By Donnie V. Rader
The day after Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant, he came into a city called Nain. A large crowd was traveling with Jesus. As he approached the city, he met a funeral procession. The dead was the only son of a widow. A large crowd was with the woman.
Jesus told the woman not to weep. He then touched the open coffin to signal those carrying it to stop. He told the dead man, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” He did, and Jesus presented him to his mother.
Luke is the only writer to record this story. It is one of the three recorded accounts of Jesus raising the dead. There were the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:21-43), Lazarus (John 11:38-44) and this case of the son of the widow of Nain.
When the witnesses to this miracle drew their conclusion, it was “God has visited his people” (v. 16). This was an affirmation of the power of God working in the raising the dead. Secondly, it affirms that God has shown favor and kindness to man. Let’s see what lessons we can learn from this story.
The Compassion of the Lord
This was a particularly sad situation. A woman has lost her son. She is a widow. She has been down this road before. But, this time she has no immediate family to comfort her. This was her only son.
When Jesus saw that, he was moved with compassion. He had pity on her. He suffered with this lonely widow. He put himself in her place to see how it felt. Jesus was often moved with compassion to heal the sick or feed the hungry (Matt. 14:14; 15:32; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 8:2).
The Lord shows that same compassion toward us. Having been in the form of a man he knows our trials and thus feels for us in our difficulties (Heb. 2:18). Our Lord is “very compassionate and merciful” (Jas. 5:11).
Likewise we ought to have compassion on others. Peter tells Christians to have compassion toward one another (1 Pet. 3:8). Jude informs us that compassion will push us to pull men from the fires of hell (Jude 22-23).
Jesus Comes to Help in Times of Sorrow
This was a funeral procession with a lot of weeping and mourning. What a sad day. The dead was a young man which makes the funeral even sadder.
During the procession, the young man’s mother experiences the extremes of sorrow and joy. She goes from, possibly, the lowest point of sorrow she has ever experienced (weeping as she carries her only son to the grave) to, probably, the highest point of joy (seeing her son alive). All of her life, joy and hope had been restored.
The thing that turned her from one point to the other was that Jesus came and helped in her deepest sorrow.
Jesus is there to help us in our sorrows. (1) He helps in time of need (Heb. 4:15). (2) His word comforts in times of sorrow like the death of a loved one (1 Thess. 4:18). (3) He asks that we cast our cares upon him (1 Pet. 5:7). (4) He gives us hope that there is a better life beyond (Rom. 8:19 ff; Rev. 7:17; 21:4). (5) He is our mediator (1 Tim. 2:5). (6) He makes intercession on our behalf (Heb. 7:15).
The Power of God
Jesus demonstrated that he had power over death. He defied the hadean realm. Jesus simple spoke, “Young man, I say to you, arise” and the dead rose up. What power!
Miracles like this serve to confirm that his claims are true (John 20:30-31). He claimed to be the Messiah (John 4:24-25) and the Son of God (John 9:35). The miracles say his claims are true.
If Jesus had the power to raise the dead from his coffin, he has the power to lift us from the death of sin (Eph. 2:3, 12). He has the power to lift us from the trials and tribulations we face as we serve him (2 Tim. 1:7-9). He has the power to call us forth from the grave in the end of time (John 5:28-29).
Reaction to the Power of Jesus
There was a large crowd with Jesus and a large crowd with the widow that had come together and witnessed this resurrection. There are three reactions they manifested in seeing the power of Jesus.
1. They feared (v. 16). Fear came on all the people. You would fear too if the one whose funeral you were attending suddenly rose up and began to speak. While they may have been afraid, they, no doubt, stood in awe and respect of God’s power. We must fear God. We ought to be tremble at the thought of displeasing our Creator (Acts 13:40; Heb. 10:31; 12:29). And, at the same time we should have the awe and honor for God (Acts 10:34).
2. They glorified and praised God (v. 16). They said, “A great prophet has risen up among us,” and “God has visited his people.” When we see evidence of the power of God, we must give all glory and honor to God (Rev. 22:9).
3. They proclaimed God’s power (v. 17). The people not only told this story back within the walls of Nain, but throughout all Judea and the surrounding region. When we learn about the power of God, it behooves us to tell others what we have learned (2 Tim. 2:2).
Indeed, God has visited his people.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 13, p. 5
July 7, 1994