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A Funeral Procession

by Tim O'Hearn

There are people who can take any circumstance and turn it into a valuable lesson. Anything that happens is fodder for their imagination. The Teacher was one such person. We would be walking down the road and he would see sheep in the distance, and then he would start, ďI am the good shepherd.Ē He watched a farmer planting and said, ďA sower went out to sow;Ē and a lesson followed. Why, he could even use a funeral. Such was the case as we entered the village of Nain.

As usual, we had a pretty large crowd with us, so there was no shortage of witnesses to what was about to happen. We were about to enter the city, when we came upon a procession going the opposite way. It was a funeral for the only son of a widow. Once we learned that, we all knew what that could mean. This young man had been his motherís only support. His death would mean that she would have to beg, or starve. If she had other sons they could help her, but he was her only one.

The Teacher had compassion on her. (Indirectly he had compassion on everyone there, because many of these people would be unclean because of the dead body.) The Teacher even touched the bier to get the bearers to stop, thus making himself unclean. Then he spoke to the corpse, and told him to get up. Which, to our surprise, he did. When the young man spoke to his mother, probably asking her what was going on, the whole crowd praised God.

This event had passed from our immediate attention when a few days later a group of Johnís disciples came up to the Teacher. This was the teaching moment.

They asked on behalf of their master, ďAre you the one to come, or do we wait for another?Ē

Before he gave his typical non-answer, the Teacher gave a demonstration. We never were lacking in people wanting healing. So the Teacher healed; sickness, demon possession, even blindness. Then he sent the men back to John with instructions to tell him what they had just seen. He added, ďAnd if these are blessed by this healing, how much more blessed will be those who are not ashamed of me.Ē

After Johnís disciples left, he turned to the rest of us and asked what we had expected of John. Did we expect him to cater to our whims? Did we expect him to be well-dressed like those in palaces? (If we did expect that, we would have been sorely disappointed by his camel hair and leather garb.) Did we expect a prophet. (In that we were not to be disappointed.) The Teacher called John much more than a prophet; indeed he was the promised precursor to the highly-anticipated Messiah. He called John the greatest prophet born to a woman. And yet, said he, the least of the citizens of Godís kingdom is greater than John. He was talking to and about us. As great as John is, so much greater are we just by being a part of Godís kingdom. What a concept! I am greater than the greatest of the prophets. I am somebody. I am a contender.

Many of the people rejoiced at this thought, because they had been immersed by John. Some of the Pharisees, on the other hand, were not comforted because they had rejected John.

The Teacher even took this as a teaching opportunity. He proceeded to show the inconsistency of these people. They vilified John as demon-possessed because of his lifestyle. The Teacher followed a more liberal practice, and yet they condemned him for being what they had expected of John.

To the Teacher, everything is a teachable moment. He is never afraid to take advantage of those opportunities.

(Based on Luke 7:11-35)