Widow of Nain

Luke 7:11-16

The last place I wanted to be was in another funeral procession, with my anguish laid bare in front of everyone. I was the center of attention, but all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and die myself. It was too much to go through this again — first my husband, then my only son. As we followed the funeral bier being carried through the streets of Nain, villagers came out of their shops and homes and joined the procession. Some were truly sympathetic. But others joined the flow of people out of duty, as they always did. They meant well — gazing at me and shaking their heads, they wondered what would happen to me now, with no husband, no son to provide for me.

“It was true. I would be destitute: a victim of an unscrupulous and uncaring system. But I no longer cared. Sobbing uncontrollably, it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. Just keep going, I told myself. Just keep walking.

“I remember that the noise of shuffling feet on the stone streets was strangely mesmerizing, helping numb my tormented brain to the reality of my loss. As we passed under the city gates, a man behind me gently touched my shoulder and said, ‘Don’t cry.’ Before I could turn to see who it was, he hurried past me. It was Jesus, the teacher from Galilee. He went right up to the bier and laid his hand on it. I felt the crowd shrink back in shock as they observed him ritually defile himself by touching a dead body — my son’s dead body. Those carrying the bier came to an abrupt halt, startled that someone had interrupted a funeral procession.

“Everyone, mourners and onlookers alike, stood still as Jesus, visibly moved with compassion, said ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ Immediately, my son sat up! I gasped. My heart stopped as I heard my son begin to speak. Staring at everyone around him, he blurted, ‘What’s going on?’

“My son had no idea what had happened. He thought he had just awakened from a dream. Recognizing some friends, he asked, ‘What happened to me?’ Stunned and speechless, his friends just stood there with their mouths open, watching a dead person talk to them! Jesus quickly loosened the white linen burial garments that had bound my son in death. Helping him off the bier, he put his arm around my boy and led him to my open arms. The shocked crowd of witnesses trembled with fear and awe, and glorified God, calling Jesus a great prophet.

“Afterwards, I often wondered, why me? As he came upon our sad procession that day, what compelled Jesus to dry a widow’s tears? Had he been thinking of his own impending death, of his widowed mother and how broken her heart would be as she watched her firstborn son die on a cross? I remember well that even in his last agonizing moments of life, Jesus, struggling for breath, comforted his mother, making sure she would be cared for. Maybe that’s why his heart went out to me. I can’t say for sure. I only know that, somehow, my pain was important to Jesus. He felt my grief, he knew my uncertain plight, and he redeemed my life and destiny by raising my only son from the dead.”

By Joyce Catherwood

Copyright 2007

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