Summary: The story of the raising from the dead of the Widow of Nain’s son gives us hope that with Jesus nothing is impossible
The Raising of the Widow of Nain’s Son
Maddy and I moved to Frisby from New Romney at the end of 2007
Story: As we were taking the bedroom apart, I was surprised to find a small basket underneath our bed with three eggs and £1000.
I was a bit puzzled and so I called Maddy and asked her what this was all about.
She said: “Well I have to be honest with you. Every time you preached a bad sermon, I put an egg in the basket.”
I thought – well three bad sermons in 3 years – not bad going.
But I was still puzzled – “Well, what is the £1000 about”
She replied, as all good wives do: “Every time I got a dozen, I sold them”.
Today’s Gospel reading isn’t a very easy passage to speak on.
It might be an “egg sermon” but I do pray that it will be an encouragement to you all
I think the key to understanding why Luke included this story in his Gospel can be found in the final passage of Lk 7 - Luke 7:18 35
John the Baptist has held in prison by King Herod for a long time and is beginning to lose his faith
So he sends some of his followers to ask Jesus if he really is the Messiah.
And Jesus responds in Lk 7:22 by saying
“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the Good News is preached to the poor”
Strange response, isn’t it?
Why didn’t Jesus simply say “yes”
I think there are two answers
1. Jesus wants us to look at the evidence to come to our OWN conclusions
2. Secondly, the term “Messiah” was a highly charged term at the beginning of the third Decade of the First Century AD.
The Jews were expecting a political Messiah - someone who would free them from the oppression of a foreign ruler.
Someone like Judas Maccabeus, who in 167 BC threw the invaders from Syria out - the Seleucid king Antiochus IV (Epiphanes).
Galilee in Jesus’ day had become the “Helmand province” of the Roman Empire.
Messiahs sprang up left right and centre – two are recorded in Acts when Gamaliel says:
“36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing.
37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.
The Jews wanted to use force to throw the Romans out - THAT was the type of Messiah they were expecting
But Jesus wasn’t the all conquering hero that the Jews were expecting – similar to Judas Maccabeus who had chased the occupying powers out in BC 167
He came with great humility, doing good works and bringing sound and sensible teaching, thereby confirming his authority to preach the “Good News”.
There are three recorded instances of Jesus raising people to life on the pages of the New Testament.
And in each of these miracles, the people in attendance are touched by the presence and power of Jesus Christ.
1. Jairus’ daughter (Mk 5:21-43)
The first of these miraculous raisings from the dead is described in Mark 5
It takes place at the home of Jairus, a synagogue ruler whose 12 year old daughter has just died.
Everyone is crying. Everyone is upset.
When Jesus comes he sends everyone out of the room except for Peter, James, and John.
He then takes the girl by the hand and says
LITTLE GIRL, I SAY TO YOU, GET UP!”
Immediately, the girl sits up and everyone praises God
2. The Raising of Lazarus
The second and most famous miraculous raising from the dead can be found in John chapter 11.
Lazarus has been buried in his tomb for four days and has started to decompose.
But Jesus steps forward and says, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
And then Jesus says “Lazarus, come forth!
And immediately, Lazarus rises from the grave.
3. The son of the widow of Nain
And the last miraculous raising from the dead can be found in the funeral of our Gospel reading this morning.
The story of the raising to life of the Widow of Nain’s son.
It is a story outside my experience because I have never seen any one raised from the dead