I wonder if funeral directors in the first century got nervous at the sight of Jesus? After all, Jesus did have a habit of interrupting funerals. Let’s look at some examples.
A widow from Nain was about to bury her only son when Jesus came along and stopped the funeral procession. Luke 7:13 says, “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’” We must agree that she had something to cry about. Beyond the sorrow of losing her only son was the prospect of a life of hardship. There were not a lot of economic opportunities for women in those days, and a women without a husband or children to take care of her needs would find life extremely difficult. But Jesus changed the scenario in a drastic way. He spoke to the dead man, telling him to get up, and that’s exactly what he did! I love what v.15b says, “…and Jesus gave him back to his mother.” What a wonderful gift—to receive her only son back from the dead!
Then there is the time that Jesus raised Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter from the dead. The mourners who had gathered laughed when Jesus said that the girl was only asleep, for they knew she was dead. The laughter of the scoffers was quickly silenced when Jesus took her by the hand and told her to get up and she did just that! (Luke 8:51-56).
Of course there is the time when Jesus arrived at the tomb of his good friend Lazarus. Jesus shed tears of his own this time (John 11:35). But once again Jesus spoke and the dead came back to life. Yes, Jesus had a habit of interrupting funerals, changing extreme sadness to exuberant joy.
Here are some observations about what we see happening when Jesus came to a funeral. First is that life is precious. We mourn the loss of our loved ones because the life of every human being has great worth. From the moment of conception until the last breath a person takes on earth, each human life is of great value. Therefore, we must recognize the right to life, even as ignorant people still vigorously oppose the Word of God on this issue. Don’t ever waver on the basic truth that life is precious!
A second observation is that Jesus has complete control over death. He is, after all, the Author of life. It was through Jesus that everything has been created (John 1:3). He has been given all authority, even the authority over death (Matthew 28:18). What wonderful words Jesus speaks in John 11:25-26—“…I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Mary responded that she did indeed believe this. Every one of us is faced with the same question—Do you truly believe that Jesus has the power to give you eternal life? It is the most important question you will ever answer!
A final observation is this—Knowing what we know about the value of life and that Jesus holds the key to eternal life, we had better make sure that Jesus is welcome at our funeral!