The story of the Widow of Nain is one of the accounts in Scripture that captures one of the many miracles of Jesus. We may never know how many people Jesus actually raised from the dead because the Bible does not capture every single miracle Jesus performed. But it is such a blessing to learn about the power of God through the stories that we do have.
Widow of Nain Bible verses
The story of the widow of Nain is recorded in Luke 7:11-17.
The Widow of Nain story summary
Jesus had just completed the sermon on the Mount. He decided to go elsewhere to minister. Capernaum was his choice. The crowds from the mount were following him still.
While in Capernaum, he decided to visit a village called Nain. Upon approaching the gate of the village, a funeral procession was making its way out of the gate.
There was the mother leading the way, wailing loudly with her son being carried on a coffin behind her and a bunch of villagers also weeping and wailing.
Jesus immediately sized up the situation. His heart was broken by the entire scene in front of him.
Jesus approached the woman to comfort her. “Don’t weep”, he says. Then moved through those who clustered around the coffin and touched it. Those carrying the coffin stopped suddenly.
Then Jesus did something any stranger to him would consider. He spoke to the dead man.
He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”
Immediately the young man opened his eyes, sat up, and began to speak.
The people were in shock. Jesus made the headlines in every town in that area and far wide. Everyone heard about this miracle.
Lessons from the Widow of Nain story
This is one of three recorded stories in the Bible of Jesus raising the dead. The others are Lazarus and Jairus daughter. Jesus raises the son of the widow of Nain in the presence of a huge crowd.
What can we learn from the widow of Nain story?
God knows and understands the details of our situation
This woman was no stranger to sorrow. It goes without saying that the reason she was a widow was because of the loss of her husband.
Now, it was like deja vu. She was being reminded of the past all while having to deal with her current grief.
To make matters worse, this was her only son. At that time and place in history, this was a huge tragedy.
Because her husband had died, her son was her only covering. He was responsible for her. He was to save her from certain hunger, poverty and homelessness.
Now, this woman and her son were already poor and struggling to get by.
How do we know this?
He was going to be buried in a grave. This was a sign of poverty. The wealthy paid someone to cut their tombs in rocks to make a sort of cave that was a grave.
This is how we know Abraham was a very rich man. He bought land with a cave for the burial of his wife, Sarah (Genesis 23).
Back to the story.
The death of this widow’s son worsened her economic situation. She didn’t have the kind of strength to do the kind of labor to make a living.
Without her son, she was now extremely vulnerable and was very likely to become a burden on society. Now, she was at the mercy of her neighbors.
Her son was her only hope for survival. But now that he was gone, she was in a desperate situation. Her future wasn’t just dim. It was very dark.
When Jesus saw the funeral procession, He knew all of these details. Jesus had the whole scene in perspective.
And just like Jesus knew her situation intimately, He knows your situation in the same kind of detail. God sees you. All the grief and pain. All the hurt and sorrow. And all the stuff you need to make it not hurt so much anymore.
When we hurt, God hurts
Scripture tells us that Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw the widow of Nain and the grief she was experiencing.
The word compassion comes from another Greek word which means bowels.
Do you know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach that makes you want to rush to the restroom?
That was Jesus.
He felt her pain so much that his stomach was in knots. He felt sick to his stomach as He witnessed her sorrow.
Many people wonder if God cares about what is happening on earth.
Rest assured, Jesus has not stopped experiencing compassion for us. That’s why He gave up heaven to die on a cruel and crude cross.
That’s why He made the way for the Holy Spirit to be our comforter.
That’s why He dispatched angels to be ministering spirits to us.
That’s why He called you and me to be involved in ministries to feed the hungry, tend to the sick, visit the prisoners, clothe the naked, give a home to the homeless, rescue the vulnerable, and support the weak.
No matter how dark the world seems, God’s compassion is still active today. God still hurts when we hurt.
Compassion is more than sympathy
When Jesus saw the woman, his heart broke. He felt her pain. Then, he did something about it. She didn’t have to ask for help to get it.
When you have sympathy, you feel sorry about the stuff someone else is experiencing.
When you have empathy, you feel the pain of someone else so deeply that it’s as if you have experienced the same trauma. Or, you feel sorrow because you have actually experienced something similar.
But when you have compassion, the pain and sorrow you feel weighs so heavily on you that you feel you must do something to help relieve what the other person is going through.
This is what happened with Jesus.
Another good example from the Bible is Dorcas. She was so moved with compassion for the widows that she fulfilled their need for clothing. At that time, this was a big deal.
How is your compassion? Have you gotten so used to the pain and sorrow around you that you no longer feel compassion?
Or maybe you are trying to protect yourself from the pain of others by ignoring the sorrow around you?
Either way, God expects us to be connected with people around us. This is the best way to cater to the needs that cause pain and sorrow.
And oftentimes, in helping to bear the burden of others, we help ourselves in the process.
God will do unusual and crazy things to interrupt and change your situation
Jesus always seemed to do the strangest things. He did things that almost always caused displeasure among the pious religious folks.
