If there’s any place I think someone wants to be inconspicuous at, it’s at a funeral. Beyond the focus placed on the loved one lost, the attention then belongs to the grieving ones left behind. But I remember once stepping out of the shadows of the group of mourners. Though it was brief, it was embarrassing. We had all just left our cars and were walking toward the graveside. And then it happened . . . the horn on our van started going off. The side door hadn’t been fully closed and when I pressed the lock button on my key fob, the van decided to alert me that it was not as secure as it needed to be. Fortunately, I was able to silence the horn fairly quickly. But not before it interrupted the solemn walk of those preparing to say their final good-byes. Note to self . . . in the future, avoid interrupting funeral processions.
This morning I was reading of another funeral were the focus was diverted. But this was no accidental interruption . . . it was a divine visitation.
Soon afterward [Jesus] went to a town called Nain, and His disciples and a great crowd went with Him. As He drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave Him to His mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited His people!” (Luke 7:11-16 ESV)
What would it have been to be part of that “considerable crowd” accompanying the widow, as she prepared to bury her only son, when Someone emerges from the crowd and says, “Stop?” Unknown to any of the mourners, whose heads and eyes were lowered in solemn anticipation of a final good-bye, was that heaven’s eyes were also lowered, but in anticipation of an unexpected reunion. The crowd looked at the lifeless body on the bier and mourned. Jesus looked upon the grieving mother and had compassion. And then says to her, “Do not weep.” And then says to the dead man, “Arise.” And Jesus gave him to his mother.
Talk about a change in plans. Put away the eulogy for another day. Save those final words of fond remembrance for such a fine young man. Instead they glorify the God who has power to raise the dead.
They sang His praise. They marvelled at His power. Though they didn’t fully comprehend who Jesus was, they knew that through Him “God had visited His people!”
And I pause and whisper, “Yes! . . . Yes He does.”
People dead in trespass and sin, raised in newness of life. Funeral processions interrupted by resurrection. Mourning replaced with dancing. Weeping supplanted by wonder. Because God has visited His people.
The Creator entered creation. He who “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” emptied Himself and took upon Himself flesh and blood so that He might walk among those for whom He would die. Die so that, through His death, they would know life . . . real life . . . life to the full.
How complacent can we become concerning such divine visitation? How familiar is it that our LORD is the great interrupter of funerals? Just look around at the people we gather with Sunday after Sunday . . . each one, at one time, a dead man . . . a dead woman. At one time lifeless . . . carried through life with no hope but the grave. But all now raised in glorious life . . . their funerals forever interrupted. All because of heaven’s great compassion. All because of the Father’s unfailing love. All because of the Son’s once for all sacrifice. All because of the Spirit’s life giving power.
All for the glory of God . . . forever praised for His divine visitation!