As Christians we often say that Jesus is the answer to all of our problems, but for me that is exemplified in the case of the grieving widow found in Luke C7:11.
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.
Luke writes a story in which two large groups meet at the gates of Nain; one group approaching the town full of excitement and hope, watching Jesus and wondering what He will do or say next. The other coming out of the town are a crowd of weeping, despair and no hope for what is going to come in the life of this widow.
In Western culture today what is the respectful thing to do if you meet a funeral procession on the road? Culturally the correct thing to do if you are driving is to pull your car over out of respect for that person, or perhaps remove your cap if you are wearing one and let the funeral pass you by.
However, in Jewish culture and tradition if you were met with a funeral procession you were obligated to join it. Picture what the funeral atmosphere must have been like, it was one of weeping, wailing and sadness and it comes into a head on collision course with the Jesus movement.
Like two waves meeting head on the question is, which one would end up following the other?
Luke also includes a really important detail that conveys almost the desperation and hopelessness of the situation. The boy who is dead is the only son of a widow. This is a really important detail because unfortunately, for much of history, a woman without the protection or provision of a man could not be expected to survive long. Many in this culture died from hunger, exposure or assault.
Although Jewish culture at the time led the rest of the ancient world in caring for the helpless, such as orphans, widows and the disabled, they tended to offer “just enough”rather than what would be sufficient for a vibrant life. So not only was this woman mourning the death of her son, she was desperate and no doubt felt so alone.
Notice in this story that no one asks Jesus for help; the very man who has become famous in the region for performing the impossible? Why do you think that is? Do you think maybe they all thought it was a step too far? The young man after all was already dead. Maybe they felt this situation was beyond hope, it was beyond fixable, it was beyond possibility.
But then we read that Jesus approaches this woman and Luke tells us that,
Verse 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
It is Gods heart that drives everything that He does for you and for me. It is His love for you and for me, and it was His love for this woman and His understanding of her situation that caused Him to do the impossible in that situation. Jesus’ heart goes out to this widow, He brings her son back to life and gives him back to his Mom.
When we meet with Jesus, even impossible situations of hopelessness can turn into an opportunity to see the power of God in our lives.
The crowd filled with excitement and joy didn’t join the funeral parade of hopelessness; instead, they came with hope and a healer, and His name was Jesus.