Luke 7:12 - Widow's Tears Dried
As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother and she was a widow.Luke 7:12
It’s a scene of great contrast. The Lord Jesus with a large crowd of disciples, no doubt excitedly clamouring around the Teacher, approach the gate of Nain. And what meets them is an equally large crowd coming out of the town, only they are not excited. They are devastated. This crowd is in deep mourning because they go to bury a young man from their community. And he was the only son of his widowed mother.
The grief for the loss of such a young man would have already been heavy but it was particularly acute for this widow. Widows in Jesus’ time were among the poorest of the land. Single women did not normally work for a living. A woman either lived under her father’s protective care or her husband’s and it was a great hardship when a married woman lost her husband. She not only lost her companion but her provider.
And now the widow of Nain lost her son, her one and only son. While grieving a dead husband, she could have at least taken comfort in a son who could put food on the table and provide for the two of them, but on this day also that source of comfort was taken from her – her only son had fallen dead!
There’s a loss there that is hard to put into words and that we cannot really fathom unless we’ve experienced it personally. Just imagine losing your husband or your wife – and then your only child! And if you were a widow in Bible times not only would the grief be so deep it could make you physically ill, not only would there be a lonely ache to see your beloved husband again or to hug your only son one more time, but on top of that your main source of income would also be gone! You literally had no one to care for you and put food on your table!
So the widow of Nain, on the day Jesus met her, was deeply distressed. And the Lord is deeply touched, “His heart went out to her and He said, ‘Don’t cry’” (v. 13). It’s a very strong verb and speaks of a visceral response from the core of the Saviour’s being, “Weep no longer, dear sister.” He is confronted at the gate of Nain with the acute and terrible effects of sin, with the misery of a life shattered by death and hammered by poverty and loneliness, and the Lord Jesus is intensely moved, “Dry your tears, my child.”
Brothers and sisters, you have a Saviour who cares passionately and deeply about every tear you shed, about every pang of loneliness you feel, about every ounce of pain you experience. Jesus Christ is not our aloof Saviour in heaven who is unaware of our feelings but He is our brother in the flesh who’s been here on this earth, who’s looked deeply into the eyes of the widow of Nain and understood her tremendous grief and suffering. He understands you too and is moved with compassion to help you.
For Jesus immediately acts upon his words, “Then He went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still” (v. 14). Isn’t this a miracle of itself? Our Lord is not ashamed to connect his holiness with our sin and shame, with the very penalty of death – He voluntarily touches death! No one except close family would have touched the body with a ten-foot pole for fear of becoming unclean but Jesus puts his hand on the bier as if to say, “Stop moving – I’ve got business with this body of death!” This widow who has lost her only son will cry no longer because the Father sent his only Son to die also for her! The grief of a childless widow can be reversed because the Father was willing to give up his only Child to release her from her oppression!
The Lord commands and the dead man returns to life. But what comes next is Jesus’ main concern, “…and Jesus gave him back to his mother.” The widow is restored! There will come a day when every believing mother who has lost a child of faith will receive that child back. Every father who has buried a son, every mother who has buried a daughter in the Lord will be fully comforted by the Lord. Your Saviour knows your sorrow and the restoration of the widow of Nain is a sure promise of your future restoration!