Summary: The Widow of Nain. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: Luke chapter 7 verses 11-17.


• A Mother was taking her four-year-old daughter to school,

• She was a doctor and had left her stethoscope on the car seat,

• Her little girl picked it up;

• And very exited began to play with it.

• Excellent, thought the Doctor,

• My daughter wants to follow in my footsteps!

• Then the child spoke into the instrument:

• “Hello and welcome to McDonald’s may I take you order?”

All parents have high hopes for their children:

• The Mother in our reading this morning,

• Saw those hoped shattered, by the premature death of her son.


A speaker held up a £50 note.

• He asked, “Who would like this £50 note?”

• Immediately hands started going up.

• He said, “I am going to give this £50 note to one of you but first, let me do this.”

• He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up.

• He then asked, “Who still wants it?”

• Still the hands were up in the air.

• “Well”, he replied, “What if I do this?”

• And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe.

• He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty.

• He asked: “Now who still wants it?”

Still the hands went into the air.

“My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth £50.”

Here was a widow:

• Who had been dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt,

• By the circumstances of life.

• And to many she was a no-body,

• An insignificant person, in an unimportant place.

• But to God she had a value;

• And Luke in his gospel often records for us,

• Incidents like this one,

• Which have to do with the lowly, the outcast & those that society doesn’t seem to value!

Four special meetings took place on that day.

(1). Two crowds meet.

First crowd verse 11:

“Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him “.

Second crowd verse 12:

“As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.”

What a Contrast:

• Between the crowd that was following Jesus,

• And the crowd that was following the widow and her dead son.


• Jesus and His disciples were rejoicing in the blessing of the Lord,

• But the widow and her friends were lamenting the death of her only son.


• Jesus was heading for the city,

• While the mourners were heading for the cemetery.

In fact:

• Even to this day, ten minutes walk from Nain on the road to Endor,

• There is a cemetery of rock tombs in which the dead are laid.

• The widow in our passage, never made it there:

• For she was halted, then turned completely around by her encounter with Jesus.

Now the Jewish custom at this time was to bury their dead on the same day;

• So it is likely that Jesus and His disciples arrived at the city gate,

• Late In the afternoon, on the very same day the boy died.

• The widow, the corpse & the mourners had to come out of the city,

• Because no burial was ever allowed inside a Jewish city.

Two crowds meet:

(1). The widows crowd:

• The funeral procession would have been headed by a group of professional mourners:

• Quote: Jewish writings (Ketuboth chapter 4 verse 4):

“Even the poorest in Israel should hire not less than two flutes and one wailing woman

• These folks would have been hired, paid to be there, they were funeral experts;

• They would turn up with their clothes torn,

• Playing flutes and cymbals,

• Their voices making a frenzy of shrills & cries of grief.


Funerals are rarely happy occasions

• I did hear about the gifted public speaker,

• Who was asked to recall his most difficult speaking assignment. He said,

"That's easy. It was an address I gave to the National Conference of Undertakers.

The topic they gave me was 'How to Look Sad at a Ten Thousand Dollar Funeral.'"

• Well for most of us; funerals are sad occasions,

• And in the ancient near east, you paid professional mourners to help express your grief!

(2). Jesus and his crowd of followers.

• Jesus would have had his 12 disciples with him,

• Plus other people who were his genuine followers (e.g. Luke chapter 8 verse 2)

“…… some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others.

These women were helping to support them out of their own means”.

• He also attracted a large assortment of hangers-on.

• Those who came for a show, who wanted to see the miraculous happening,

• This crowd would have a buzz of excitement,

• A kind of carnival atmosphere surrounding it.

Luke pictures for us:

• A procession of joyous life,

• Meeting a procession of grieving death on the edge of nowhere.

As the two groups meet:

• Jesus, his disciples and the crowd who accompanied him;

• Doubtless stood back respectfully to allow the funeral procession to pass.

• Part of that funeral crowd was a solitary mourner.

• She needed not so much courtesy, but compassion.

• In a crowd of people,

• Jesus was aware of this lonely woman’s situation.

Pause to say: The incident is rich with imagery (picture language):

• These is a spiritual parallel to this earthly situation.

• Spiritually speaking, each of us is in one of these two crowds:

• If you have trusted Christ, a committed Christian,

• You are alive and going with him to the heavenly city (Heb. 11:10, 13-16; 12:22).

• If you are not yet a Christian then you are “dead in sin,”

• And on the way to the eternal cemetery (Eph. 2:1-3;Jolm 3:36).


“Jesus did not die to make bad people good!

He died to make dead people live!”

(2). Two only sons meet.

Quote Warren Wiersbe:

“One alive but destined to die, the other dead but destined to live “.

