Summary: Widow's Son
THE LONG TRIP TO NAIN (LUKE 7:11-17)
A website asked this question: “What is the average time to walk one mile?”
The quick answer was, “An average person can walk one mile on a flat, well-groomed surface in 17 to 20 minutes. A fit person walking briskly can walk a mile in 13 minutes. An estimated average walking speed for calculating how long a hike or walk will take is around 3 miles per hour.”
The city of Nain is supposedly 25 miles from Capernaum, where Jesus was previously (Luke 7:1) before he made the travel to Nain, so the walk could take at least eight hours, or a day’s journey. If an average person with a stride length of approximately 2.1 to 2.5 feet takes over 2,000 steps to walk one mile, according to experts, then Jesus would have taken 50 thousand steps without rest to reach Nain 25 miles away. Nain was one of the farthest places south, if not the farthest, of Galilee in Jesus’ travels.
Jesus raised three people from the dead, of which the first was the widow’s son, followed by Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:49) and Lazarus (John 11:17). The encounter of Jesus with the widow and her son is recorded in Luke’s gospel only and no other text in the Bible.
What is your happiness and hope in this life? How does the Lord comfort us in times of suffering and sorrow? Why is it necessary for us to rely on God and not on ourselves to our lives around?
Seek His Solace
11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 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. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once told about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child, and the winner was a four-year-old boy.
The boy’s next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had lost his wife recently. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into his gentleman’s yard, climbed into his lap and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing. I just helped him cry.”
An anonymous writer once wrote that, “Kindness is a language that the blind can see and the deaf can hear.”
One cold evening during the holiday season, a little boy about six or seven was standing out in front of a ore window. The little child had no shoes on and his clothes were mere rags.
A young woman passing by saw the little boy and could read the longing in his pale blue eyes. She took the child by the hand and led him into the store. There she bought him new shoes and a complete suit of warm clothing.
They came back outside into the street and the woman said to the child, “Now you can go home and have a very happy holiday.”
The little boy looked up at her and asked, “are you God, Ma'am?” She smiled down at him and replied, “No son, I'm just one of His children.”
The little boy then said, “I knew you had to be some relation.”
Jesus was as tough and as tireless as ever. At the beginning of chapter 7 Jesus entered into Capernaum of Galilee and healed the centurion’s beloved servant, who was sick and about to die (v 2). The next day Jesus traveled to Nain, a 25-mile trek or a day’s journey, according to commentaries, all the way to south of the Sea of Galilee but north of Samaria. In Luke’s gospel of healing instances only two people did not take the initiative to contact Jesus for healing - the man with the withered hand (Luke 6:6) and the man suffering from dropsy (Luke 14:2), but they were, nevertheless, nearby and around him. In this chapter Jesus, however, took a special trip to Nain to visit the widow.
Three things about the woman he met outside the city touched Jesus. First, her son was dead and he was “being carried out” at that time, probably to a cave not too close to the city. The act of “carrying out” was as lonely a funeral procession as the word is, which appears for its only one time in the Bible. Despite the family’s crying, clamor and closeness, the dead must be cut off, cast away and carried out. The dead man was the woman’s only son (homogenes). Jesus definitely could understand the woman’s feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Five of its nine occurrences of this noun in the Bible referred to Jesus as “the only son” (John 1:14, 18, 3:16, 18, 1 John 4:9). Second, she was a widow. A widow is a person who did not remarry after the death of her husband. So, two people close to her had died, not just one. Life had become so lonely, bitter and lost. Third many people were with her. Death touched a whole village. No one was unaffected, unmoved or unconcerned.