Jesus has options we don’t have (Luke 7:11-17)

INTRODUCTION. A post appreciating Jesus’ divine ability to perform miracles as evidence of His identity.

In the pages of the gospels, the Lord Jesus displays His deity in a continuous stream of divine miracles. Our Savior casually does what only God can do, and He does these things without fanfare or pretense, and He does them repeatedly, and He performs these miracles in the presence of many witnesses. These attesting signs point to one obvious conclusion: Jesus is God in human flesh.

I have been particularly struck by Jesus’ miracles in the gospel of Luke and over the next several weeks I hope to write my impressions of those events. But before we look at the Lucan miracles, I want to share a few thoughts about Jesus’ earthly ministry and how plainly His entire ministry attests to His identity.


By His regal demeanor, Jesus assumes His full authority over every situation. Jesus is the King, and He is fully aware of His royalty. As King, He is always the One directing the action and He is always the unrivaled focus of attention. In every scene, He is the most important person, and around Him mere mortals, both righteous and unrighteous, revolve.

Without the slightest trace of pride or condescension, Jesus reigns over all other men. Sinners appropriately fall before Him in worship, seeking His compassion and His forgiveness of their sins, and Jesus accepts their worship as His due while giving them the divine compassion and forgiveness they seek.

Even in the days of His flesh, when He had “taken the form of a bond-servant and been made in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:7), Jesus reigns. Jesus Christ wears His divine authority as an eagle wears its flight. As the eagle gives no thought to his flight, so Jesus gives no thought to His sovereignty. As the eagle soars because soaring is the essence of what it means to be an eagle, so Jesus reigns over all because sovereignty is the essence of being God.

Jesus reigns over His enemies and adversaries. While perfectly knowing His enemies’ vicious intentions, Jesus nevertheless directly confronts the Pharisees and the scribes and passes divine judgment on them. Without a trace of vengeance or hatred, Jesus condemns the self-righteous and warns them of the coming judgment. Jesus condemns and passes judgment because, as God, He has the authority to do so (Romans 9:18).

Jesus is God, and His miracles and demeanor and words consistently attest to that fact.


Since Jesus is divine and has authority over the normal operations of nature, He has options that we don’t have. As God, Jesus always has at His disposal the option to perform a miracle to remedy a situation. This post explores one of those situations from Luke 7:11-17.

LUKE 7:11-17. This event takes place early in Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Jesus is going along with His disciples and a large crowd, and as He is approaching a city called Nain, He and the crowd are met by a funeral procession coming out of the city. It turns out that the man who had died was the only son of a widow from Nain. That is the context for this story.

Given this context, we would all agree that there are no options for the widow. Humanly speaking, the only possible outcome for this scene is that the dead man will be buried and will be mourned and then his widowed mother will need to find some means of survival, since all the men in her life who could provide for her are dead. In a funeral, there simply are no options. Death is final and it eliminates all human options. There may be burial options, but there are no outcome options.

So, no one in the crowd around Jesus or in the funeral procession was expecting anything but a burial. The widow’s only son was dead and it was a sad day. Jesus may witness the funeral and He may experience the sadness of the day, but like all other human beings, He had to bow before the finality and the power of death. Or did He?

13 When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.”

“He felt compassion for her.” It is amazing to think that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, feels compassion for wretched human beings like us, but here the Lord feels compassion for this woman He has never met before. He is emotionally moved and feels her pain and sorrow.

But what Jesus does next is what is truly astounding. For Jesus not only feels compassion for this destitute widow, but He also decides to act. We mentioned before that Jesus has options that mere mortals do not. For us, death eliminates options. Death always has the final word and all funerals end in burials. But Jesus is no mere human. Jesus is God veiled in human flesh and as God, death is subject to Him. He decides when death gets the final word. And on this occasion, Jesus chose to deny death its usual victory.

14 And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

It is hard to imagine a more unexpected set of circumstances. Jesus walks up to the coffin to stop the funeral procession, then issues a command to the dead man. When was the last time you were at a funeral and someone issued a command to the dead person? You would have to assume that the person speaking to the corpse was out of their mind. But Jesus, in front of a vast crowd, commands the corpse to get up, and the corpse obeys! Upon hearing the voice of God, death releases its hold on the dead man and the man sits up in the coffin and begins to speak. Then Jesus, in an act of compassion, gives the revived son back to his mother.

