Summary: Jesus and the Widow of Nain. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:

Sermon Outline:


The widow and the mourners

Jesus and his followers


The woman’s son and heir

The Father’s son and saviour


Widow: alone and grieving

Jesus: ‘man of sorrows’


Boy: death and decay

Jesus: life and resurrection

Sermon Text:


• 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 was no different;

• Only she saw those hoped shattered, by the premature death of her son.


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?”

• And posted the letter at the airport.

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

• A few days later his mother received the note in the post,

• Recognising the hand writing on the envelope;

• She opened the envelope and starring up at her from the page was the word “Why?”

Here was another mother, a widow:

• Who like the mother of Glen Chambers;

• Had one question racing though her heart and mind – “Why?”

• Notice as we study this passage;

• I want to divide it up under four headings.

(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.”


• 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.

• ill: 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.

• Now the widow in our passage, never made it there:

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


(1). The widows crowd:

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

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

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

• So it is likely that it was late In the afternoon, on the very same day the boy died.

• That the widow encountered Jesus and His disciples arriving at the city gate,

• 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 Five Thousand Pound Funeral!’"

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

• And in the ancient near east,

• You paid professional mourners to help you to express your grief!

(2). Jesus and his crowd of followers.

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