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Jesus Raises the Widow's Son.
(at Nain in Galilee.)
C Luke VII. 11–17.
c 11 And it came to pass soon afterwards [many ancient authorities read on the next day], that he went into a city called Nain; and his disciples went with him, and a great multitude. [We find that Jesus had been thronged with multitudes pretty continuously since the choosing of his twelve apostles. Nain lies on the northern slope of the mountain, which the Crusaders called Little Hermon, between twenty and twenty-five miles south of Capernaum, and about two miles west of Endor. At present it is a small place with about a dozen mud hovels, but still bears its old name, which the Arabs have modified into Nein. It is situated on a bench in the mountain about sixty feet above the plain.] 12 Now when he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, there was carried out one that was dead, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. [Places of sepulture were outside the towns, that ceremonial pollution must be avoided. To this rule there was an exception. The kings of Judah were buried in the city of David (II. Kings xvi. 20; xxi. 18, 26). The Jews were careful to give public expression to their sympathy for those who were bereaved (John xi. 19). The death of an only child represented to them as to us the extreme of sorrow (Jer. vi. 26; Zech. xii. 10; Amos viii. 10). But in this case the sorrow was heightened by the fact that the mother was a widow, and hence evidently dependent upon her son for support. Her son had comforted her in her first loss of a husband, but now that her son was dead, there was none left to comfort.] 13 And when the Lord saw her [Some take this use of the phrase “the 276 Lord,” as an evidence of the late date at which Luke wrote his Gospel; but the point is not well taken, for John used it even before Jesus ascension—John xxi. 7], he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. [As the funeral procession came out of the gate, they met Jesus with his company coming in. Hence there were many witnesses to what followed. But the miracle in this instance was not wrought so much attest our Lord's commission, or to show his power, as to do good. As Jesus had no other business in Nain but to do good, we may well believe that he went there for the express purpose of comforting this forlorn mother. Compare John xi. 1–15. Good blessings may come to us when reason speaks and God's wise judgment answers; but we get our best blessings when our afflictions cry unto him and his compassion replies.] 14 And he came nigh and touched the bier: and the bearers stood still. [The word here translated “bier” may mean a bier or coffin, and the authorities are about equally divided as to which it was. It was more likely a stretcher of boards, with the pallet or bed upon it, and the body of the young man wrapped in linen lying upon the bed. Coffins, which were common in Babylon and Egypt, were rarely used by the Jews, save in the burial of people of distinction; and, if we may trust the writing of the later rabbis, the burial of children. When they were used, the body was placed in them, and borne without any lid to the place of sepulture. We find no coffin in the burial of either Lazarus or Jesus. Jesus was, no doubt, known to many in Nain, and it is no wonder that those who bore the bier stood still when he touched it. Though we can not say that he had raised the dead prior to this, we can say that he had healed every kind of disease known among the people, and therefore his act would beget a reasonable expectancy that he might do something even here.] And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. [Here, as in the other instances where Jesus revived the dead, we find that he issues a personal call to the party whose remains are before him. It suggests the sublime thought that he has as full dominion and 277authority over the unseen as over the seen; and that should he issue a general call, all the dead would revive again as obediently and immediately as did the single one to whom he now spoke (John v. 28, 29). The command of Jesus, moreover, is spoken with the ease and consciousness of authority known only to Divinity. Compare the dependent tone of Simon Peter—Acts iii. 6.] 15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. [Thus showing that not only life, but also health and strength, were restored.] And he gave him to his mother. [As the full fruitage of his compassion. The scene suggests that Christ will, with his own hands, restore kindred to kindred in the glorious morning of resurrection.] 16 And fear took hold on all [Because the power of God had been so signally manifested among them. They recognized the presence of God's power and mercy, yet by no means apprehended the nearness of his very person]: and they glorified God, saying, A great prophet is arisen among us: and, God hath visited his people. [Expectation of the return of one of the prophets was at that time widely spread. See Luke ix. 8, 19. That they should esteem Jesus as no more than a prophet was no wonder, for as yet even his apostles had not confessed him as the Christ. In state and conduct Jesus appeared to them too humble to fulfill the popular ideas of Messiahship. But in wisdom and miracle he outshone all God's former messengers. The “visiting” of God refers to the long absence of the more strikingly miraculous powers of God as exercised through the prophets. None had raised the dead since the days of Elisha.] 17 And this report went forth concerning him in the whole of Judaea, and all the region round about. [This great miracle caused the fame of Jesus to fill all Judæa as well as Galilee. It seems, from what next follows, to have reached John the Baptist in his prison on the east of the Dead Sea.] 278
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