Today I want to consider another woman we meet in the Bible. She doesn’t have a name but we know she was a widow from Nain (A village located 14 kilometers south of Nazareth) whose only son had died. Death had taken away her only source of hope, strength as well as protection. There was nothing she could do about it but weep bitterly. But then something unexpected happened. A stranger she met told her not to weep. The rest is history.
Certain problems in life make us feel just like this poor widow because similar to death these problems are beyond our control. However this miracle shows us that nothing, not even death is beyond the control of Jesus. It gives us four convincing reasons to take our crippling problems to his presence.
Read Luke 7:11-17
1. The compassion of Jesus
By this time a large crowd literally followed Jesus from one village to another with the hope of seeing another miracle. They were met by a funeral procession when entered the town called Nain (Luke 7:11-12).
Life in the first century Middle East was difficult. Men often died at a very young age. Funerals were very common (Luke 8:40-56; John 11:1-14). Jesus interfered with the funeral procession the moment he learned that the deceased was the only son of a widow .
People often interfere with other people’s business for many purposes. The modern society loves to interfere with other people’s business for its own benefit. In fact the Parable of the Unrighteous Judge (Luke 18:1-5) indicates that even in the ancient society there were wicked men who targeted poor widows for their own personal gain.
But Jesus’ interference with the procession was caused by his compassion for the weeping widow (Luke 7:13). He knew what it was like to be a helpless, lonely widow because his own mother was one (John 19:27). We understand how strong was Jesus’ compassion for this widow because he did not hesitate to touch the coffin although it will make him ceremonially unclean.
Right now you also might be feeling lonely and helpless just like this widow. But this miracle teaches Jesus is full of compassion, he will do anything to help us, even if it means loss to him. Compassion is an indispensable characteristic of Jesus. The other Gospels bear witness to this. (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34; Mark 1:40-41; 6:34). Then why not take your problem to him?
2. The assurance he gives us
It’s ridiculous to tell a widow who has lost her only family to “not weep”. But it’s exactly what Jesus did. He said to the widow “do not weep”. I have been in many funerals and seen people attempting to comfort the grief stricken friends and family members of the deceased with their words. But Jesus wasn’t attempting to comfort the widow. He was giving her assurance that everything will be fine again.
Today we have Jesus’ assurance in writing, which is the Holy Bible. In it there are many words of assurance. It tells us not to be afraid because he is with us (Isaiah 41:10), not to feel anxious because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and not to feel sad (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). These are just a few. Jesus has given us so much assurance. Then why not take your problem to him?
3. His power and the authority
Jesus’ act of raising the widow’s son bears close resemblance to Elijah’s act of raising the son of a widow in 1 Kings 17:17-24. In 2 Kings 4:18-37 Elisha raised a Shunammite woman’s son from the dead. But Elijah and Elisha didn’t command the dead to come to life. They didn’t have power and authority over the power of death. They prayed to the one who had. Jesus however commanded the widow’s dead son and he immediately came to life. In Luke 8:54-55 he commanded Jairus’ dead daughter and she lived. In John 11:43-44 he commanded Lazarus of Bethany and the dead man returned to life instantly. All these miracles are proof of power and authority Jesus has over the deadly problems of life.
Many assurances the world gives us turn out to be empty assurance, because the world can’t deliver as much as it offers. But Jesus is not so. The people at the funeral of Jairus’ daughter laughed at Jesus for they thought Jesus is insane (Luke 8:52-53). Martha knew too much she didn’t believe when Jesus assured her brother Lazarus will rise again (John 11:23-24). But all of them realized how wrong they were. May be you are feeling the same about me and my Jesus. Why not take your problem to him and find out for sure?
4. His divinity and presence
The Bible provides a detailed picture of the crowd’s response to the miracle, (Luke 7:16-17). For our message, it’s crucial we understand the significance of these responses. If you have systematically surveyed the Bible before, you may know that there is a time gap of 400 years between the period covered by the Old Testament and the period covered by the New Testament. We call this the “Intertestamental Period” because during this period God revealed nothing new to his people. As a result people lived in deep spiritual darkness.
The exclamation “A great prophet has appeared among us!” marks the end of the intertestamental period and the long waited fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 9:2. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
The second exclamation “God has come to help his people!” marks not only the fulfillment the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 but also the divinity of Jesus, because Immanuel means “God is with us”.
Right now may be you are going through a very difficult time in life and actually doubting the presence of God and his love. If you do, please don’t feel guilty. All of us doubt at some point in life (Luke 7:18-20). But I do want you to know that Psalm 46:1 says this about God. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” People of Nain shouted “God has come to help his people” because they thought God has suddenly remembered them after awfully long 400 years. But God didn’t forget his people. He never does. He was quiet but he wasn’t passive. He was silently preparing the world for his arrival, (Matthew 3:1-3). Then at the end of the 400 years the most glorious and the biggest event recorded in human history took place when he was born to this world to rescue the mankind.
Likewise if God seems to be distant in your life now, remember that he is about to do something bigger and something glorious in your life, through Jesus. Then why not take your problem to Jesus right now?
In Matthew 18:20 Jesus promised, for where two or three are gathered in his name, he will be there with them. The same Jesus who raised this widow’s son 2000 years ago is alive and among us even as I speak. So please come to the altar now and experience his compassion, the assurance, the power and authority over your situation.