This is a short piece inspired from Luke 7:11-17. We spent some time as a DTS one week really digging into this miracle. When you really start thinking about all little details that make up even a short story in the Bible, it really comes alive. I enjoyed creating this account of what it would have felt like to be there by Jesus’s side on that day.
The valley floor was a cloud of dust, swirling up around the hundreds of sandeled feet following behind Jesus. I lifted my tichel over my mouth, shielding my face against the grime and smell. I peered up into the sky. The setting sun was just above the horizon, a haze of orange and fading yellow.
We had been traveling down from Capernaum since morning. Our destination was unclear. Only Jesus knew. The crowd only wished to be with Him, to hear his voice and feel his healing touch. I was weary, my feet sore and my skin hot from the all day journey. I had yet been able to speak to Jesus. He was in front of the crowd, surrounded by his close disciples and the little children, who still had energy to run and play around their feet. I could hear the laughter even from where I was back in the crowd.
I began pushing forward through the shuffling bodies, determined to make my way towards Jesus. I glanced around those I passed. Fathers, whose beards were covered in a thin film of dust, eyes shadowed. Mothers who held their fussy children’s sticky hands, while their own foreheads were beaded with droplets of sweat. The crippled, with their twisted knees and knotted feet, hobbled behind, some carried by the kindness of others. The blind, their marbled eyes lifted to the sky, beating their staffs against the ground as they followed the voices and footsteps of the crowd around them. Rabbis were scattered throughout the people, holding their white tallits close to avoid touching the sick. Their tzitzits dangled against their robes. I walked a wide berth around each of them.
I could just see Jesus’s bare head, long dark hair loose, because his head shawl had fallen around his shoulders. Beside him was Peter, tall and broad-shouldered, talking animatedly with his large fisherman hands. Just back a few paces to the left were James and John, young beardless faces hidden from view. Just over their heads, the clay structures of a small village came into view. I heard the word “Nain” sweep in whispers through the crowd. The momentum of the people began to slow, though Jesus and his closest followers seemed to pick up speed and move ahead, straight towards the village.
Suddenly above the voices of the crowd around me, an all too familiar wailing noise arose in front of us. I shoved through the front of the crowd and burst out into the space behind Jesus, the disciples and the children.I could see the blur of black moving from the main road from Nain. Women, heads covered, faces down, wailing the dirge of the dead. I felt my chest tighten. We should move away. I had seen the tombs just outside along the road as we had passed only moments ago. The crowd behind me grew eerily quiet, as realization of the approaching funeral procession fell upon us. Everyone began to shuffle off the road in respect. But Jesus and those directly beside him did not. I hurried up behind James and John.
“Why isn’t he stopping?” I whispered to them.
Both shrugged, eyes on Jesus as we continued to walk forward. I heard the crowd gasp. The mourning cries grew louder from the approaching women. I could now see a second group holding a wooden stretcher above their heads, white clothes draped across a small body. It was a child.I covered my mouth in an empathetic cry. I now saw a woman, wailing louder than the rest, supported by several others, several steps behind the stretcher bearers. She was clearly a family member, barely able to walk in her grief. Behind her was a huge crowd of more villagers, every face white with grief and compassion.Jesus was walking purposefully towards the woman, Peter trailing behind him a few steps. The rest of us paused where we were half off the road, watching attentively to the moving figure of Jesus.
The wailing women suddenly quieted as he held out his hand and spoke in a loud voice, so even those in the crowd behind us surely heard. The procession stopped walking completely, except for the stretcher bearers. Every face looked at Jesus. Some eyes widened in shocked, some annoyed, some curious or confused. The woman lifted her tear-stained cheeks, hands trembling as she gripped those of the others around her. She was young and wore the colors of both mourning and widowhood.
Jesus was still walking towards her. Peter had stopped now and glanced back over his shoulder at the rest of us, a small smile tickling his bearded lips. Suddenly Jesus stopped right beside the stretcher, still looking at the woman, and then he reached out and touched the shrouded body of the child. The men carrrying the stretcher stopped, faces shocked. It was forbidden to touch the dead. A horrified gasp swept through both crowds of people.
I gripped John’s arm, “ Why would he do that?”
“Sshhh, watch,” he said, pointing back at Jesus.
Jesus was speaking again, “Young man, I say to you, arise!”
A puff of wind blew dust around our feet and every voice quieted. I’m not even sure most of us were breathing. And then suddenly someone screamed, as the small child’s body moved, first his arm, then his leg. Then the cloth covering his face fell away, revealing dark curly hair and blinking eyes looking at the sky. Everyone began murmuring excitedly and exclaiming loudly. I looked around seeing the horrified glares of the rabbis, the awe-struck wonder of the other children and the soft faces of joy and relief from the other mothers.
Then the boy sat up, looking straight at Jesus, a smile stretching across his young lips. He said something quiet and soft, that I could not hear.
But Jesus did and he laughed, reaching up to lift the boy off the stretcher and cradled him in his arms. I felt my lips tremble and my eyes burn wet as the child’s brown eyes met my own over Jesus’s shoulder. The boy then wrapped his thin arms around Jesus’s neck and turned around searching for his mother.
Vibrant, alive and beautiful.
The boy’s mother had fallen to her knees, weeping uncontrollably as Jesus approached her, kneeling to place the child in her arms. Jesus spoke to her, but none of us could hear now, as she pulled her child close, covering his face with kisses as she loudly gave her gratitude and thanks to Jesus.The mourners began crowding around them, voices that had only been just weeping, loudly crying in joy and wonder. Jesus, the widow and her son were soon hidden from view by a wall of black.
The stretchers bearers had lowered their now empty burden, lined faces perplexed and confused, as they stood motionless staring.
The crowd behind where I stood with the disciples grew deafeningly loud, a mingled array of emotions, so many faces from old to young, their faces reflecting shock or joy, fear and awe. Others ran to join the growing celebration around Jesus. Peter, Andrew and many of the disciples rushed forward, protectively standing close to Jesus.
“A great prophet has arisen among us!” Someone screamed, arms raised towards the sky.
James and John rushed forward as well and I followed, heart pounding. A dead boy had just come back to life. We had seen so many miracles, but not the dead raised to life yet. How was this possible?
Somewhere music on a lyre began to rise and children started dancing. And above it all I heard Jesus laughing. I couldn’t see him, but I could imagine him. Face thrown back, dark eyes full and chest shaking in mirth. The sound shook a deep resounding hope in my spirit.
John leaned down to whisper in my ear, “ God has visited his people.”
“Indeed,” I whispered back, following close behind the young man as we made our way to our rabbi’s side.
Natasha is a short story writer who has been blogging for the past decade. She is currently raising four kids in the midwest United States and married to her wonderful husband of 10 years. They both work with YWAM and media missions.