Soon afterwards, Jesus went to a city called Nain. His disciples and a large crowd were going along with him. As he approached the entrance to the city, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he felt compassion for her. He said to her, “You can stop crying.” Then he went up and touched the open coffin, and the men who were carrying it stopped. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. Fear gripped everyone, and they began to praise God, saying, “A great prophet has appeared among us,” and “God has helped his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding countryside.Luke 7:11-17
This story is a story unique to Luke; Matthew, Mark and John don’t have this one in their gospels. Luke is only one who records the story. Nain is not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture apart from this story of Luke. I have never before paid any attention to this place called Nain. I have simply skipped over it up till now. But now as I am gemming Luke I have to practice what I preach. I have used E-Sword’s International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
persists to this day in the form of Nein clings to a small village on the northwestern slope of Jebel ed-Duḥy (“Hill of Moreh”), the mountain which, since the Middle Ages, has been known as Little Hermon. The modern name of the mountain is derived from Neby Duhy which crowns the height above the village. There are many ancient remains, proving that the place was once of considerable size. It was never enclosed by a wall, as some have thought from the mention of “the gate.” This was probably the opening between the houses by which the road entered the town. The ancient town perhaps stood somewhat higher on the hill than the present village. In the rocks to the East are many tombs of antiquity. The site commands a beautiful and extensive view across the plain to Carmel, over the Nazareth hills, and away past Tabor to where the white peak of Hermon glistens in the sun. To the South are the heights of Gilboa and the uplands of Samaria. The village, once prosperous, has fallen on evil days. It is said that the villagers received such good prices for simsum that they cultivated it on a large scale. A sudden drop in the price brought them to ruin, from which, after many years, they have not yet fully recovered.
From a source not available to you Nain is the modern Nen on the plain of Jezreel, 9.6 kms south south east of Nazareth on the northern edge of Little Hermon. It is close to Shunem where Elisha raised the boy from the dead. (2 King 4:21-37) Incidentally, its a 9 hour walk from Capernaum in case you are thinking of making the journey, walking in Jesus footsteps as it were. It doesn’t add greatly to our knowledge but we see that Nain fits right into the general area of Nazareth, Galilee and Capernaum. Luke has simply added a story that others have missed out. There is no reason to doubt the factuality of the story. It is a remarkable story; one worth telling. It extends the scope of who this Jesus is. He is indeed Lord, LORD. He heals the sick but not only does He heal the sick, He raises the dead. There are a number of raising the dead stories in the Gospels but this is a story which only Luke uses.
Remember the large crowd following Jesus. They have been following since the sermon on the plateau. Jesus can’t give them the slip (until He wants to); they follow His every move. As they all approached the town of Nain they met another crowd. This one was led by a woman who was walking before the funeral bier of her ONLY son. She is now destitute. Her husband had died and now her son has gone. This effectively cuts her off from all means of support. She was left now to fend for herself or rely on the mercy and kindness of her community, who in this case are accompanying her. A large crowd were with her just as a large crowd accompanied Jesus. There were numbers of burial caves outside of Nain on the north side of Little Hermon. You can see them there today. They were heading for one of them. This son had been dead for longer than the regulation three days. (See Gems 73–78) This young man was stinking like Lazarus. He was clearly dead. They are taking him to bury him. BUT Jesus . . !
The focus of the story is not the young man, it’s his mum. When the Lord saw her He had compassion on her. His pity and heart felt sorrow went out to her. He had just seen her but He knew her circumstances in the same way he knew all about the woman at the well in Sychar (John 4). He says first to the woman, “Don’t cry”. Then He walks up to bier and touches the open coffin. What a shock! Here is a prophet, preacher, teacher, messiah who ignores the Levitical injunction not to touch dead bodies or anything to do with them and touches the bier. Then he says “Young man, I say to you, get up!” what incredibly dramatic words. He treats this boy as though he were just asleep and tells him to wake up. Do you see how this story fits right in the one before it? With the Centurion’s servant it was all about SPEAKING THE WORD. Say the word and my servant will be healed. In a similar vein, just SAY THE WORD and the dead will be raised. Wow impressive stuff. He sits up and begins to speak. Again more words. And Jesus gives him back to his mum. It’s all about her; not him. Note the similarity between this incident and the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17:23. There are all these little links here and remember we are in Elijah / Elisha country.
Fear grips them, then praise. You work out the emotions and reactions involved. They are natural and ones I am sure we have all had at times. What is interesting is that they conclude “a prophet is among us” because Jesus is doing prophet-like-things in the context of the expectation of a coming prophet as Moses talked about. But then they conclude “God has visited us” as some translations put it. [episkeptomai] meaning visited speaks in the Old Testament of God’s intervention in human affairs either to save or to judge. Oh how right you people are. You just don’t know the half of it. [You will need to think more deeply about this]. Imagine the buzz that is going on between these two crowds. Imagine if some of them get together and swap stories. “Wow, you think this was good. We have been following Him since the sermon he preached on the plateau and we are getting an idea of who this guy is.” Is it any wonder that the news spreads with these two crowds sharing stories? But it is intriguing that the news spread to Judea and the surrounding countryside. But hang on a moment aren’t they up in the area of Galilee? Why does the news spread around Judea? You solve the problem. Next Gem we will move on. Don’t forget to pay attention to the detail that is there in the text. It is all there for a purpose.
Give Him your mess and let it become your message.Joyce Meyer
It’s not how long you live, but how well you live that counts.Anon
Dread of death ends when you know heaven is your true home.Max Lucado
Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly.Anon