What Is Happening
So Jesus just left healing the servant of a centurion. Before this, he finished teaching the beatitudes. He has been busy. As he leaves Capernaum, he travels to an unknown city of Nain (about 30 miles away). Nothing is known about Nain. It’s not mentioned in the Bible before this or after. It seems to be pretty unimportant to the scope. As Jesus nears the town with his unwashed, ungroomed band of brothers and random people (Luke 8:11), he notices a dead man being carried out.
Luke 8:11-12 (CSB)
11 Afterward he was on his way to a town called Nain. His disciples and a large crowd were traveling with him. 12 Just as he neared the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the town was also with her.
A funeral in these times was a bit different than we may think. Likely a group of people was carrying a body, maybe wrapped in a cloth, covered in flowers or something similar, in front of an extended trailing group of people mourning and making a big commotion. Amos mentions that there are professional mourners, even. So perhaps they were there as well.
Amos 5:16 (CSB)
16 Therefore the Lord, the God of Armies, the Lord, says: There will be wailing in all the public squares; they will cry out in anguish in all the streets. The farmer will be called on to mourn, and professional mourners to wail.
The point is you cannot miss what is going on – the funeral procession. And Jesus can’t either.
Jesus Notices The Widow
Keep in mind the Bible is specific that this is a widow. This means she has already felt the loss of losing at least one other person, her husband. And now, she is burning her only son. This woman, much like the centurion servant, for lack of a better word, is probably a nobody. She probably doesn’t carry social clout. This widow probably isn’t well off with a lifetime of inheritance in front of her. She has lost everything… and Jesus comes to her.
Luke 7:13-17 (CSB)
13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said, “Don’t weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the open coffin, and the pallbearers stopped. And he said, “Young man, I tell you, get up!”15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Then fear came over everyone, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people.” 17 This report about him went throughout Judea and all the vicinity.
Wow. Yes, a miracle is happening. We get that. We see that. Jesus tells a dead man to get up, which he obeys. Even the dead can’t disobey Jesus! But something else is happening here. Under Jewish law, anyone who touches a dead body becomes unclean. You cannot touch a dead body! And remember that it is Luke, the doctor, writing this story. He knows who is dead and who is alive. This is a dead man. Not a resting man
Jesus Is Compassion
Numbers 19:11 (CSB)
11 “The person who touches any human corpse will be unclean for seven days.
But the dead do not make Jesus unclean. Jesus cleans the dead! Jesus reaches into death and commands life with one word, “EGEIRO,” which means raise up! And the most amazing thing happens. Luke 7:15, “Jesus gave him back to his mother.” Do we have compassion like Jesus? To stop everything we’re doing at any time and love people. We cannot have a hard heart toward people who are suffering.