The crowd is understandably stunned.

16 Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!”

In the face of this astonishing miracle, fear grips the crowd. They have just witnessed the impossible and such power in their midst is frightening. Perhaps they grasp the truth of their own words, “God has visited His people!”

SDG                 rmb                 6/25/2022                   #548

Death obeys Jesus (Luke 7:11-17)

Funerals today were not that different from funerals in the ancient world. The essential elements are the same. There is a dead body that is being carried to a grave. The life of a loved one has ended, and there is no bringing them back. Everyone understands the rules. You can weep and you can wail, or you can suffer silently as you grieve the death of this person who was so recently alive and full of life and who is now cold and silent as a stone, but there is nothing that you can do to remove death from the scene. Death has again stolen from you another of life’s traveling companions. That is just the way it is at funerals. Well, at most funerals. Unless Jesus happens to be passing by.

In the seventh chapter of the gospel of Luke we read of a funeral procession coming out of the city of Nain. It is like every other funeral, because there is a corpse and there is a crowd of mourners walking beside the corpse. In the funerals of two thousand years ago, the coffin was carried by a group of bearers, much as pallbearers carry coffins today, and so the coffin of a young man was being carried out of the city. The dead man was the only begotten son of his mother and she was a widow (Luke 7:12), and so this funeral is marked by an extra degree of sadness, as this widow is now alone in the world. Other than this greater sadness, this is a very ordinary funeral.

Meanwhile, Jesus and His disciples have just arrived in Nain, accompanied by a large crowd, and the Lord approaches the funeral procession. “He felt compassion for her (the widow), and said to her, ‘Do not weep (7:13).’” The Son of God is not stoic or emotionless or distant from those who suffer, but He feels their pain. Jesus knows the damage that sin has done to the world and He feels compassion for human misery and sadness. As any caring Rabbi would do, He comforts those who mourn. So, He said, “Do not weep.”

But Jesus is no ordinary Rabbi whose comfort is limited to compassion.

And He came up and touched the coffin, and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” – Luke 7:14

The crowd had been hushed as Jesus had approached the coffin, wondering what He was going to do. Then Jesus had spoken to the dead man as if he were someone who could respond. The crowd was confused, and His disciples were probably embarrassed. “Jesus, the young man is dead. Imagine the pain You are inflicting on his mother.”

“Young man, I say to you, ARISE!”

The corpse sat up and began to speak. – Luke 7:15

At Jesus’ command, he who was dead came back to life. “And Jesus gave him back to his mother.” Jesus’ compassion for the woman was demonstrated in a miraculous act.


The miracle Jesus performed is so spectacular that it is hard to put into words. How can we get our mind around this event? Imagine being there and witnessing this in person. A dead man who is the subject of the funeral procession is raised to life and begins once again to speak to his mother. It would almost be terrifying to see this. “Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, ‘God has visited His people (Luke 7:16)!’” What can we learn from this event?

First, Jesus displays His deity by speaking the corpse back into life. We see that, when Jesus raises the dead to physical life, it is to demonstrate that He is God in human flesh. This miracle was done for the same reason all His miracles were done, to demonstrate that He is the divine Son of God.

Second, we see from this miracle that death is subject to the Lord Jesus Christ, and because death is subject to Him, when Jesus commands, death must obey. Here, Jesus commanded the dead man to arise, but that meant that He also commanded death to release its grip on the man. At His command, Jesus has authority to remove physical death. Jesus is Lord over death, which means that He is Lord over my death, and He is Lord over your death. Death cannot act except at Jesus’ command. Therefore, Jesus is the one who will determine when death comes to me.

Finally, in this instance with the corpse in Nain we have a foretaste of what will happen on the last day at the end of the age, when instead of a funeral procession it will be a glorious Resurrection. On that day, “all who are in the tombs will hear His voice (the voice of the Son of Man) and will come forth (John 5:28-29).” Instead of rising to die again, all disciples of Jesus will rise to a resurrection of life (John 5:29). This body of our humble state will be transformed into the body of the glorious Lord Jesus (Philippians 3:20-21) and we will rise to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). On that day, Jesus will speak, and we will all rise.

“My people, I say to you, ARISE!”

SDG                 rmb                 5/25/2021 #407