Have you ever reached the point where you felt you’d lost it all, where everything and everyone you’d loved was gone, and you had nothing to live for anymore? Were you so consumed with grief that you didn’t even bother to ask for help because you assumed the situation was helpless? If so, you can find comfort in the story of today’s woman, the Widow of Nain.
Only one gospel writer includes the Widow of Nain’s story. Luke tells us in chapter 7 verse 11 that Jesus, many of His disciples, and a large crowd went to the city of Nain. They’d just come from Capernaum where Jesus had healed the servant of a centurion.
The centurion was an important man of the city. He was a career military man who oversaw a hundred soldiers. We also learn that he was instrumental in building the Jews a synagogue. But it’s not him who was sick. It was his servant. Nonetheless, the centurion cared deeply for his servant, and when he heard Jesus was in town, he begged Jesus to heal him, which Jesus did.
The next day Jesus, His disciples, and a growing crowd of followers head to Nain. The healing that happens there is a complete contrast to the previous day’s healing.
As they arrive near the city gate, they meet up with a funeral procession leaving the city and heading to the burial grounds. The deceased is the only son of a widow woman. A large crowd is with her.
Jesus sees her, feels compassion for her, and tells her not to cry.
Everyone stops in their tracks as they watch Jesus walk over to the open coffin and touches it. They all know He’s a religious leader. Religious leaders stay away from the dead for fear of becoming unclean. So what is He doing?
He calls out in a clear voice, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”
And what happens?
The dead man sits up and begins to speak. Jesus presents the resurrected man to his mother and continues on His way.
Verses 16-17 tells us, “Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen up among us’; and, ‘God has visited His people. And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.”
The Rest of the Story
Jesus was on an evangelistic journey to reach Galilea. It was no accident that He happened to be entering the town at the exact moment that the funeral procession was leaving. He knew this woman needed Him to come to her. Unlike the centurion’s servant, she didn’t have anyone to go to Jesus and plead her case. Even if she had, it’s unlikely she would have thought to do so. Her son was dead. It was too late for anyone to do anything.
This woman was at her depths. She’d already lost her husband. Now, she’d lost her only son. She was alone and lonely with no one to care for her in her remaining days. It was a frightening situation to be in, and Jesus knew this. Luke tells us that Jesus had compassion on her.
Imagine her surprise when He told her not to cry. What an odd thing to say to a grieving mother at a funeral. Of course, she was crying! We’d be a little concerned if she wasn’t upset.
But Jesus didn’t stop there. He went over to the coffin where her dead son rested.
And then, to the surprise of all those watching, He brought a dead man back to life. By this time Jesus had performed many miracles, but this was His first resurrection. The crowds had heard of prophets of old bringing the dead to life, but none of these people had ever witnessed such a thing. They knew then that He was a Great Prophet. Word of what He’d done spread throughout the land.
Don’t you love how Jesus chose the recipients of His miracles? The day before, He healed the centurion’s servant. For His first resurrection, He chose the only son of an obscure widow woman. These were not individuals deemed valuable by the world at large, but Jesus saw them as valued souls in need of saving.
Each of these were two-fold miracles. Not only was the servant healed, but the centurion’s life was changed as well. The only son may have been the one brought back to life, but the widowed mother was the one who truly received the miracle.
Then there was the impact of those who witnessed the miracles. If you recall, Jesus had not only his disciples with Him, but a large crowd of followers. And the widow was not alone at the funeral. She had a large crowd from the city. Each of these crowd members witnessed this miracle. They went on to tell others what they experienced.
Chances are, at some point you’ve felt like that Widow of Nain. You’ve lost loved ones. Perhaps you’ve even lost a child. During those times of loss and bereavement, it’s easy to feel alone. We just have to remember, whatever’s happened, whatever is going on, you’re not alone.
The widow, though she’d lost her husband and son, was not alone. She had a crowd of friends with her, showing their support for her during this difficult time. There’s a good chance she gave them no thought, hardly noticing their presence so consumed she was in her grief. But they were there nonetheless.
You, too, have people like that, quietly sitting on the sidelines ready to be there for you when you need them. You may not even be aware of them. It could be a dear grandmother alone in a nursing home who prays daily for you. It could be random strangers who see the tears that fall when you think no one’s looking, and they pray for you though they don’t even know your name. It could be family or friends you’ve rejected but who have remained faithful in their love and concern for you, praying for you even when you’ve abandoned them, ready to come to your side when you’re ready. You just have to look up from your grief and take notice of the blessings surrounding you.
And then there’s Jesus. He knows your hurts better than anyone, and in your time of need, He feels compassion for you. You may think it’s too late, but just as Jesus was not too late for the Widow of Nain, He’s not too late to work His miracle in your life. It may not be the miracle you expect, but know that His timing is best, His ways are better than ours He only wants what is best for you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Lord God, thank You for Your neverending kindness and compassion. Thank You for seeing the invisible and for seeing needs that no one else recognizes. Thank You for loving us enough to restore life when we think all hope is dead. Forgive us those times we get so caught up in our grief that we fail to notice the blessings surrounding us. Open our eyes to those faithful family and friends who surround us. Cover us in Your love. Wrap Your arms around us, reminding us how truly blessed we are. We love You. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tune in next week when we look at another woman from Nain, this time a sinful woman who caught a pharisee off guard.
Backstory: Luke 7:1-10
Her story: Luke 7:11-18
Bible Study Review
- Where did Jesus meet the Widow of Nain?
- Who was with him at the time?
- What did the young man do when he came to life?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Why was Jesus in Nain?
- Why did He touch the casket?
- What might the young man have said when he came back to life?
- Have you ever been at a place of loss like the Widow of Nain?
- When has God reached out to you when you were too upset to reach out to Him?
- Are you telling people what you’ve seen Jesus do?
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