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13. Raising the Widow’s Son From Nain


A. Passage Selected: Luke 7:11-16

B. Progression Stated: Logical

The effect of the miracle on the crowd is the emphasis.

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. The setting 7:11-12

A large crowd is following Jesus as he approached Nain. At the same time, a large funeral procession was leaving Nain headed for the cemetery.

In our culture, if you are driving along and you see a funeral procession, you are supposed to pull over out of courtesy and respect and let the whole procession pass. According to Jewish tradition, if you intersected a funeral you were obliged to join it. So we have the collision of two parades. The question is which parade will follow which?

This is the first of three people Jesus will raise from the dead. In the raising of Jairus’ daughter, she had just died. This guy was on the way to the grave when Jesus brought him back to life, and Lazarus was dead four days before he raised him. It doesn’t matter to God how long you’ve been dead. He can bring back all the sailors buried at sea that are now fish food or those that are just ashes. He can take care of it.

a. The city

Nain is located about 10 miles southeast of Nazareth, just south of Mt. Tabor. It is about a day’s journey southwest of Capernaum where he had healed the centurion’s servant. Archaeologists have found a burial site east of the city about 10 miles away.

c. The funeral procession

They are going out of the city. Jesus is going in. The funeral atmosphere was one of weeping and wailing and sadness. It was especially sad because this woman was now all alone.

d. Jesus’ procession

Jesus’ procession was one filled with joy.

2. The sign 7:13-15
a. His compassion

This woman was already a widow and had now lost her only son and only means of support. She was at great social risk and embarrassment. Jesus felt great compassion for her. The word for compassion is splagcnivzomai (splagcnivzomai). It is only used of Jesus and the Good Samaritan. And everytime it is used, the result of the compassion is not just detached concern or kind words, but always involvement and action. He tells her not to cry and raises the boy from death.

b. His contact

Touching a corpse caused defilement in the OT. Jesus could have been defiled, but instead he raises the dead. He touches the coffin. The word translated “touch” is a strong word in the Greek meaning to “lay hold”. Perhaps it indicates that he grabbed hold of the coffin firmly to stop the procession.

c. His command

He speaks and it happens. Even the dead hear him.

3. The sequel 7:16

The immediate effects - fear came upon them all and then they glorified God. They conclude that Jesus is a great prophet like Elijah and Elisha. There are allusions to both these prophets in the miracle account. The phrase - “he gave him back to his mother” is the same phrase used in 1Ki 17:23 when Elijah raised the boy from the dead and “gave him back to his mother.” The location of the miracle in Nain is also possibly an allusion to the raising of the Shunamite woman’s son by Elisha because Nain is only a couple of miles north of Shunem (cf. 2Ki 4:). So the event and location are both allusions to Elijah and Elisha. Their conclusion is true. Jesus is a great prophet. But their understanding is incomplete. Jesus is in fact the greater prophet spoken of in Deut 18:15f.

Remote effects - the report went out to the surrounding district.


  • Jesus demonstrates that he has power over death and demonstrates himself to be even greater than the prophets of the OT. He fulfills the imagery of Elisha, Elijah and Moses. He doesn’t pray to God to do this. He doesn’t go through any rituals, lay on the child, etc. like Elijah and Elisha did. He just says it and it happens.


  • James 1:27 - Jesus demonstrates genuine religion. He cared for widows. Do we have compassion? Is our compassion active or passive?
  • Even though you believe in resurrection, there is still room for sorrow. Cry with those who lose loved ones. Sometimes Christians are almost callused about death because they know the person is going to heaven. But here we see that even though Jesus knew he was about to raise the son, he still felt sorrow for the mother because she was hurting.
  • The providence or sovereignty of God works his program out in my life. This was not a chance meeting. It was providential.
  • The timing was just right. He could have gotten to Nain sooner and healed the boy. Or not raised him and still had compassion on her. If God tarries another 1000 years, does that mean He does not care or has lost control?
  • Related Topics: Miracles

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