a) The Son of a Widow from Nain
Just prior to His visit at Nain Jesus had been preaching about God's Kingdom and, as you may remember from the previous chapter, had healed a sick servant of an army officer. Then our Gospel account reads:
“Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 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. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’ Then he went up and touched the coffin and those carrying it stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. ‘A great prophet has appeared among us,’ they said. ‘God has come to help his people.’ This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.” (Luke 7:11–17)
You can imagine the scene. A crowd accompanied the funeral procession of a man toward the gate of the town, since, in accordance with Jewish custom, burial within the town was prohibited. All were mourning the premature death of this man and the sad condition of his widowed mother who now had no one to care for her. His departure was all the more pathetic because with him her livelihood, her protection, her hope and her joy had departed and were about to be buried.
Once again, in the face of tragedy, Jesus responded not simply with understanding and courtesy, but with compassion. How often the Gospel accounts note that He was moved with compassion!
On this occasion, however, the enemy was not only sickness, but death itself. To the dead man Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” Then Jesus not only dried eyes filled with tears; He healed the broken heart, the source of the tears. And before He left, He delivered the man, now living, to his mother.
What voice is this that orders the dead: “I say to you, get up!” and the dead obey!
Surely those in the crowd who knew their Scriptures would remember how Elijah, many centuries before, had delivered a widow's dead son, now alive, to her (I Kings 17:17-24) and how, even before that, God had promised Moses to send another great prophet to the nation Israel (Deuteronomy 18:15,18). At that time, in those unfavourable days when Rome ruled over Israel and Israel lost her freedom, when God appeared to have turned away from Israel because of the nation's sins, was this great event at Nain a clue to the fulfilment of Zechariah’s prophecy that “God's mercy was about to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”? (Luke 1:79)
The town of Nain had experienced Jesus' proclamation of Good News in a remarkable way. Thank God for those who praised God that He had come to help His people! Yes, God had come to help!