Summary: Eleventh in a series on "The Miracles of Jesus."
The Miracles of Jesus
Miracle # 11
“Jesus Raises the Widow’s Son”
“Joseph Bayly knew what the loss of a child was like. In fact, he and his wife Mary Lou lost three sons – one at eighteen days, after surgery; another at five years, with leukemia: the third at eighteen years, after a sledding accident. So when Joe Bayly wrote about the death of a child people listened. Here is a part of what he had to say: Of all the deaths, that of a child is most unnatural and hardest to bear. In Carl Jung’s words, ‘it is the period placed before the end of the sentence,’ sometimes when the sentence has hardly begun. We expect the old to die. The separation is always difficult, but it comes as no surprise. But (what of) the child, the youth? Life lies ahead, with it’s beauty, its wonder, its potential. Death is a cruel thief when it strikes down the young. The suffering that usually precedes death is another reason childhood death is so hard for parents to bear. Children were made for fun and laughter, for sunshine, not pain….. In a way that is different from any other relationship, a child is bone of his parent’s bone, flesh of their flesh. When a child die, part of the parents is buried… I met a man who was in his seventies. During our first ten minutes together, he brought the faded photograph of a child out of his wallet – his child, who had died almost fifty years before.” [As quoted by R. Kent Hughes. Luke: That You May Know the Truth. Vol. I, (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1998) p. 261]
“Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. (12) And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. (13) When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." (14) Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." (15) So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. (16) Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen up among us"; and, "God has visited His people." (17) And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.”
The Background of the Miracle
(vv. 11-12) “Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. (12) And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out…”.
Shortly after Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant we find Jesus traveling toward the city of Nain accompanied by a large crowd. The name Nain means “pleasant” or “delightful.” On this particular day it undoubtedly was still a very pleasant place, but its beauty was over-shadowed by something dark, gloomy and fearful – it was death.
As Jesus led his disciples and all those who were following them into the city of Nain they met a very different crowd. The crowd with Jesus was undoubtedly joyful, jubilant and expectant. Everything was upbeat. But the crowd heading out of town in the opposite direction had a very different frame of mind. The perspective of the other crowd was gloomy and dark. They were mourning the death of a widow’s only son. There is no joy, no hope, no expectancy. Jesus was headed for the city, while the mourners were headed for the cemetery. But in His wisdom He orchestrated “a meeting at the gate.”
(v.12) “ And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.”
This young man was already dead. This was actually the funeral procession taking him to his burial place. Death had already exercised its power over him. We are not told how he died or what caused his death. It could have been an accident or it could have been disease, but the sad truth is people of all ages die everyday. This is the place at which our hopes also die. When our loved one stops breathing and the heart stops pumping, we say, “That’s it, it is finished!” As George Bernard Shaw wrote; “The statistics of death are quite impressive – one of one people die.”