) leading up to Jesus’ resurrection (Lk 8:49-56; Jn 11). The first involves a widow’s son. Read Luke 7:11-17.

Moved by pity for a widow, Jesus displays a power that is several steps beyond healing. There have been many healers in the world, but overcoming death represents a much greater order of power. Even in our technically advanced age, death is a barrier that, once solidly in place, seems impossible to overcome. This scene—a widowed mother’s eldest son has died outside Jerusalem—foreshadows Jesus’ own death (Lk 23:50-56). The people are filled with terrified awe, praise God, and proclaim the gospel: “God has truly visited us.” How does that proclamation mirror Jesus’ basic teaching about reign of God (Mk 1:14-15)? How should followers of Jesus view death? How does that view inform how we support others in their dying? In their grieving?  

Personal Worship Option: Read Romans 6:4. Jesus’ resurrection accomplishes more than giving us assurance of our own life after death. Knowing our future is secure in God should move us to live here and now in newness of life, with bold faith and audacious love for others. To what bold, audacious act is God calling you today?

Dig A Little Deeper:

Luke is the only gospel which reports this story. Jesus has a special place in his heart for women (7:36-50; 10:38-42). He often uses widows in teaching moments (4:25-26; 18:1-8; 20:45-23:4). Read James 1:27. Why is the care for widows and orphans a sign of God’s reign on earth?

7:12 Jewish custom requires burial to take place the afternoon following death. Giving honor to the dead is considered righteous work. How does our culture view “honoring” the dead?  

Upon seeing the large crowd of mourners, Jesus’ eyes move to the grieving mother. He speaks directly to her. Jesus is moved to act by compassion for the mother; no sign of faith precedes his actions.

7:13 This is the first of many instances where Luke describes Jesus as “Lord” (“Sovereign) (10:1, 41; 11:39; 12:42; 13:15). This term hints at Luke’s opinion of the story: Jesus is Sovereign of life and death. 

7:14 By touching the bier, Jesus is considered ritually unclean. Once again, Jesus sets aside ritual traditions to address a person’s needs. What does the Church need to learn from Jesus’ actions?

7:15 There is great irony in the phrase “the dead man sat up.” We may call this “resuscitation,” but that does not diminish its power. Luke refers to the young man as dead, and Jesus reports to John the “dead are raised” (7:22).

7:16 How might the people’s response be a link to similar passages with Elijah and Elisha (1 Kgs 17:17-24; 2 Kgs 4:32-37)? Note Jesus’ words about returning the boy to his mother match the prophet’s words in 1 Kings. What is being communicated about Jesus in this comparison?

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