When Jesus announced the nature of his ministry in Nazareth, he quoted these words from Isaiah 61.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor. (Luke 4.18)
About six miles from his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus met a woman who fit the definition of “poor.”
— Luke 7.11-12 – Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him.
As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town.
The woman was a widow and was mourning the recent death of her son.
Women were prohibited from working. Without a male member in the family, they were reduced to begging and charity.
The culture of the time provided her no status in the community.
As a side note, even though the disciples play no role in what happened to the woman, they were given the privilege of seeing Jesus in action.
If we follow Jesus, we will have multiple opportunities to see his love and grace touch the lives of others. In our case, he will often use us as the conduit of his ministry.
Compassion in Action
Even though the woman was destined to have no status in the community, she was not overlooked by Jesus.
— Luke 7.13-15 – When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
On another occasion, Jesus declared that people like the woman were blessed.
Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh. (Luke 6.20-21)
Jesus focused his attention on the woman and blessed her by doing three things.
(1) With compassion in his voice, he told her not to weep.
(2) He touched the bier on which the dead body lay. Like touching the leper (Luke 5.12-14), Jesus crossed the boundaries of ritual purity.
(3) He uttered a command, conquered death, and returned the son to his mother.
The people who rejected Jesus in his hometown six short miles away from Nain may have connected the resurrection of this young man to the work of Elijah.
First Kings 17 details how Elijah was fed by a widow in Sidon. When her son died, Elijah prayed and raised him to life (1 Kings 17.20-23).
One portion of Jesus’ message in Nazareth that angered the crowd was mention of Elijah and the widow (Luke 4.25-26).
When word of the young man’s resurrection reached Nazareth, there was certain to be serious discussion about how they had rejected Jesus.
As participants with Jesus, we can join him and imitate his attitudes and actions.
(1) We can show compassion to those who have suffered misfortune.
(2) Even though many situations are messy, we can be willing to become involved as servants of Jesus.
(3) We don’t have the power to speak life into the physically dead, but we can pray for the living and offer assistance.
Promise + Fulfillment + Response
Moses told the people, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet” (Deuteronomy 18.15).
The people in Nain responded to the fulfillment of Moses’ words in proper fashion.
— Luke 7.16-17 – Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!”
This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.
They responded with . . .
— Fear – When God intervenes in our lives, fear and awe are proper responses.
— Glorify God – I have not experienced the kind of awe or fear that is mentioned in this passage, but I have many experiences that have caused me to glorify God.
I have witnessed instances of physical healing and deliverance. However, the most impressive act of God is the transformation of human beings.
I never get tired of giving God glory for his grace and how he makes people new from the inside out.
— Recognition – The people acknowledged that Jesus was a prophet. For a nation that had not seen a prophet since the time of Malachi, this was important indeed.
The first three Gospels reveal the true nature of Jesus in a step-by-step manner. That is why I recommend people interested in knowing Jesus to read those books first.
If you pay attention to the message, you will follow the understanding of the disciples and the crowd into who exactly Jesus is.
Try reading a short passage and talking to God about what you have read. You will discover that Jesus is compassionate, powerful, authoritative, a prophet, and your Savior.
In today’s YouTube video Rudy Ross and I answer a question about speaking to loved ones or other spirits from the grave. One of our listeners asked us to answer a question on this topic.
After Rudy and I discuss the listener’s question, we take up the message from this passage. The video is on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.