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.
“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. There is much wisdom in this expression. It no doubt grew out of an observation of those who have power. Well meaning people get into a position of power, whether political, corporate or yes, even ecclesiastical, and it goes to their heads and they begin to think that they deserve to be in charge and throw their authority around and ruin everyone who has the misfortune to be under them. It happens all the time. We are seeing the results of it in Egypt right now. God, by definition, has absolute power. But it does not corrupt Him. We get corrupted by power because we are at heart sinful. God is holy. The best form of government would be a benevolent dictatorship and God is both powerful and benevolent. And we can do no better than to live our lives under His loving authority.
In the text before us we encounter both power and compassion. Jesus has the power over life and death. He is able to raise the dead. But will He? Why should He? He certainly did not interrupt every funeral He encountered. The text tells us plainly that in this case He did. Verse 13 – And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her. Jesus raised the woman’s son because He had compassion on her. She has lost her only son. She is now alone; she has no means of income or support; Jesus sees her and is moved with compassion for her. And the compassion moves Him to use the power that is His for the benefit of this woman. It is the perfect combination.
Power and compassion. Many of us have compassion but are powerless to do the good that we wish we could do. Many people have power but they do not use it for compassionate purposes. Jesus has both.
This raises the whole issue of why an all powerful God would allow the suffering that marks this world to continue. The unbelieving will quip that if God is loving then He cannot be all powerful or else He would, out of that love, end the suffering of the world. If He is all powerful then He cannot be loving because He does not use His power to compassionately end the suffering in the world. The text before us points out that Jesus is both powerful and loving. People may still ask why God does not use His power to end suffering, but even when Jesus was here He did not fix up everybody.
We do not sit in judgement on the almighty. He is God and we are not. He has told us to make the world a better place, so we need to be careful of just what evil we charge God with. God is all wise and He knows what He is doing. This account in Luke’s Gospel tells us that Jesus is both powerful and compassionate. He refuses none who come to Him. He does not always heal or resurrect or put an end to trouble. But He has done all that can be done to ultimately defeat evil and put it to death. He did it on the cross. And the Scriptures are clear that when Jesus returns evil be put to death once and for all.
In the meantime we are to be the feet and hands of Jesus in a world that desperately needs a little compassion. Before we start levying guilt upon God we need to ask ourselves just how compassionate and loving we are – for He has given us the job of being His hands and feet in this very needy world. We can take a loving, compassionate all powerful God to a world that needs to hear about Him. Let`s make sure we do.