Luke 7:11-17 (ESV)
Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him.  As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her.  And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep."  Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, arise."  And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.  Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited his people!"  And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
The only son of his mother. The greek once again has monogenes, which elsewhere is translated only begotten in reference to Jesus. Begotten doesn’t quite work here, as that usually refers to the Father’s act in procreation. The idea is this mother only had one son of here generation. Which is more truly what the word monogenes means, only generated. Meaning she could have had children that were adopted or what not. This was her only son. It is important to the narrative.
Children were your social security in these days. The more children you had the better off you’d be when you were too old to work. And yes people got to the point where they were too old to work, even in these days. Her son dying, leaves her destitute. Now she has no son, and no husband.
Jesus resurrects the man. He awakens him to life. Jesus does this here and there through the Gospels. Jesus sympathizes with those who suffer. And throughout the Old Testament death is treated as an enemy. The new testament actually personifies death, treats death as if it were a person. Death is an enemy, from which we must be saved.
Death, sometimes I wonder if we ever come to grips with it. Perhaps we think we do. I doubt it. Death is what robs life of all meaning and purpose. It comes home to roost when parents bury their children. This mother, her only son. Brings up nightmares to think of it. I’m not sure children even comprehend it until they have children. Lived half my life without a care in the world. A child comes along, all the sudden life starts having a bit more meaning and purpose than it had before. Hard to explain that maybe. Just something you experience. All the sudden, there is someone who depends upon you completely; you live to hear them, to see them. They give you the fondest memories. And death has a way of turning all that joy into an unfathomable sorrow. It makes a person ask, what is the meaning of life? That question is always asked against the backdrop of death, of loss. It isn’t a question a happy person asks. Happy people dismiss the question. When you’re happy the meaning of life seems simple, it is to be happy. It is to go on enjoying the life just as you have.
One wonders at the joy the mother must have had to see her son brought back to life. And perhaps we dream of knowing that joy in our own lives. That joy waits for us. Oh we may think we want that joy now. To be resurrected in this world though, only means to die again at some later date. Jesus didn’t come for such temporary fixes. He came to conquer death once and for all, and he did so with his own death, with his own resurrection. That resurrection is our resurrection. Buried with him into death, we are raised to new life. On the last day, we will be resurrected; we will be given eternal life in his name, because we have been given eternal life in his name. On that day, joy in life, the way life is supposed to be will be restored. No one will ever ask, “What is the meaning of Life?” It will be selfevident in the joy reunited with friends and family, reunited with Christ, reconciled to God.