The word compassion is a funny one. Passion means suffering which is where we get movie that follow the crucifixion of Jesus like The Passion of Christ and spring time dramas acting out the crucifixion of Christ known as passion plays. I always thought it was funny to hear the word passion to describe Christ’s trial and crucifixion until I learned where we get the word from and what it really means. Suffering and passion. When you get down to it it also explains a lot about human relationships that are passionate. Which is mildly ironic given that Valentine’s Day is next week but that’s perhaps a discussion better left for another day. In any case, com-passion means suffering-with so when Jesus shows compassion for someone, he is suffering with them.
In today’s story, Jesus suffers with a widow whose only son has died. This is bad news for her in a couple of ways. The most obvious likely manifests itself in her grief at the loss of her son. It must have been palpable. It hurts when someone you love dies. No surprise there, thanks for that pastor obvious. It’s also bad news for her because she has no way to make a living. A widow depended on her son to make sure she had what she needed to live on and now this widow has no son. And she has no idea of what will happen to her.
Jesus then suffers with her. Jesus then has compassion with her. Jesus has compassion for her and raises her son from the dead. In this story Luke shares with his readers, with us that as we’ve gone along Jesus has healed many. Now Luke shares with his readers, with us, that Jesus overturns death. With compassion for the widow Jesus raises her son from the dead.
This act of raising the son from the dead gives us an idea of the power that Christ has over death and foreshadows the Easter story. We know the Easter story but the people around Jesus don’t yet and they’ll need a little help grasping Christ’s victory over death following his suffering with us, following his passion with us, following his crucifixion for us.
It is in his compassion, his suffering with us that gives us hope for Jesus overturning our death. When all is said and done in this earthly life, not all is said and done. Christ has the power over death and Christ has the final say over death and Christ says to the widow and Christ says to us, death will not prevail!
In the sure and certain hope of Christ’s victory over the son’s death and of Christ’s victory over his own death we are assured of Christ’s victory over our eventual death. That’s important because it sets the stage for our lives. If we don’t have to spend time worrying about our own death then we’re freed to spend time doing a bunch of other things. If we don’t have to worry about death, and we don’t, then we’re freed to Bring Christ’s Love to Life.