Who has the authority to give life to the dead? Is death too late for Jesus?
Let’s look at Jesus’ authority over life and death.
We will look at Jesus’ resurrection of a widow’s only son in Luke 7:11-17 and how it is different than other resurrections by other prophets.
Luke 7:11 Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. 12 A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. 14 Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” 15 Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
16 Great fear swept the crowd, and they praised God, saying, “A mighty prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people today.” 17 And the news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding countryside.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
The crowd only saw Jesus to be a prophet. Compare the story of the widow of Nain to the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17)? As she provided for Elijah, the widow of Zarephath and her son were miraculously provided for. Then her son died. Elijah cried out to the Lord and he was restored to life. In Nain, Jesus spoke to the boy with divine authority, “get up.” There is one huge difference between Elijah and Jesus. Both were prophets, but only one was God with us. The author lets us behind the scene by calling Jesus the Lord, which in the Greek Septuagint Bible of the time was the same word used for Yahweh in the Old Testament.
Healing Where We Can
We do not have the gift of healing like Jesus can. He raised a widow’s son from the dead. We would all love to do the same, such things rarely occur. What can we do? We can all heal to some extent, even if not in such spectacular ways. Like Jesus we can notice the pain and suffering of others around us and we can care enough to have compassion. In a world where self interests are the fashion, we are to be different. We have many options to bring healing to a sick world, from encouraging words to personal investment of time and money. While most people just don’t give a damn about the poor and suffering, we must.
1. Not Magic
Do words have magical power? The belief that incantations are magic is associated with witchcraft not Christianity. We need to know the difference between magic and the power of God. Since ancient times miracles of manipulating nature, rescues from sickness, death and evil forces are recorded. Some thought that it was the words alone that caused the miracles and developed systems of magical incantations sometimes as scams, sometimes relying on self-seeking occult powers. Luke tells of Jesus reviving a widow’s dead son, but there was more going on than words of a mere incantation. There was divine authority behind the words. Our words can also be empty wishful words of incantation and magic unless we recognize God’s power behind it.
Do words have great psychological power? We know that negative words can destroy life just as readily as positive words can give life. Some people just suck the life out of others with their words. It can be disheartening. We may want to avoid them or love them at a distance. On the other hand, have you ever been around someone who just gave you energy, enthusiasm and excitement for life? My grandmother was such a person and I have met many individuals like that throughout life. They are wonderful blessings to be around. We may not all have the wonderful gifts of healing like Jesus did, but we can all encourage. Let us spread healing words wherever we go.
A Healing-Faith Fable
The idea that people are not healed because they lack faith is false. Miracles and healings come from God, but false prophets can also perform miracles (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Revelation 19:20). The difference is in the teaching. Is it false, heretical teaching or true, orthodox Christianity? In some churches people who are in wheelchairs or suffer from uncured diseases have been told that they lack faith to be healed. Is that true or just another fiction from unlearned preachers? In Nain Jesus healed a person who was already dead. What faith can a dead person exhibit? He was not even conscious and therefore unable to ask to be healed. The only criterion mentioned was Jesus’ compassion on a widow.
If Jesus can give life to a dead body, maybe he too can give life to a dead marriage, business, relationship, church, career, and even revive dead hopes and dreams. With Jesus it’s never too late. As God the Son, Jesus has authority to give new life to the dead. Death is not too late. With the same authority that granted a little boy life, Jesus can grant our dead things life including eternal life after our bodies which are wearing out finally expire.