By Rev. Eric Brown
“Then He came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still.” – Luke 7:14
There are lots of different ways to think of or to describe what Jesus came to do. However, this text in Luke 7 gives us one of the most simple and beautiful ones imaginable. Jesus came to stop death in its tracks.
You have two crowds, two parades barge into each other. Jesus has a crowd following Him, but as He comes to a town called Nain, there’s another crowd. A funeral crowd. A widow has lost her only son, and that crowd is mournfully heading out to bury him. It’s really a depiction of a battle, of two armies crashing together: Christ versus death.
And what does Jesus do, how does He stop death? Jesus walks up and He touches the bier, the thing the body was carried upon. First of all, this wasn’t done. If you were a good Jewish boy you didn’t want to touch a dead body, and you certainly didn’t put your hands on the bier. But what does Jesus do? God become Man takes His Hand, His Body, and sticks it right up in death’s face, stops death cold. And then He speaks a Word, and the dead man hears and rises alive.
This is why Jesus became Man in the first place. Jesus came to stop death in its tracks not just one day outside of Nain, but for good when He was nailed to the wood of the Cross. Jesus rushed headlong into death itself with His own death, and He destroyed death from the inside. He rose on the third day, and thus when He comes again He will say to every single last one of us, even if we have long since died, “I say to you, arise.” And you will. Because Jesus stops death, and in its place gives life.
We often see the power of sin or death at play in this world. We see all sorts of things that are just flat out wrong, and we get caught up and battered by it all. But Jesus does not let them stand. He will put and end to them all, no matter how they have hurt and wronged you, and instead He will give you life. That is His gracious promise He made to you at your baptism, the gift He freely gives you.
Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois and the co-host of the HT Gospeled Boldly Podcast.