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The Widow’s Son at Nain

“…The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.”  (John 10:25)

Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. 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.  (Luke 7:11-17)

While wandering around the grounds of a state fair recently, I came upon a small tent decorated with blinking lights where an old man was speaking into a microphone: “Five dollars…for just five dollars you can see the most rare and amazing sight in all of nature…a two-headed turtle.”  

I doubt that many people came from far and wide to see that turtle.

…the eternal Son of God did not enter the human race to be a sideshow. 

When people heard about the truly amazing things done by Jesus of Nazareth, they came from far and wide to see Him. But Jesus didn’t call upon His disciples to set up a tent; neither did they prepare miracle-worker signs in hopes of drawing crowds. After all, the eternal Son of God did not enter the human race to be a sideshow. He came to redeem sinful humankind.

Jesus performed miracles both publicly and privately. Those miraculous deeds were not intended to convert those who witnessed them but rather to bear witness to Christ’s divine Person and Word.

This particular miracle is recorded only in the Gospel of Luke.
As Jesus and His disciples approached the city of Nain with a large crowd in tow, they met another multitude making its way out of the city—the funeral procession of a young man, the only son of a widow.

There is no evidence that this widow had ever seen Jesus or even knew anything about Him. Nothing is said about her faith or about the faith of anyone in the procession. We are simply told that Jesus saw the widow and had compassion on her.

Neither the widow nor her deceased son merited this intervention by the Christ. This miracle would happen because Jesus had compassion on the widow and her son.

In fact, Jesus controlled the entire encounter; He urged the widow to stop weeping; He stopped the funeral procession by touching the coffin; He spoke to the corpse, urging the young son to rise up.

Who can speak to a corpse and get results? Jesus, the Son of God, can!

The no-longer-dead man was the next to speak, though what he said is not revealed. Then it is reported that Jesus simply presented the revived youth to his mother. We aren’t told her reaction, but she most likely reacted with amazement and great joy.

How did this miracle affect those who saw it? The Spirit of God tells us that “fear came upon all.” Although everyone was impressed, it seems that there were two different reactions to the miracle. On the one hand, some concluded that Jesus was a great prophet raised up by God. On the other hand, others saw the miracle as evidence that God had “visited His people.”

This miracle confirmed that Jesus is the Son of God. It also shows vividly that Jesus came to have compassion on all sinners, both on those who have already heard His Word and on those yet to hear it.

This miracle also serves to comfort us in the face of death. Jesus has the power to raise the dead. He promised before His own death and resurrection that because He lives, we will live also (see John 14:19). The same Jesus who spoke to a dead man outside the city of Nain will one day call you and me forth from our graves.

When we are raised, however, we will not resume living in this sinful world; instead, we will be raised and glorified forever with the Lord! Hallelujah!