Fear Seized Them All

Seeing a dead man sit up and talk is pretty scary.

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.

This one is different. Jesus is already known throughout the land for His miraculous healing powers. But now He takes this up a notch and raises someone from the dead. Yet, instead of just being excited, everyone is stuck with fear.

This miracle is visually shocking. A bier is just a board, not a coffin. When the dead man sat up and began to speak, it must have looked like a scene from a modern horror movie. Some of the mourners may have screamed or even fainted. Then Jesus gave him to his mother, which surely had a calming effect.

But fear still seized them all. It was a reverent fear – the word in Greek (phobos) also means awe or reverence – and they glorified God.

But the real kicker is that this miracle was unprompted. No one asked Jesus to do this. He didn’t mention anything about the mother’s faith either. This is bolt-out-of-the-blue grace.

The structure of the Gospel is starting to emerge.

At the heart of the Gospel is “surprise giving” – giving things not asked for, things not deserved. Salvation itself is surprise giving. We didn’t ask for it and we don’t deserve it. The hound of heaven just barges into our lives and raises us from the dead.

Christian means "Christ like,” and our challenge is always to be more like Him. Of course, Jesus was a surprise a minute. We’ll never be that good, but we can try.

But trying isn’t really the answer. Yes, trying to do surprise giving is good and glorifying to God, but only the Holy Spirit can produce deep change. The key to being more Christ like is prayer. The process of sanctification is supernatural, and if you want more of the supernatural you have to ask for it.

Ask the Lord to give you the wisdom and the spunk to be more like Christ.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.