Now we will turn to Luke chapters 7 and 8 for two accounts of children who were raised from the dead and given back to their parents. The first, which we read about in Luke 7:11-16, tells us about a widow’s only son who had died. Here is Luke’s account:
Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.”
In the midst of ministering to a large crowd notice where Jesus was focused. As this group neared the city the only son of a widow was being carried out to be buried. This funeral procession would not have been the focus of the crowd as they were following Jesus, probably watching for more miracles and wonders. I am sure that they gave little thought to the procession passing by on its way to the cemetery.
Yet this is where we see Jesus focused. Jesus saw her and had compassion on her in this time of grief and loss. He said to her, “Do not weep.” And he called the dead man to rise up – and he did! Jesus presented him to his mother alive. The result was immediate fear and the glorifying of God for what they had just witnessed. They confessed that this was indeed a visit from God.
I want to look briefly at Jesus’ focus. He saw the widow and had compassion on her. The word means to be moved with sympathy. Jesus felt this woman’s loss. He sympathized with her. He cared about how she felt and what she was going through. Jesus loved this widow and gave her this son back from the dead.
Interestingly, Jesus’ first resurrection was raising the son of a widow – just like Elijah. He cared about this woman who had lost so much. I am struck over and over again by the fact that the true measure of one’s “religion” is seen in how they treat widows and orphans (James 1:27).
Notice in this amazing miracle of the giving of life back to one who was dead and about to be buried the love and compassion of Jesus for those who have no one else to love and care for them. They have a priority in His Kingdom and should have a priority in our lives.
The second account found in Luke 8:49-56 finds Jesus raising a young girl from the dead. Let’s read it together:
While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, “Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher.” But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl. Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead. But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Little girl, arise.” Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat. And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.
A man had come to hope that Jesus would heal his sick daughter. She was only 12 years old and very near death. This was Jairus’ last hope. Jesus was thronged by people. The crowd was there and as he tried to get near to Jesus people were pressing around into Jesus and before he could get Him to come see his little girl word came that his daughter had died.
Jesus immediately told this man not to fear but only believe. Only believe. How simple it sounds but how difficult it can be. This man had just been told his daughter was dead and that there was now no hope, and yet Jesus told him to only believe and his daughter would be well.
Well? She had died! Well? How could this be? She is already gone, it is already too late, what can we do now? “Only believe.”
He did believe, and Jesus went in to where the girl’s body was, He took her hand and said to her, “Little girl, arise.” That was all. Beyond the disbelief of the crowd, the grief and faith of the parents, the wonder of the disciples, the press of the crowd, and the beyond all logical expectations Jesus called this little girl to life and she lived again.
Here in these two situations we see Jesus’ love for people. We see His care for a widow and for a grieving father and mother. We see His loving kindness in calling these two back to life. And we see the glory of God – for only God can give life. Jesus here reveals to us Who He really is and what He has come to do. He has come to call the dead to new life!