Summary: On the day of your life there should be a collision, both mourning and celebrating. How will you write the script for that day?
It is a story told only in the gospel of Luke. Jesus is coming into the community of Nain and around him a crowd of his followers jostled one another to get closer to their friend and teacher. And as often is the case when a group of like-minded people gather together the sound of laughter rose above the sound of good natured conversation. They spoke of the miracles he had performed and of the lessons he had taught. It was a great day to be alive and those following Jesus were celebrating life.
Another crowd gathered together that day in the same town at the same time. But instead of celebrating life they were mourning a death. The death of a son, a brother a friend. A life cut short. And we don’t know if it was cut short by an accident or an illness. But we do know that however his life ended it ended too soon and however the young man’s life ended it was a tragedy. And that was not the way it was supposed to be, children are supposed to bury parents, parents aren’t supposed to bury children. But it happens; as a matter of fact the first death recorded in the bible was not that of a father but that of a son. It was not an older person it was a younger person. But that doesn’t make it any more right.
And so here we have a collision of two worlds. On one hand we have a group celebrating and on the other hand we have a group mourning. Laughter and tears. One group looking ahead to all the future holds and the other group looking back to the past and what it had held.
This is week five of our Walking Dead series here at Cornerstone, a series that has taken us on a journey through the Biblical accounts of folks who were literally given their lives back. From the 10 Lepers in the first week, to Lazarus who Jesus called out of the tomb after he had been dead for four days, a valley full of dry bones that Ezekiel watched re-animate and come to life, to last week’s story of Eutychus who was literally bored to death before being raised from the dead.
And too often we just take these stories in stride but they are anything but normal. Dead people don’t come back to life.
The theme of course comes from a Television series of the same name, now in its fourth season. In the show “The Walking Dead” are those who have been infected by some unknown post-apocalyptic plague. The show follows Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes and a small band of survivors who are trying to stay alive and discover the cause of the plague.
It has developed a cult following and is one of the most popular shows on Television right now. But really when you get right down to it, it’s just a soap opera with Zombies.
But it’s not just television that has caught Zombie fever, it has even spread to academia, one example is the book “Zombie Autopsies” written by Harvard psychiatrist Steven Schlozman. Even my wife has caught the bug, so to speak, when she read “Pride Prejudice and Zombies” last year and enjoyed it.
Today we are looking at a tragic event that Jesus comes upon on his travels. And in this event we see the dichotomy that often appears in times of loss.
I see it most times that I gather in a family home to prepare for a memorial service for a loved one, a collision of two worlds.
Most times when I’m with a family to discuss a memorial service to be held for a family member you will hear the sound of sound of laughter comes from the next room mixed with the sobs as folks talk about their father, mother, brother, sister or friend. A collision of two worlds, as we celebrate the life of a loved one and mourn their death at the same time.
And on that hot Palestinian afternoon so many years ago in the middle of the collision was Jesus. And we are told on that day that Jesus’ heart broke as he saw this woman who had already lost her husband and now had lost her only son. And so he did what he had only done twice before, he reached out his hand and spoke to the boy and told him to arise and he did. And through his touch and his words Jesus defeated death. But the defeat was only temporary because we have to assume that the time came that the young man closed his eyes for one last time and died, and the second time the preacher from Galilee was not there to bring him back.