We are continuing our series on the supernatural acts of the Lord Jesus while He walked this earth. Today we come to the raising from the dead of a widow’s son:
11Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out--the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry." 14Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" 15The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." 17This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country (Luke 7:11-17).
Widows and fatherless children have always been people God has given special care and compassion to. His heart goes out to them in their need. James, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus, wrote, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). It is a cruel world for unmarried mothers and their children. They are among the neediest in our society. God has a heart toward the defenseless of society, and His eye is always on them:
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling (Psalm 68:5).
Let's try and get a picture of the scene about the widow of the town of Nain. In verse 11, we see a large crowd following the disciples. Just as they were approaching the town gate of Nain, a funeral procession was coming out of the town. The widow did not ask for a miracle; Jesus performed it without any request from her. Author Ken Gire says, “It is a miracle done without human prompting. Without thought of lessons to be taught to the disciples. Without thought of deity to be demonstrated to the skeptics. It is a miracle drawn solely from the well of divine compassion. So free the water. So pure the heart from which it is drawn. So tender the hand that cups it and brings it to this bereaved mother’s lips.”
In some situations, God does not require faith before He moves supernaturally. He acts out of His compassion, grace, and mercy. This widow was helpless and alone in the world and without anyone to provide for her or protect her. She did nothing to earn or merit Jesus' attention, except to be one who was in need. We, like this widow, have done nothing to deserve God's favor. When we were still lost in our sin, Christ died for us and drew us to Himself.
Verse 13 says that “his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry." Luke uses the strongest Greek word possible here to describe Jesus’ pity. When translated, it refers to what is inside, the viscera (the heart, liver, lungs). It describes an emotion that has a physical effect, a gut-wrenching compassion. Jesus was not worried about being made ritually unclean as He stepped forward to touch the coffin (v. 14). People are what matters to Him. There is a higher law at work, the law of love and compassion.
He spoke with authority, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” In every account in the Gospels where Jesus went to a funeral, He raised the dead person. There was Lazarus in John 11, the centurion’s servant in Luke 7:1-10, and also Jairus, the ruler of the Synagogue, who had his daughter raised from the dead (Luke 8:40-56).
Awe filled those in attendance (v. 16-17), i.e., an astonishment at such a thing. There was an unusual presence of God that descended on them, an awe that God, indeed, was visiting His people. How could this be! This man was dead! Imagine the praise that went up as relatives and the mother herself received her son back from the dead. Imagine what pain there would be in losing your only son and then the joy of holding the one you had released to death. Then was spoken a beautiful word about Christ, “God has come to help His people!” (v. 16). We are most like our Lord when we can step into the shoes of those who are poor and hurting and minister God’s grace with hearts of compassion, longing to do what we can to alleviate their pain and need. Keith Thomas