(1). The Widows Son. (Feel the heart ache in these verses):

“The ONLY son of his mother, AND she was a widow “.

Sons were important in New Testament times:

• They were the life blood of the family;

• It was there responsibility to perpetuate the family line (name alive).

• They were the wage earners,

• The ones who protected and provided for the family).


Still true today in third world countries.

Now with here only son dead:

• What would happen to the mother?

• She was now left alone in a society that did not have resources to care for widows.

• There was no social services or home help or pension scheme,

• Who would provide for her?

The widow had pinned all her hopes in her only son:

• But he had failed to meet those expectations.

• He promised so much, but had delivered so little.

(2). The Fathers only son.

• Jesus was in every sense of the word was and is ‘unique’.

• Now don’t miss understand; he was fully human, like you and me.

(a). He had human names:

• Expression “Son of Man” occurs 80 times in the gospels.

• New testament refers to him again and again, calling him a “Man”.

(b). He had a human nature:

• He was born after a full term pregnancy (Luke 2:7).

• He grew to maturity & manhood (Luke 2:40).

• He got tired (John 4:6).

• He became thirsty (John 19:28).

• He slept (Mart 8:24).

• He loved (Mark 10:21).

• He had compassion (Mart 9:36).

• He was angry (John 2:12-25).

• He cried (John 11:35).

• He died (Mart 27:50).

(c). He possessed a human body.

• Ill: John 1 verses 14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”

• Quote “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see….incarnate deity”.

But unlike you and me:

• Jesus existed before his conception and birth.

• He is the eternal Son of God, he has always existed.


“In heaven he had no mother, on earth he had no father”.


• 17 fish all called Eric,

• How to stop them fighting.


• Bob Telford & OAP Home.

• He only had one and he gave him up for you and me!!!

(3). Two sufferers met.


A young New Yorker named Glenn Chambers,

• Had a lifelong dream to work for God in Ecuador.

• At the airport on the day of departure,

• He wanted to send a note to his mother but he didn’t have time to buy a card.

• He noticed a piece of paper on the terminal floor and picked it up.

• It turned out to be an advertisement,

• With the words “Why?” spread across it.

• He scribbled his note around the word “Why?”

• That night his aeroplane exploded into the 14,000 foot Colombian peak El Tablazo.

• When his mother received the note after the news of his death,

• The question that burned up at her from the page was, “Why?”

There are few experiences that are more distressing to the human heart than loss.

• Ill: Ring with great sentimental value.

• Ill: Pet animal we can still feel heart broken.

• When it is a person, some one we love, it is a tragedy:

• Our sense of emotional devastation can be almost unendurable.

(1). A woman sorrowing:

• Who was broken hearted over the loss of her son.

• She was now all alone in the world, with no-other family to comfort her.

• She is without a male protector and provider,

• Which no-doubt led to feelings of fear, how will she survive financially in the future.

• There were few openings for women to earn a living in the first centaury.

• It seems all hope had gone!


“We can live 40 or 50 days without food.

We can live 8 or perhaps 9 days without water.

And before brain damage we can live about 4 minutes without air.

But we can only live a few seconds without hope “.


• The compassion of Jesus (verse 13):

• “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don‘t cry”.

• There is no stronger word in the Greek language for sympathy.

• Than the word Jesus uses hear translated as “his heart went out”.

• Now this was not a time for words, but for action.

• So Jesus restricted himself to just a couple of words,

• And Jesus, “the Man of Sorrows,”

• Easily identify with the widow’s heartache.

(2). Jesus the man of sorrows.

Quote: Isaiah chapter 53 verse 3:

“He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering

Like one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not “.

In the first 3 verses of Isaiah 53:

• We have described a situation of suffering and misunderstanding.

• The suffering is primarily physical.

• The servant is disfigured, so ugly that he is hardly recognizable as a human being.

• But his sufferings are symbolic of all human suffering.


• An artist is best known through his works,

• The soul of a painter is seen in his paintings.

• The heart of a singer is heard through his songs.

• Suffering is a mirror in which may be seen the reflection of Jesus.


If it was up to us to give Jesus a title:

• We would probably choose something like ‘Man of holiness’,

• Because, he was without sin.

• We might have called him a ‘Man of eloquence’;

• Because no-one ever spoke like this man.

• We might have called him a ‘Man of love’;

• Love never shone out of any life, as it did out of the life of Jesus.

• Now here is an incredible thing:

• God has called him “A man of sorrows familiar with suffering“.

That expression “Familiar with suffering” is a phrase you could write all over the life of Jesus:

• Born in poverty,

• i.e. forced to sheltering in someone else’s stable.

• Then forced to flee his home-land,

• (Matthew chapter 2 verse 13 – a refuge family in Egypt for a few years).

