Jesus Raises the Widow’s Son at Nain
11 Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 12 As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. 13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” 17 This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.
The gospel writer, Luke, records the events of simple people and utilizes his pen to unwrap the greater and hidden treasures of life. Right from the beginning, Luke forgets not to mention the stories of some widows of Jesus’ time who were negated and socially marginalized. In Chapter Two, we see the recognition of Anna as prophetess as well as Chapter 12, 18, and 21 we see how Jesus uses the traits of other widows as the model of God’s Kingdom. One gave her abundance to God as well the other widow who was persistent to the judge for justice. This text records the story of a widow from Nain who lost her son.
After losing His father, Joseph, I feel that Jesus would have understood the pain of his Mother Mary, and her loneliness and status in the male centered society. Being the first son of the family, he was responsible to cater to her, even at the Cross; it was so self-evident that the care of His mother was important, she also being a widow. During Jesus’ time, widows were one of the vulnerable subjects of society. When we look into the etymological meaning of Widow's son in this text; it entitles Him, as a youth, to be the only source of support to her. She was left in a mess, and the large crowd was only sympathetic towards her. Her life was in a fix, and she was helpless. Jesus understood her condition and helped her to combat the ordeal.
Jesus said “Do Not Weep”. Normally, when we feel heavy grief, we weep or cry aloud. This will help us to vent our feelings and after the process of catharsis, life seems to be more normal. But Jesus was so keen in communicating a different message at this time of heavy loss. He approached the widow with deep compassion and empathized with her asking her to cease her weeping. Jesus’ compassion performed many miracles and helped the helpless to taste the essence of God’s kingdom which is eternal and communicates that God is the ultimate authority of life. When the whole world was helpless before the face of death, Jesus intriguingly illuminates a different dimension, that in Christ, we have a new life. Death is not the end of life. God is our end and beginning. The mystery around the death instigates fear and misery, but the faith in Jesus and the compassion of Jesus gives us hope and joy. God is always a compassionate God. Lamentation 3:22-24 cites that, “It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassion fails not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul; therefore, will I hope in Him.” Let us continue to believe in the compassion of God which tells us to be confident in God at times of trouble and death.
Jesus touched the bier. God will touch our deathbeds, not to put an end to our lives but to regenerate them. He is the Creator God and has the power to restore life. Even today, this text enlightens our faith in God who is ready to deal with the death bed of many in the Covid context. That’s why we pray for healing the sick. God is our help in troubled times. As Psalm 46:1-3 quotes, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” The physical and materialistic inclinations limit our imagination to visibilities and sensibilities of our world, only. But God is spirit, and He is unfathomable; however, he can never allow us to “DIE” - eternally. Physical death is another form of life, perhaps we say it’s a life in rest waiting for God to intervene in His time. The recent cry of George Floyd “I can’t breathe” symbolizes that many of the vulnerable communities are still in bier and large crowds are helpless to resolve the cry. The knee of the police officer laid the poor friend, Floyd in bier because of apathy. But the words of Jesus dictated to the dead, “young man, I say to you rise! Because of God’s continuous compassion for human beings, every Christian is called to reflect on God if we believe in Christ.
Jesus came to the world to offer life; he never came to destroy anyone. The destruction is evident because we miss the will of God which is grounded in compassion for the weak, poor and the vulnerable of the society. This story demands every Christian to be more empathetic to reverse the anti- life agencies into life giving agencies. Our faith in Christ is a fascinating antidote even to physical death because our destiny is God and God is life not death.
God Bless these words.