Miracle 11:
Raising the Widow's Son From Nain
  

I. OBSERVATION

A. Passage Selected: Luke 7:11-16

Luke 7:11-16  And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. 12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. 14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.  15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. 16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.

B. Progression Stated: Logical

a.       The effect of the miracle on the crowd is the emphasis.

b.       In our culture, if you are driving along and you see a funeral procession, you are supposed to pull over out of courtesy and respect and let the whole procession pass.  According to Jewish tradition, if you intersected a funeral you were obliged to join it.  So we have the collision of two parades.  The question is which parade will follow which?

C. Presentation Summarized:

2.      The setting 7:11-12

a.       Only Dr. Luke records this incident. It concerns a restoration to life or, as some would call it, a resurrection.

1.     The instances recorded of Jesus raising people from the dead technically are not resurrections as we think of them. All the Lord did was restore life back into old bodies.

2.     Tradition says that after the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead, Lazarus asked Him if he would have to die again. Our Lord told him he would have to die again, and Lazarus never smiled from that day on. Whether or not that tradition is accurate, I can imagine that going through the doorway of death once would be enough!

3.     Up to this day only one Person has been raised from the dead in resurrection, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

4.     Luke 7:15 The first of Jesus’ three miracles of raising the dead (8:40–56; John 11:1–44). Such miracles were powerful messianic signs (v. 22).

b.       These “resurrections” differ from the resurrection of Christ, however, for these three were reunited with their mortal bodies only to die once more. As the first to be clothed with an imperishable, spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:42–44), Jesus is indeed the “firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18; cf. 1 Cor. 15:20).[1]

1.     I am of the opinion that He raised from the dead more than the three people who are recorded in the Bible. These three instances are examples, probably from three age groups: a child, a young man, and an adult man.

2.     But let’s agree that He is the firstfruits of them that sleep. He is the only one raised from the dead in a glorified body.

3.     One of these days, in the event we call the Rapture, the dead in Christ and the living believers will be changed into resurrected and glorified bodies, and will be caught up to be with the Lord. That resurrected body will never die.

c.        The account of the dead son of the widow of Nain is indeed sad. He was the only son of a widowed mother, which made his death twice as tragic.

d.       While passing through the village of Nain, the Lord met the funeral procession. Someone has said that He broke up every funeral He met.

e.       Jesus raised this young man from the dead for the sake of this lonely mother. He had compassion for this woman and her situation. He touched the casket in which the young man lay and spoke to him. He always used the same method in raising people from the dead. He spoke directly to them.

f.         Also at the Rapture, it will be His voice. Scripture tells us, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16–17).

g.       He is coming for us with a shout. His voice will be like the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. His one solo voice will call His own back from the dead. He always used the same method in restoring life. He did not, however, use the same method in other miracles. But to raise the dead He always spoke directly to them[2]

h.       A large crowd is following Jesus as he approached Nain.  At the same time, a large funeral procession was leaving Nain headed for the cemetery.

i.         In our culture, if you are driving along and you see a funeral procession, you are supposed to pull over out of courtesy and respect and let the whole procession pass.  According to Jewish tradition, if you intersected a funeral you were obliged to join it.  So we have the collision of two parades.  The question is which parade will follow which?

j.         This is the first of three people Jesus will raise from the dead. In the raising of Jairus’ daughter, she had just died.  This guy was on the way to the grave when Jesus brought him back to life, and Lazarus was dead four days before he raised him.  It doesn’t matter to God how long you’ve been dead. He can bring back all the sailors buried at sea that are now fish food or those that are just ashes. He can take care of it.

3.      The city Na´in (beauty, pleasant),

a.       A village of Galilee, the gate of which is made illustrious by the raising of the widow’s son. Luke 7:12.

b.       The modern Nein is situated on the northwestern edge of the “Little Hermon,” or Jebel-ed-DuÆhy, where the ground falls into the Plain of Esdraelon.

c.        The entrance to the place, where our Saviour met the funeral, must probably always have been up the steep ascent from the plain; and here, on the west side of the village, the rock is full of sepulchral caves.[3]

d.       Nain is located about 10 miles southeast of Nazareth, just south of Mt. Tabor. It is about a day’s journey southwest of Capernaum where he had healed the centurion’s servant. Archaeologists have found a burial site east of the city about 10 miles away.

4. The funeral procession

a.       They are going out of the city.  Jesus is going in.

b.       The funeral atmosphere was one of weeping and wailing and sadness. It was especially sad because this woman was now all alone.

c.        The mother would have been walking in front of the bier, so Jesus would have met her first.

d.       The death of a child is heartbreak to the parents, engulfing them in a flood of grief and blame. Only someone who has had this experience can fully understand the anguish of losing a child. The bereaved mother may well hold her dying son, crying in disbelief, feeling that somehow this death is her fault.

e.       Surely she must have wondered what she had done to deserve such tragedy!

f.         When Jesus, the prophesied Son of God, was born of Mary, she became his devoted mother. Imagine the anguish Mary felt as she stood by the cruel cross and saw her son crucified (John 19:25, 26).

g.       Only a parent in pain can know her grief; yet we all can have her hope (Rev. 21:4). This woman who has lost her son or those who are facing the death of a loved one has the eternal hope that her child’s life is not over.[4]

h.       Nobody asked Him to help, but out of compassion He took action.[5]

5.  Jesus'  procession

a.       Jesus’ procession was one filled with joy.

b.       Vrs 11…and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.”

