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* And when Jesus walks through the city of Jericho it’s obvious that He was looking for that tax collector Zacchaeus to be in the crowd. He even called him by name and told him to come down from the tree, because Jesus was going to his house that day. I believe Jesus was there just for that sinful man.
I believe there are many of the Bible stories where Jesus had planned to meet certain people for certain reasons. But this story about the widow of Nain doesn’t seem to be one of those kinds of stories. It just doesn’t feel like a deliberate encounter. The phrase Luke uses to describe Jesus’ reaction to this widow’s grief to be spontaneous and heart felt. Luke 7:13 says “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her…”
The word used in the Greek here is one of the most intense that could be used for this emotion. The KJV says “He had compassion on her”. But even that phrase doesn’t quite capture the depth of Jesus’ feelings at this point. I believe the translation called “The Message” actually says it best when it says “When Jesus saw her, his heart broke.”
Jesus literally HURT for this woman.
He was touched in the very depths of his heart by her tears.
But what was it about this woman that would have moved Jesus in such a powerful way?
Well, she’d just lost her son.
Her ONLY son.
That would be tragedy enough for any woman, but Luke makes a point of telling us this wasn’t the only sadness she’d experienced. Verse 12 tells us “… a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow….” Luke 7:12
She’d lost her ONLY son… AND she was a widow…
She’d had lost both her son AND her husband.
Emotionally that must have been devastating.
Her tears were the tears of woman who’d been beaten down by the specter of death
And making matters even worse – in the culture of that day, this woman was destitute. She had no visible means of support. The breadwinners of her life (husband and son) were both gone, and she was going to be left to fend for herself.
And there’s one more clue to the kind of woman this mother was. Notice who is at the funeral with her.
“…a LARGE CROWD from the town was with her.” Luke 7:12
In that day, it was not uncommon for rich people to hire mourners for a funeral of a loved one. But this woman is not rich. She can’t afford to hire people to show up for her son’s burial.
But a LARGE crowd shows up anyway.
What’s in it for them?
Nothing… except they appear to care for this woman.
She matters to them.
They don’t like seeing her suffer, and they want to be there for her.
In the book of Acts, we’re told of a Christian named Tabitha (also called Dorcas).
She got sick – and died. But she had ministered to so many others in that community that some of the disciples sent for Peter to come to her home, perhaps hoping against hope that Peter might be able to raise the dead as his master had.
Acts 9:39-40 tells us “Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.”
I’m thinking that this widow at Nain was
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