Growing weary from the long journey, Jesus trudged up the rocky path toward the little village of Nain. The disciples with Jesus were hoping for a long drink of cool water, a quiet meal, and a restful night’s sleep. Their arrival was not quiet. Rest would come later.
As they approached the city gate, a funeral procession was exiting, winding its way toward the cemetery. Peter, James, and John could easily discern the story. A lonely widow, shrouded by her vail, was walking beside her son’s open casket. The picture was worth a thousand words.
The widow walked alone. There wasn’t a husband’s strong shoulder to lean on… or to weep on. There wasn’t another son or daughter to console her. The broken-hearted widow was utterly, painfully, alone.
In the first century, a widow couldn’t expect to receive her dearly-departed husband’s pension check. The Social Security Administration wouldn’t issue a monthly check. A widow was solely dependent upon her family. Without her “only son” (Luke 7:12), the widow would be destitute. She would become a beggar or be forced to indenture herself, to become a slave, probably to a cruel and insensitive master. Without a protector, she worried about being mistreated, beaten, or raped. Her future was depressingly bleak!
The omniscient and omnipotent Jesus changes everything. “When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her” (Luke 7:13). Jesus had “compassion” for Blind Bartimaeus (Matthew 20:34). He had “compassion” for the father and his epileptic son (Mark 9:22). “When (Jesus) saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Divine compassion flowing through Jesus moved Him to gracious and merciful action.
“Don’t weep!” (Luke 7:13). The gently but commanding words of Jesus startled the woman. She had every right to weep! Who was this stranger?
Everyone following the casket stood stone-still. Their mouths gaped open as they watched the traveler step to the side of the boy’s stretcher. “Then he came up and touched the open coffin, and the pallbearers stopped” (Luke 7:14). “Did the Rabbi touch the dead body? Did he defile himself?” They couldn’t believe their eyes. A Jew who dared to touch the dead was rendered unclean, unfit for worship, and excluded from the temple.
“Young man, I tell you, get up!” (Luke 7:14). Who talks to a dead man? Who would command the dead to rise? Jesus raised a twelve-year-old girl, the daughter of the religious leader, Jairus. Jesus also raised Lazarus, dead for four days, buried, and decaying. “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43). He did. Alive!
“ ‘Young man, I tell you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother” (Luke 7:14-15).When Jesus reached into the open casket and touched the dead boy, he wasn’t rendered unclean. No! The moment that Jesus touched the boy’s lifeless flesh, his heart began to beat again. He wasn’t dead. He was alive! And his momma, still a widow, wasn’t alone!
The grace of Jesus changes everything! Thank you, Lord!