First of all, Jesus went and interrupted a Jewish funeral. This was not acceptable behavior. A proper Jew knew that the expected behavior was just to join the funeral procession. But Jesus didn’t do that. He brought the entire thing to a stand still.
Then He touched the coffin. When Jesus touched the coffin of the dead young man, this was completely against the Jewish laws.
Anyone out in the open who touches someone who has been killed with a sword or someone who has died a natural death, or anyone who touches a human bone or a grave, will be unclean for seven days. Numbers 19:16
Jesus was supposed to have days of uncleanness. But, situations do not convert Jesus. When he shows up, He converts the situation, no matter what it is.
Jesus clearly didn’t care about what the customs were. Jesus just cared about the woman whose life was about to get much harder. He was focused on bringing a solution to a desperate situation.
God isn’t in the business of getting tangled in traditional belief systems. His goal is to minister to your most desperate need.
In God’s book, people will always come before policies and practices.
The Pharisees and the Scribes were so bent on keeping these laws which were not a part of the 10 commandments.
Sometimes religious people are so passionate about laws and rules that they forget to love people.
For them, keeping the rules becomes more important than having compassion.
God will always care about you first. Not man-made rules. He is still the God who defies man-made rules to cater to your needs and save your soul.
God is very intentional about dealing with your situation
During a funeral process like this, the mother of the deceased would be walking in front of the coffin.
She would be surrounded by weeping, wailing mourners. Sometimes, these mourners would be paid to weep and wail in a certain way.
Jesus approached her with compassion and says, “Don’t weep”.
The word that Jesus used to describe her crying does not mean the quiet, stifled kind. The Greek word he used means a kind of weeping that’s loud, gut-wrenching, blood-curdling kind of cry.
We have already discussed why this death was such a terrible loss. But isn’t Jesus insensitive for telling her not to weep?
Well, the next thing He does in the story tells us that He’s not being insensitive.
The Bible says Jesus touched the coffin. To our modern eye, this doesn’t mean much. So let me explain a little.
In this instance, the Greek word for touch means to put your hand on something with the intention of changing it.
Did you get that?
Jesus was very intentional about this situation. He didn’t interrupt the funeral for the sake of nothing. He didn’t seem to offend her just because He could.
Jesus put His hand on the coffin because He was about to change the whole story unfolding in front of everyone.
Know that when Jesus shows up in your situation, He’s not coming just to observe. He brings with Him some intentionality. He’s coming with a sure plan to solve your problem. He’s coming to speak life over it.
God’s word is powerful
Jesus used his words to call the dead man back to life. He did not have to use any antics. No magic tricks were pulled. We see this power from the beginning.
At creation, He spoke and things appeared. Light, land, vegetation. All jumped out of the darkness that existed.
When Jesus was on a boat with His disciples and a storm rose out of the blue, He spoke to the winds and waves.
Immediately, everything stopped.
When the Syrophenecian Woman came to Jesus for a miracle for her dying daughter, she knew Jesus didn’t need to be physically in her house for her request to be granted.
Jesus just spoke the word right where He was sitting and her daughter was no longer sick.
God’s word isn’t any less powerful today. In fact, He has given us some of that same power to live our lives.
The apostles in the early church believed this with their whole hearts. In the book of Acts there are a number of amazing stories of miracles they performed. Everything from raising the dead to casting out demons.
Today, the enemy has lied to us and blinded our eyes to the power of God’s word to change a dead situation.
Believe His words my friend. And use His Word. There is power in it.
We have sure hope in Jesus
For those of us who have lost loved ones to death, this story gives us hope.
If you’re grieving, it can be very difficult to see how there is hope in this story. Afterall, your loved one is still dead, right?
Let me explain.
The same Jesus who raised this young man and Lazarus to life, is still the God of the resurrection.
Jesus promised to do the same thing he did for them at the end of time.
We have hope that we will see our loved ones again because of the promise of the resurrection.
And in this, we can have hope that death does not get to write the ending of the story. Death doesn’t get to have the last word.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed…The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 56-57)
FAQs about Nain in the Bible
Just to sweeten this study a little more, here are some answers to popular questions about Nain.
Where was Nain in the Bible?
Nain was a tiny, remote farming village. It would take an entire day to walk from Capernaum to Nain. It was about 6 miles from Nazareth where Jesus grew up. The town sat close to the Hill of Moreh.
What does Nain mean in the Bible
Nain means beautiful or lovely. It’s ironic since this story was not initially beautiful.
Final words on the Widow of Nain story in the Bible
The widow of Nain was one of the very blessed people in Scripture to have Jesus personally changed their lives. We can draw hope from her experience.
God’s words are still powerful to speak light over the darkness and life into the desperate situations in our life. God can do this because He knows what’s going on in our lives in very great detail.
And you know what? He is still moved with deep compassion. Jesus is still in the business of interrupting our lives and turning our lives right side up.