by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
“I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).
Title: Jesus Proves He Is the Resurrection And the Life
Text: So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. (Luke 7:15)
Scripture Reading: Luke 7:11-17
11 Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him and a large crowd.
12 And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.
13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”
15 So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.
16 Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.”
17 And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.
The incident we just read about, took place in the city of Nain. Nain is a small village in the plain of Jezreel, about 25 miles south of Capernaum. The village is still known by the same name, which means “pleasant.” It is truly a beautiful area, yet people die even in beautiful places. The incident happened near the gate of the city, however, the city had never been fortified, so the term “gate” may simply mean a spot where the houses of the town ended and the road began. It was usually outside of town and some distance away, where the dead were buried.
They had different customs, depending upon their age, for carrying out those that were to be buried. A child under a month old was carried in the arms of a person. If the child was a full-month-old it was placed in a little coffin, which was carried in their arms. A child of twelve months old was carried in a little coffin on the shoulder. And a child that was three years old was carried on a stretcher or bed. This is the way that this corpse was carried, through the gate and out of the city.
Two groups of people met at the gate of Nain, that day. One group, consisting of Jesus and His disciples, was coming toward the city from Capernaum, probably by way of Nazareth. It wasn’t only the twelve who accompanied Jesus, but there were many others including some that lived in Capernaum, who followed Him in anticipation of seeing a miracle, like a few hours earlier when Jesus healed a Centurion’s servant.
The other group consisted of the widow, whose boy had died, and a great multitude of mourners.
If we could only travel back in time to that day, and join the crowd by the gate, we might have observed the whole thing.
Allow me to describe the scene to you. The funeral procession was large, which was typical of a boy that was popular and may have been a local favorite, known by many. Those that were to bear the coffin most likely had assistants, who were obliged to accompany them, and they changed bearers if they had to go a great distance, which was often the case. There were some that went before the casket, and others went after it. What's more, there were traditions that worked to increase the size of funeral processions. Those that could afford it, employed professional mourners, who continually cried out how wonderful the person was, and how great a tragedy his death was. Also, it was considered an act of kindness and mercy to follow a corpse to the grave. What's more, there was a prohibition against doing any work, while someone was being buried, even if he was a common person. The whole town must have felt sorry for this mother for having lost her only boy. It was a scene of great sorrow and mourning, made worse because the dead son was an only son. No family accompanied the lone woman since she was widowed and without a family.
There was another son that was mourned, but He was the “Only Begotten Son” of God.” God said this about His Son through His prophet, Zechariah, “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10) There is a day in the future, when the people of Israel will see the Messiah; they will recognize Him, repent, and be cleansed and forgiven. And that’s what happened when you and I recognize Jesus as our Savior.
That day, Jesus did something, outside the city of Nain, which no one else could have done.
He had compassion on the mother. The Greek word used here for “had compassion on her” is representative of inner tenderness. If she was a widow and had been cared for by her only son, then she had undergone a significant loss. Women could not work, at this time; therefore, without a man to support them, they were wholly dependent upon relatives and friends for support. They couldn’t stay alive without charity from others, because they did not have rights and could not own anything.
It’s likely that this woman would die without her son. It was a sad scene, but Jesus was able to do something that no other religious leader or being could have done. He said, “Weep not.”
If anyone else had said “Weep not,” it would have been inappropriate, because tears are a comfort to anyone who hurts so very much, as this mother did. But Jesus could say it, because He knew He would eliminate the cause of the weeping by giving life to the dead body of the widow’s child.
We read that “When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her.” It was because He was God, and He knew all about her; that she was a widow and had lost her only son. He said, “Weep not.” He said it because He was going to help her, even though she did not ask Him. He waited for the body to pass close by. Then he reached out and He touched the body. It was just one touch. One mere touch did it immediately. Actually, He didn’t touch a piece of the wood, as we would think of a casket, but He touched the body stretched on a bed covered by a sheet. What a wonderful proof that He was God.
At this point, I want to attempt to describe for you the raising of the body. After Jesus spoke to the mother, He touched the dead body as a sign for the bearers to stop. The pall-bearers immediately stopped. What Jesus did was shocking, because it was considered unclean to have contact with a dead body. Jewish Law prohibited touching a dead body, or the bone of man, or a grave. The Law declared, “And whosoever touches…a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days.” (Numbers 19:16)
The human corpse was the most defiling thing according to the Old Testament regulations. In all possibility, it represented for the people of God the seriousness and eventual consequence of sin. Romans 5:12 states that “By one man sin entered into the world.” Genesis 3 makes it abundantly clear that this one man, who was Adam, brought sin to the human race by his disobedience. It was not the sins of Adam’s lifetime, but the one original sin which allowed death, sin’s close ally, to enter the world with it. One act of disobedience to God was sufficient to allow sin and death to enter and seep into the entire human race, for that all have sinned.
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