• Tradition (not Bible) tells us Joseph (step-father) died while he was still a teenager.

• As the eldest son, that meant an extra weight of responsibility on his shoulders.

• He was rejected by his own people (John chapter 1 verse 11).

• “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”

• Rejected by his own family (Mark chapter 2 verse 21).

• “He is out of his mind”.

• Pressured by the religious establishment., poisoned by misunderstanding his mission.

• As they constantly criticized him and sought to trap him and eventually kill him.

• Brokenhearted over his people (Matthew 23:37)

• “0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”

• Classic incident in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mart 26:37).

• Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

• Betrayed by a friend - Judas.

• Forsaken by his disciples.

• Tortured by the Romans,

• Falsely accused and tried in illegal and biased courts.

• Reject of God (Matthew 27 verse 46).

• “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Surely this is the deepest sorrow of the all:

• Because this sorrow did not come from men but from God,

• Not from without but from within.

• For it was the hand of a holy God that bruised him,

• And it was the iron rod of heavens justice that broke him.

• Isaiah 53 verse 10: “Yet it was the LORDS ‘Will to crush him and cause him to suffer”

Jesus was the “the Man of Sorrows,”

Familiar with suffering

Who could easily identify with the widow’s heartache.


• Death is an enemy to every human being,

• It robs us of our life and separates us from our loved ones.

• In contrast Jesus is the ‘the life giver’. The one who said; ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.

• He is the enemy of death and separation.

Verse 14:

• Jesus went up and touched the coffin; causing the procession came to a halt.

• He then spoke some words:

• That if you or I said them;

• Would make us insensitive to the situation or even a laughing stock.

• Verse 14:

• “He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!””

Don’t miss the drama of this next moment:

• We read these verses as if these things happen every day!

• This is an incredible incident that is about to take place.

“Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still.

He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up“.


When you read the word coffin:

• Don’t think of a wooden box, like most if not all of us will be buried in.

• This would have been an open coffin, often they were long wicker-work baskets,

Jesus had only to speak the word and the boy was raised to life and health.

• Imagine the amazement of the mourners,

• Talk about the hairs standing up on the back of your neck.

• They were astonished,

• This was an incredible moment!


“Jesus claimed as his own what death had seized as his prey “.


• The boy gave two evidences of life (verse 15):

• (1).He sat up. (2). He spoke.

• Because he was lying on an open stretcher, it was of course easy for him to sit up.

• Luke who was a doctor by profession:

• Actually uses a medical technical term in the Greek text,

• The word for “sitting up” actually means; a patient “sitting up in bed”.

Verse 15:

• Is an act of tenderness.

• Jesus gave the son back to his mother.

The crowd react in two WAYS (VERSE 16-12):

“They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us, they said. “God has come to help his people”. This news about Jesus spread throughout

Judea and the surrounding country”

(1). “Awe”

• They had never seen anything like this and would probably never see it again.

• To use a modern expression, they were gob smacked.

(b). “Glorify God”.

• They are stunned at the authority of Jesus,

• He even has power over death.

Verse 16: “Great Prophet”.

• Might suggest the crowd thought Jesus was ‘The Prophet’

• The Prophet the Jews had been waiting for (Deut 18:15; John 1:21; Acts 3:22-23).

• Or it may mean Jesus is the greatest;

• Teacher, healer, prophet that they have ever encountered.

Verse 17:

• It did not take long for the report of this miracle to spread:

• People were more enthusiastic than ever to see Jesus,

• And great crowds followed Him (8:4, 19, 42).

• Word even reached John the Baptist in prison.

Again this story is so rich with imagery:

• For the widow her death sentence,

• Had been set aside by the authority of Christ.

• What was true for her physically,

• Is true for us spiritually.


• All of us are subject to the law of gravity.

• Newton discovered it, “What goes up must come down”.

• And the law of gravity holds us down.

• Now if you look in the air on your way home (careful if your driving)

• You will see birds actually denying the law of gravity,

• You will see planes defying the law of gravity

Question: Why?


• Because there is another law called the law of aerodynamics.

• And by adapting that law, birds can fly and men have been able to create aircraft,

Whenever a bird or the plane takes off, another law which comes into operation

• And the law of gravity is defeated,

• By the law of aerodynamics.

Do see what I’m trying to say, in connection with death & Jesus?

• The law of gravity; i.e. sin & death,

• Which has held captive every man, woman and child throughout history:

• Can now be broken by the law of aerodynamics,

• i.e. The eternal life which is ours through Jesus Christ.

Quote: 1 Corinthians chapter 15 verse 55:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, 0 death, is your victory?

Where, 0 death, is your sting?”


Bee sting.