Everything was arranged: once the funeral was over, all were to go to Hephzibah's house for the after-funeral dinner. It was the way things were done in Nain, typical of the customs followed by citizens of the Jewish towns of the Galilee.
Two hired mourners led the way. One played a dirge on his flute; the other wailed. The town rabbi came next, rehearsing to himself the kaddish, the graveside prayer. Two men followed close behind, bearing on a stretcher the body of a boy, only lately relieved from the fever that had stolen away his life.
Beside the stretcher his mother blindly stumbled in inconsolable grief, guided only by occasional nudges from the stretcher. The townspeople were next, whispering to each other, "Could anything worse have happened to this poor widow? Her only son!"
At first, no one noticed the Stranger. He had intercepted the procession. Boldly He stepped forward and blocked the widow's way. Surprised, she looked up, and instantly the Nazarene caught her tear-filled eyes in His gaze.
"Don't be afraid," He said. Somehow she sensed that He felt her sorrow, not as a stranger, but as a kinsman. He made Himself unclean when He touched the stretcher, something only a close relative would do. Everyone froze, even the mourners fell silent. He said, "Young man, I tell you, get up!" Before anyone could scold or accuse, the boy sat up and rubbed his eyes, as if awakening from a nap.
Who could keep from weeping for joy and praising God? The funeral procession became a triumphant parade, and Hephzibah's funeral dinner became a celebration banquet. Once more the Master had comforted the brokenhearted, resurrected the dead, and unexpectedly changed mourning into laughter.
The good news is: He still brings celebration with Him wherever He goes. He wants to become your kinsman even now. Today His touch still means new life. Even the flutist changed his tune. You will too.
Steve Singleton has written and edited several books and numerous articles on subjects of interest to Bible students. He has taught Greek, Bible, and religious studies courses Bible college, university, and adult education programs. He has taught seminars and workshops in 11 states and the Caribbean.
Go to his DeeperStudy.com for Bible study resources, no matter what your level of expertise. Explore "The Shallows," plumb "The Depths," or use the well-organized "Study Links" for original sources in English translation. Sign up for Steve's free "DeeperStudy Newsletter."