‘What’s in a Nain? – Raising the Widow’s Son (Luke 7:11-17)
Every detail in the Gospel stories carries various degrees of meaning and clues.
What’s in a Nain? Nain is a very small town just about 14/5 miles south of Nazareth.
Both towns overlook the notorious Valley of Jezreel.
‘Jezreel’ a combination of two words: ‘Almighty’ and ‘Sow’. i.e. ‘God Sows’.
Which sounds rather lovely.
But in the Old Testament, terrible events happened here:
- Jezebel was thrown out of the tower and eaten by dogs.
- Ahab murdered Naboth and stole his vineyard.
- Ahab’s sons were beheaded.
- Deborah defeated Sisera.
- Saul defeats the Philistines.
- Egypt defeated King Josiah.
- It is also next to Endor where Saul consulted a Medium before battle.
It’s looking pretty grim.
And so Jesus went to Nain, where God will sow life and Jesus will defeat death.
He meets the funeral cortege, and sees the grieving mother and the dead son (a man).
Jesus knew all about widows. His own mother was likely one.
But Jesus goes to war.
“Do not weep” is not a mere avoidance of emotions; a stoic response to suffering.
But rather a ‘Watch and see’ instruction.
“If you’re blubbing, how will you see what I’m doing through all that water pouring off your face?”
Now while the location is significant, Jesus brings fulfilment-meaning to the Law of Moses.
He touches the open coffin, a bier, in absolute defiance of Num. 19:21-22.
This would bring the penalty of one day of uncleanness.
Touching a corpse brings the penalty of a week of uncleanness (Num. 5:2-3; 19:11-20).
Jesus commands life and wholeness: “Young man – I say to you – get up!”
Raising the dead was rare, but everyone would know about Elijah and Elisha.
Jesus was now fighting on four fronts:
- The obvious and actual physical fact that a funeral was taking place.
- That Jesus doesn’t ignore but transcends the Torah:
- Touching the bier and
- Saying ‘I say to you’.
- He adds to the evidence and proof of a genuine prophet.
- The dead man rose. What was dead was now alive.
So now, in Nain, a name that means beauty, Jesus does something beautiful.
A town on the edge of Jezreel, a place where great evil and suffering have taken place;
A place that means ‘God Sows’ Jesus now sows life.
And when it is God at work, it is we that reap what we do not sow.
Where the sin of ugliness is well known, Jesus brings Divine beauty.
Where death reigns, Jesus brings Life.
What’s in a Nain? Nothing but the Truth, Goodness and Beauty of God heaven-bent on Loving us.