Summary: In today's lesson we learn about Jesus' compassion, his power over death, and the response he inspires.
Let’s read about Jesus raising a widow’s son in Luke 7:11-17:
11 Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. (Luke 7:11-17)
There are a number of instances recorded in Scripture of children dying. There is understandable grief associated with the death of children. The Egyptians grieved the death of their firstborn children (Exodus 12:29-30), the parents of Bethlehem grieved the death of their sons younger than two years old when Herod killed them after the birth of Jesus (Matthew 2:16-18), the widow of Zarephath grieved the death of her son (1 Kings 17:17-18), and the Shunammite grieved the death of her son (2 Kings 4:18-37). And who can ever forget David’s grief over the death of Absalom, when he cried, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33)? Is this not the heartbreaking sentiment of every parent when a child dies?
The great 19th century theologian R. L. Dabney (1820-1898) was away on ministry when he learned that his beloved young son had come down with a serious illness. Dabney traveled all night to reach his son as quickly as possible. This is what happened next, as he wrote in a letter to his brother:
We used prompt measures, and sent early for the doctor, who did not think his case was dangerous; but he grew gradually worse until Sunday, when his symptoms became alarming, and he passed away, after great sufferings, Monday. . . . A half hour before he died, he sank into a sleep, which became more and more quiet, until he gently sighed his soul away. This is the first death we have had in our family, and my first experience of any great sorrow. I have learned rapidly in the school of anguish this week, and am many years older than I was a few days ago. It was not so much that I could not give my darling up, but that I saw him suffer such pangs, and then fall under the grasp of the cruel destroyer, while I was impotent for his help. Ah! When the mighty wings of the angel of death nestle over your heart’s treasures, and his black shadow broods over your home, it shakes the heart with a shuddering terror and a horror of great darkness. To see my dear little one ravaged, crushed and destroyed, turning his beautiful liquid eyes to me and his weeping mother for help, after his gentle voice could no longer be heard, and to feel myself as helpless to give any aid – this tears my heart with anguish.
Some of you know that anguish. You have lost a child. Or an infant. Or a preborn child. All of us know someone who has died. The question we ask is: Does God provide any comfort for grieving people? And, is there any hope beyond the grave?
Luke answers these questions when he tells us what Jesus did for a grieving mother who lost her only son, and we learn about Jesus’ compassion, his power over death, and the response he inspires.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. The Setting of the Miracle (7:11-12)
2. The Compassion of Jesus (7:13)
3. The Power of Jesus (7:14-15)
4. The Response of the People (7:16-17)
I. The Setting of the Miracle (7:11-12)
First, let’s look at the setting of the miracle.
The base of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee and his adopted hometown was the city of Capernaum (Matthew 4:13). Jesus healed a centurion’s son in Capernaum (Luke 7:1-10), and soon afterward he went to a town called Nain (7:11a).
This is the only place in the entire Bible that mentions Nain. It was about twenty-five south of Capernaum.