And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.
Now when he came night to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.
And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.
And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God heath visited his people.
And this rumor of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about.
Nain was a little hamlet in Galilee: two miles south of Mount Tabor, southeast from Capernaum.
Something happened there which shocked the entire hamlet: a widow lost her only son!
The widow! Object of sympathy and deep pity in any case. Her mainstay is gone: the husband. Those twain were one flesh. For the rest of her life she is going to be very incomplete, and will become the natural object of commiseration.
But this widow’s lot was the hardest.
She had a son, an only son: life of her life, hope of her hope, love of her love. This son was her all.
But he died.
What is left to the poor widow? Tears.
So also here. Sobbing, she preceded the procession on the way to the graveyard.
And she was worthy: much people of the city was with her. I think that many wept with her. They saw the example of a broken heart.
Indeed, beloved, this was a very sad procession.
But, behold, there comes another procession!
It is Jesus of Nazareth with many of His disciples and much people. It was the day after He restored the noble man’s son who was ready to die. And when the first procession of death came out of the city’s gate, Jesus approached the same gate.
They meet. The procession of death and the procession that has the Prince of Life at its head.
He saw—He had compassion—He said: Weep not!
Deacons, take note! Do you remember the words your minister spake at the time of your installation? Here they are: “comfortable words from Scripture!” He that said: Weep not! is the High Priest of God!
Oh! to be seen by Jesus This look on the widow is n look of eternal compassion. One glance is enough. Jesus saw the widow. There is no question, no answer, no introduction to the Stranger of Galilee. At once He steps toward the procession of death; selects the main figure: the woman; takes her by the arm, and with deep pity murmurs into her ears: Weep not! They are the bowels of mercy of Jehovah over His poor people who are in the throes of deep sorrow. It is expressive of the desire to deliver. Her sorrow became His sorrow. And how apt! His name is the Man of Sorrows.
Weep not! The comforting word. How pregnant with promise. How rich and how deep when Jesus is speaking. And how often empty and powerless when we are speaking the same words.
A few steps away from the widow is the bier, and in full view of the multitude lies the young man. A few steps, and Jesus is near the bier. He touched the bier, and full of wonder the bearers stood still.
Did anything like this ever happen before? Stopping the march of death? No! It is unheard of. O Stranger of Galilee! this man is dead! Do not detain us! We are on the way to the grave: this body is already in the process of dissolution. Let us continue and bury him out of our sight and out of the sight of this weeping widow!
But this Stranger is Jehovah. That makes all the difference in the world.
Yes, the greatest enemy is Death. Here we have a dead man; we are confronted with physical death. But Death is greater than mere physical death. This death reminds the multitude of the horrible spiritual death and eternal death. And death is hard, cruel, irreconcilable.
It attacked this young son of the widow. And nothing could stop its march. No medicines, prayers, tears. Oh, the widow must have suffered when he was laid on his sickbed, and when nothing helped. Pain, weakness, perhaps crying a little, and some tears when he looked at his beloved mother. But nothing could stay death.
And the hour struck when his young face blanched with the terrible color of death. And the widow had a corpse in her house. I cannot fathom the sorrow that must have torn her heart. He is dead, dead, dead!
And now on the way to the cruel grave.
Weep, sorrow not? O Stranger! what mean you?
But Jesus is the King of the whole Universe. He came; He touched the bier. And the bearers stood still. Hush!
And then, turning to the dead form, He laid hands on him, and said: Young man, I say unto thee, Arise!
And: miracle of miracles! he that was dead sat up, and began to speak!
Let all the world take note; let all the scientists listen: only God can raise the dead!
And now note a heavenly tender touch in this beautiful story: He delivered him to his mother. Do you not see it? Jesus must have drawn His arms around the young man, helped him lift himself from the bier, and thus Jesus led him to the open arms of mother! I said: heavenly tender! That is correct.
He began to speak. What? We do not know. But I can guess. This widow was one of God’s own children, and so was her son. They knew the Scriptures. And I think the first impulse of this son, realizing that he rose from the dead, must have been: O God! And then: Oh mother!
We must imagine the rest. How these two multitudes merged, spoke, wondered and marveled. Two expressions the Lord gave us. Some said: A great Prophet is risen up among us! And others: God hath visited His people!
Both are right. Although none of them that saw this miracle realized the depth of this miracle.
You know, Jesus did not raise all the dead. In the three years of His sojourn many thousands must have died in Galilee and Judea. But we know of only three risings from the dead.
Why only three? Why did He not raise all the dead?
Beloved, the object of Jesus was to teach His church a lesson. The three risings, the daughter of Jairus, the young man of Nain, and Lazarus are this lesson.
And here is the lesson: God’s beloved church, His eternally elect people, are dead, and rightly so. We all die, in fact, we are dead when we are born.
Therefore, we all die the physical death.
This young man also. It was sad; everybody spoke of the shocking death of this young man. But it was well. He had been a sinner. The wages of sin is death. You can really say nothing against it. And I will say more: there is really nothing against it not only, but it is majestic, glorious and wonderful!
Beloved! God glorifies Himself in the death of the sinner. The death of every man, be it physical, spiritual, or eternal, manifests, reveals that God is gloriously good, just and holy. Did you ever think of that?
You will see it when you realize that man slapped God in the Face! They slapped Him who is goodness, and sweetness Personified! And so death is the just recompense for such horror.
Yes, we weep at the death of our loved ones, we groan when we walk to the grave, while our hearts are slowly breaking.
But have you ever wept when you saw how God is despised, derided, cursed, and utterly forgotten? Then you also saw that death is beautifully just.
But here is Jesus!
And that tells a story which will make heaven musical forever.
Jesus came on earth in order to break through the shroud of death, and come to stand before the worshipping eyes of His people unto all eternity.
Jesus is Jehovah against whom the whole Church of God sinned, and so became children of wrath even as the others.
Jesus is God who came on earth in the form of a man, in order to take on Himself all the sin, guilt, curse, and wrath of God under which we would have died unto all eternity in hell.
To put it plainly so that even children can understand it: Jesus means that God suffered our hell so that we might go to heaven.
Jesus swallowed all our death unto victory.
Isaiah spoke of this mystery, and it is a mystery which grows sweeter all the while. You find it in his prophecy of chapter 64, verse 5, the second part: “Behold, Thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.”
It is to be lamented that our English fathers did not give us a better translation, but I will try to tell you the meaning.
There are two things mentioned in the text first of all: 1) God is wroth; and 2) for we have sinned. Now then: in those two things enters THE ETERNITY in order that we might be saved.
Do you see it? God enters both our sin and His own wrath, and He exhausts both so that they cease to exist. Why? So that we might be saved.
And that is Jesus.
Yes, death manifests the glory of God in His justice, holiness and truth. But Jesus manifests the glory of God as never before. God dies in human flesh so that millions may stand before His throne and sing, sing, sing His glory for evermore.
That is the lesson of the raising of this beloved son of the widow. Amen.