A large crowd is following Jesus again. He seems to be a very popular guy. It’s hard to know the motives of the crowd, but the odds are it’s a mixed bag. If it’s a normal crowd, most of them are entertainment seekers.

As he approached the town gate, a dead person is being carried out: the only son of his mother, who had already lost her husband. And a large crowd was with her. Here we have a picture of total loss and complete misery. She is helpless, hopeless, and lost. Life is so hard on some people. We see and feel the pathos of despair. (ADDITIONAL NOTE: I see a fun literary picture: the large crowd of joy following Jesus meets the large crowd of grief following the woman.)
Here we see it: when Jesus saw her, his heart went out to her. Jesus feels her pain. It’s a unique kind of empathy rooted in deep love. Despite the clichés, the person actually feels the pain of the other. The chest gets tight and your brain triggers a depressive mood. Jesus enters her agony. He says to her, “Don’t cry.” Even though the people can’t tell, Jesus says this because he’s gonna do something.

“Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ ” Fascinating: Jesus never came across a dead body that he didn’t raise. Any intersection between Jesus and death ended in life. “He touched the coffin.” Why touch it? I think his touch is a symbol of the touch of God—of the power of God. It is a physical representation of a spiritual truth, as laying on of hands. And he says, “Young man, get up.” Here’s a funny part: He has to specify whom he is talking to, or all the dead will rise. In all three occasions where Jesus raises the dead, he addresses the person first. And with simple spoken words, he performs the miracle and the impossible happens: the dead man sat up and began to talk. I think he sat up so that we know it wasn’t some stunt such as ventriloquism. He started to talk so that we know it wasn’t just rigormortis. This was no misunderstanding by primitive, superstitious people. And, of course, they get close, but misunderstand: “He’s a great prophet!” Yeah, nice try, but they really don’t get it.

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