Lord, help me to be interested in others and their problems, too.
Read LUKE 7:11–17
Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son
11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Jesus, thou art all compassion; / pure, unbounded love thou art” (Charles Wesley, 1707–1788).
Today’s reading is remarkable, not just because it describes the ﬁrst time Jesus raised someone from the dead but also because it powerfully demonstrates his compassion. Jesus seems to have come across this funeral procession by chance. No one has approached him for help, so it would be easy for him to walk past all the action. Yet it is his great compassion for this woman that stops him. His “heart went out to her” (13) or, as the Greek suggests, he was moved from deep within.
In those days, the widow’s heartbreaking situation would have been viewed by many as punishment for her sin; yet Jesus does not think this way. He is overwhelmed by the tragedy of her circumstances: this is her only son, cut off in his prime. On top of that, she is now a widow with no male relatives to protect her or provide for her, an unqualiﬁed disaster in those days. So moved was Jesus by this woman’s ordeal that he touches the bier on which the body lies, once again breaking religious purity laws and potentially making himself unclean in the eyes of many (Num. 19:11). Remember, too, that women in those days were second-class citizens, yet this woman’s plight is in the forefront of Jesus’ mind.
This story can strengthen us when awful events occur. No matter how long we have been Christians, most of us struggle with doubt when tragedy strikes. In such situations we are often tempted to question God’s love. Here, though, Jesus clearly reflects God’s true nature in a way we can easily grasp. Although we will not always understand why terrible things happen, this story reassures us that God is no disinterested, distant ﬁgure. His compassion for us is immense, and he is moved to the core by our pain.
Meditate upon Jesus’ compassion for this widow. Inspired by this, take time to picture how Jesus feels about any events and situations that currently trouble you.
Lord, we continue to be amazed at how You select one from among many upon whom to demonstrate Your boundless mercy and compassion.