Revelations from the Word

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Jesus and the widow of Nain

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"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 boy was being carried out, the only son of his mother; 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 [egeiro]. So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented [didomi] him to his mother. Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, A great prophet has risen [egeiro] up among us; and, God has visited His people. And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region" (Luke 7:11-17).

The passage about the wedding at Cana shows us Mary, the mother of Jesus, was probably a widow by then for it makes no mention of His father Joseph as the head of the family (John 2:1-2). So Jesus was moved by the situation of this widow of Nain, by the distress that she was feeling, but also because He knew that His own mother, Mary, would soon know this same suffering. That is why He was moved with compassion for this widow of Nain who had lost her only son. Jesus knew that His mother kept all the words pronounced by Simeon, full of the Holy Spirit, in her heart, "Behold this child is destined to bring the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to become a sign which will provoke dispute (and a sword that will pierce your own soul) and the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed" (Luke 2:34-35).

The Greek verb egeiro means 'to rise, wake up, resurrect'; the angel addressed Mary Magdalene in this way, "He is not here: He is risen [egeiro], as he had said" (Matthew 28:6). In the resurrection of the only son of the widow of Nain, Jesus prefigured the resurrection of the only Son of God. As Jesus gave [didomi] the son of Nain to his mother by giving him back his life, God gave [didomi] His Son to the world (John 3:16) in order that it might receive eternal life. That is why through this act, the people considered Jesus as a great prophet, "A great prophet has appeared [egeiro, is raised] among us and God has visited His people". The people who had not heard God speak for 400 years, since Malachi, therefore considered Jesus as a divine resurrection in the spiritual desert in which they were living.

Although Jesus also had brothers and sisters by Mary and Joseph (Matthew 13:55-56), it was to His close friend, John, that He entrusted His mother, when He was on the cross (John 19:25-27). As Jesus was the unique Son of Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit, He therefore entrusted His mother to the one who was closest to Him, the one who was spiritually able to fulfil the task. In the same way, Jesus entrusts the most delicate tasks to those who are His close friends.