Commentary by Juliana M. Jones
When the funeral crowd pushed through the gate, the people never would have suspected who was waiting for them on the other side. The young man—their friend and only son of the widow—was about to be given a second chance at life by God himself.
Jesus called the widow’s son “young man,” and since in those days boys became men at thirteen, I can imagine he was only a teenager. So full of life one day and gone the next. What could have happened to take him away?
In a recent episode of a popular, reality TV show, a contestant was pulled from the competition because of a life threatening infection at the knee joint. It had started with just a scratch and he soon needed hospitalization. In Jesus’s day, without proper sanitation and antibiotics, it probably didn’t take much for people to get sick and die from a little wound. I could imagine this young man getting nicked while playing the Nain version of soccer or stick ball with his friends. No matter how much his mother, the widow, loved him and told him to be careful, the tiniest, unseen thing could have ended her son’s life.
Take that in contrast to Jesus’s healing hand. Jesus’s help, mercy, and love is unseen too, but what power He has. With a mere touch and a command from Him, the young man rose. To witness this and hear the young man talk most likely made those in the crowd, his friends included, gasp and scream with joy. The people realized how immense is God’s power and they glorified God, seeing Jesus now as a great prophet, like Elijah in the first reading from 1 Kings.
These citizens of Nain were getting their first glimpse of Jesus as God, whereas we have the help of scripture and 2,000 years of Church teaching to help us understand Him better. He’s not just a prophet or a healer. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is the one, true God and although unseen, He is here to bring us to life.