      6. The sign 7:13-15

a. His compassion

1.     This woman was already a widow and had now lost her only son and only means of support.  Her grief was not balanced, she was alone.

2.     She was at great social risk and embarrassment. 

3.     Jesus felt great compassion for her. Moved with compassion for the sorrowing woman He bade her dry her tears. But more than words is needed to stay the flood of grief. [6]

4.     The word for compassion is splagcnivzomai (splagcnivzomai). It is only used of Jesus and the Good Samaritan. And everytime it is used, the result of the compassion is not just detached concern or kind words, but always involvement and action. He tells her not to cry and raises the boy from death.

b. His contact

1.     Touching a corpse caused defilement in the OT. 

2.     Serious uncleanness was connected with dead bodies, including both humans and animals (Lev. 11:25–31). Anything on which a dead thing fell would become unclean (Lev. 11:32). Severe defilement came from a dead human body: “He who touches the dead body of anyone shall be unclean seven days” (Num. 19:11). Indeed, when a person died in a tent, the whole tent was regarded as unclean (Num. 19:14). To be unclean was to be disqualified for divine worship.[7]

3.     Jesus could have been defiled, but instead he raises the dead.  He touches the coffin. 

4.     The word translated “touch” is a strong word in the Greek meaning to “lay hold”.  Perhaps it indicates that he grabbed hold of the coffin firmly to stop the procession.

c. His command

1.     He speaks and it happens.  Even the dead hear him.

2.     The astounded crowd heard Him address the figure upon the bier: “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.”

3.     The words of the Prince of Life runs in the realm of the dead! The lad sat up and began to speak.

4.     But the Lord does not only snatch the prey from the mighty. He binds up broken hearts and wipes tears away from all faces.

5.     So “He delivered him to his mother,” and made effective His command “Weep not.” Her son is not only brought back from the gates of the tomb, he is restored to her as a gift from the Lord.[8]

3. The sequel 7:16

a.       The immediate effects - fear came upon them all and then they glorified God. 

b.       They conclude that Jesus is a great prophet like Elijah and Elisha.  There are allusions to both these prophets in the miracle account.

c.       The phrase - “he gave him back to his mother” is the same phrase used in 1Ki 17:23 when Elijah raised the boy from the dead and “gave him back to his mother.”

d.       The location of the miracle in Nain is also possibly an allusion to the raising of the Shunamite woman’s son by Elisha because Nain is only a couple of miles north of Shunem (cf. 2Ki 4:).

e.       So the event and location are both allusions to Elijah and Elisha.  Their conclusion is true.  Jesus is a great prophet. But their understanding is incomplete. Jesus is in fact the greater prophet spoken of in Deut 18:15f. 

f.         Remote effects - the report went out to the surrounding district.

II. INTERPRETATION

·          Jesus demonstrates that he has power over death and demonstrates himself to be even greater than the prophets of the OT.  He fulfills the imagery of Elisha, Elijah and Moses.  He doesn’t pray to God to do this.  He doesn’t go through any rituals, lay on the child, etc. like Elijah and Elisha did.  He just says it and it happens.

III. APPLICATIONS

·          James 1:27 - Jesus demonstrates genuine religion.  He cared for widows. Do we have compassion? Is our compassion active or passive?

·          Even though you believe in resurrection, there is still room for sorrow.  Cry with those who lose loved ones.  Sometimes Christians are almost callused about death because they know the person is going to heaven.  But here we see that even though Jesus knew he was about to raise the son, he still felt sorrow for the mother because she was hurting.

·          The providence or sovereignty of God works his program out in my life.  This was not a chance meeting.  It was providential.

·          The timing was just right.  He could have gotten to Nain sooner and healed the boy.  Or not raised him and still had compassion on her.  If God tarries another 1000 years, does that mean He does not care or has lost control?



[1]Luder Whitlock, Jr., executive director; R.C Sproul, general editor, New Geneva study Bible [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1995 by Foundation for Reformation.

[2]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[3]William Smith; revised and edited by F.N. and M.A. Peloubet, Smith’s Bible dictionary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997.

[4]Dorothy Kelley Patterson, general editor; Rhonda Harrington Kelley, managing editor, Woman’s study Bible [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1995.

[5]Luder Whitlock, Jr., executive director; R.C Sproul, general editor, New Geneva study Bible [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1995 by Foundation for Reformation.

[6]W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[7]Ronald F. Youngblood, general editor; F.F. Bruce and R.K. Harrison, consulting editors, Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary: An authoritative one-volume reference work on the Bible with full color illustrations [computer file], electronic edition of the revised edition of Nelson’s illustrated Bible dictionary, Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1995.

[8]W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.