Soon afterwards He went to a city called Nain; and His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large crowd. Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!” This report concerning Him went out all over Judea and in all the surrounding district. (Luke 7:11-17, NRSV)
- - - - -
Nain still stands today, 2000 years after its mention in the Gospels; then and now, the very definition of a hamlet.
Located in northeast Israel just three miles south of Mount Tabor, the tiny village nestles itself into the surrounding rocky hills.
Within these hills are countless tombs, and the grieving crowd Luke writes of was most likely in route to these tombs to lay to rest the last person in the world this widow had - her son.
I’ve walked with friends through the loss of their child; to watch it crushed me with sorrow, but to live it, there are no words to do that pain justice.
But our widow here lived it. And lived it after already losing her husband. To be sure, her heartache had to be crippling, but there was a weighty implication to these deaths that had to rival the pain: she was a woman without status and now without anyone to provide for her.
From now on, to simply survive would only happen with provision from others.
Do you feel her misery? Do you feel her hopelessness? Can you hear the crowd’s collective agony as they escort this woman to the place where she will entomb her son?
But can you also hear joy?
Because colliding with the funeral is Jesus, His disciples, and a large crowd. Jesus and this mass of people are entering Nain at the same time as the funeral procession is leaving.
It is not ill timing that’s causing a funeral and a parade to intersect, it’s the merciful and providential will of a compassionate God.
This is a bustling time in Jesus’ earthly ministry; constant travel that the Kingdom of God might be proclaimed far and wide, and plenty of miracles to authenticate Jesus as the Christ. And this Worker of miracles has now intentionally placed Himself in Nain that a widow might be offered compassion.
It’s a perfect picture of our Jesus.
There was no supplication on the widow’s part. I see our widow as one so consumed with grief that she was oblivious to the oncoming parade and Jesus, yet He saw the hurt and extended compassion.
The Greek word used is splagchnizomai and means “filled with love and compassion.” It is most often attributed to Jesus and always results in action. He told her, “Do not weep,” and acted in response to her pain by raising her son from the dead and giving him back to her.
This is our Jesus: a Lord that pursues those of us who are hurting, a Lord that offers abounding compassion even if we’ve not requested it.
A fallen world offers plenty of opportunity for tears. So many of us have felt this kind of misery, this kind of hopelessness; so many of us have lived an agony so great that the joy of Jesus has been deafened and made oblivious to us.
Nonetheless, He’s there. Here.
He’s present with us while we shed tears, asking us not to weep because of the compassion He has on us. Let us receive it and see how He acts in response.
Please take some time to pray and journal a response to our compassionate Lord.
Ask for clarity - a perspective that takes notice of His entrance into a situation. One that recognizes and trusts that He is close to those hurting. And a perspective that hopes and anticipates for His compassion to be made full in action.
We hope that you have a blessed day! If you would like the full (and printed) version of our miracles study, find it at our online shop.
[guest writer: Cameo Boling]