Raised from the Dead the Son of the Widow of Nain
Luke is the only Gospel to record this amazing miracle. “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 nigh 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.”
(Luke 7: 11-15 in the Bible)
Who Was the Widow of Nain and What Challenges Did She Face
“She is not named in the scriptures but is simply known by the name of her village and by her marital status.
Nain was a small farming village at Jesus’s time, nestled up against Mount Moreh, which defined the east side of the Jezreel Valley. The town itself was off the beaten path. Access to it was limited to a single road. During Jesus’s time, this settlement would have been small and relatively poor, and it has remained that way ever since. Today it is home to about 1,500 inhabitants. Luke begins his account by noting that Jesus was in Capernaum the day before and had healed the centurion’s servant. Then we learn that “the day after”, the Savior went into a city called Nain, accompanied by a large group of disciples. This sequence is very important. Capernaum is situated on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, 600 feet below sea level. Nain is about 30 miles southwest of Capernaum at 700 feet above sea level, thus requiring an arduous, uphill climb to Nain. In order to walk from Capernaum to Nain, it would have taken at least one or two days. This means that Jesus probably had to arise very early or possibly even walk during the night in order to intercept the burial procession “the day after.”
Obviously, having a son die would be a tragedy for anyone, but consider the implications for this widow. Just what would it have meant socially, spiritually, and financially to be a widow without an inheritor in ancient Israel. Not only was there spiritual and emotional pain, but this widow of Nain was also facing financial ruin—even staring starvation in the face. Upon marriage, a woman was assigned to her husband’s family for financial protection. If he died, then her care was delegated to her birthright son. Now that this widow’s birthright and only son was dead, she was at the end of her rope financially. If her son was in his 20s, she was probably a middle-aged woman, living in a small, secluded farm town, and now found herself spiritually, socially, and financially destitute.”
The Savior’s Timing was More Than a Coincidence
“Precisely at the narrow window of time when the villagers were carrying this woman’s son out to be buried, Jesus met the procession and “had compassion on her” Actually, this might be Luke’s greatest understatement. Jesus somehow sensed the utterly desperate situation of this widow. Perhaps she had spent the night sprawled on her dirt floor, begging Heavenly Father to know why. Perhaps she had even openly questioned why He was requiring her to live any longer on this earth. Or perhaps she was terrified of the pending loneliness that she would face. We do not know. But we do know that the Savior chose to leave Capernaum, which could have required Him to walk through the night in order to intercept the burial procession right before they put the body in the ground. Yes, when He saw her tear-stained face as she walked behind the procession, Jesus felt great compassion for this woman—but it appears that His compassion came from feelings He experienced long before He just “happened” to intercept that burial entourage. He arrived there precisely in her moment of need.”
The Lesson We can Learn from this Miracle
She represents the essence of the Savior’s personalized ministry and how He reached out to the discouraged
and common people. This account firmly establishes the issue about whether God knows and cares about each of us in a very personal manner. He will help us individually if we draw near to Him in prayer and faithfulness.
Quotes were used from Keith Wilson’s article in the April, 2019 Liahona Magazine.