The Widow of Nain

Only Luke mentions the place known as Nain, located a day’s journey southwest of Capernaum. Nain means beauty. Though insignificant as a relatively small village, it is recorded in scripture for that glorious day when God visited His people there.

In seven short verses, Luke 7. 11-17, Luke gives us an orderly account, written with certainty of those things which took place, Luke 1. 3, 4. Therefore, we have confidence in taking to heart every word for the express purpose of communicating truth for our lives. We’ll look first at the miracle; then, the message.

The narrative opens with the Lord Jesus arriving at Nain. He was coming from Capernaum where He had healed a man, a servant of a Roman centurion who was commended by the Lord for his great faith. The Lord Jesus is accompanied by His disciples and a large crowd. We can imagine their enthusiasm, coming from the events in Capernaum, with joy in their hearts and a spring in their step.

As they approach the city to enter in at the gate, there is another large crowd that is going out of the city. It is a funeral procession for a young man, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. In striking contrast to our Lord’s entourage, this procession was one of death and despair, weeping and wailing, engulfed with heartfelt sympathy for this poor widow now all alone. No husband, and now her son gone!

We watch in wonder at the sight before us as these two large crowds converge upon each other at the gate of the entrance into Nain and see this miracle unfold. We read, ‘When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep”’, 7. 13 NKJV. The Lord makes His way into the midst of the movement and, with the touch of His hand upon the coffin, everything comes to a stop. Stillness and silence replace the symphony of joy mingled with sorrow. They hear the words from His lips, ‘“Young man, I say to you, arise”’, v. 14 NKJV. And the young man sat up and began to speak.

We would like very much to know what the young man said, but his words are not included. However, Luke does include the fact that the Lord presents him to his mother. The reaction of the crowds, now blended as one, is that of fear that came upon them all and the words that glorified God saying, ‘a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people’, v. 16.

This visitation of God is only noted here at Nain. It was foretold by Zacharias in Luke chapter 1 and warned prophetically from Olivet by the Lord Jesus in chapter 19. But in present, personal power, we read that God visited His people when the Lord worked this miracle at the beautiful, little village of Nain.

But there’s more to the miracle, for every miracle has a message. The message of the miracle conveys truths to which we all relate in life and should bring us to the same conclusion as it did the crowd that day.

First, some circumstances. They were on a journey, and we are too. We are on the journey of life that takes us all to the ultimate circumstance, death. We need not fear, for the Lord looks on us like He did on the widow of Nain, with compassion. We may have been surprised to hear His words, ‘Do not weep’, for we are told to weep with those who weep. Someone has observed that no one ever died in the presence of the Lord of life! It was true that day.

Secondly, some comparisons. There are two ‘only sons’. The Lord Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, and the lad, the only son of his mother. There are two large crowds. One crowd led by the Lord of life and the other crowd, a funeral procession. There are two directions, one coming in and the other going out. There are two experiences, one of joy and gladness, the other of sorrow and sadness.

Thirdly, there is a consideration. Everything culminates at one place, at the gate. This gate represents to us a decision between life and death. As life and death converge on each other, which will give way? Will life give way to death or will death give way to life? The Bible declares that ‘Death is swallowed up in victory [life]’, 1 Cor. 15. 54!

The wonderful message of this miracle is one of life. We read that the Lord Jesus presented the young man to his mother. The word, presented, is the same as the word translated ‘gave’ in John chapter 3 verse 16, ‘that he gave his only begotten Son’. The gift of God is eternal life, and it is freely given to all who believe.

Lastly, a conversation. The young man sat up and began to speak. Don’t you and I have something to talk about? We should be telling others how He touched our lives and brought us out of death and into life!

On that day when the Lord visited the little city of Nain, beauty, He gave beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning, Isa. 61. 3. He can do that in our lives, too.


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