A Word for Today | Luke 7:11-17
With few exceptions, all the major figures in the Bible are found weeping at one time or another. Genesis 23 shows Abraham weeping over the death of his wife, Sarah. When Joseph’s brothers came begging food, not recognizing him as prince over Egypt, he broke down in tears (Gen. 42). Naomi cried with Ruth and Orpah at the cruel parting brought on by their widowhood (Ru. 1:9), and Hannah cried quietly in the house of the Lord over her barren womb (1 Sam. 1). But of all the sad figures in the Bible, there are few to rival the widow of Nain in Luke 7. Her only son had died and she was leading the procession for his burial. Luke tells us there was a large crowd going with her, and their loud wails surely fit the picture of this desolate woman. But Jesus was there and, approaching the widow, spoke words that the Bible directs to us all: “Weep no more” (Lk. 7:13).
The widow of Nain’s grief was no doubt emotional, but it also reflected her economic tragedy, with no men left in her family to provide. Her grief was also spiritual, since there would be no male heir to carry forth their family name until the Messiah came. Fortunately for her, however, the Messiah had already come and was present at the funeral. Luke 7:13 says that “when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’” This is what the gospel of Jesus Christ declares: a Savior who comes to the scene of death and weeping with compassion and comfort. What is more, Jesus comes with saving power, touching the dead body and commanding: “Young man, I say to you, arise” (Lk. 7:14). Martin Luther observed that this episode displays “the true nature of Christ’s work, showing why he came and reigns, namely, that he might destroy death and in its stead give life, as the prophet Isaiah, 25:8, says: ‘He will swallow up death forever.’”
Luke’s Gospel presents this event as a picture of Christ’s whole saving work, giving life to the dead. The Bible says that we all are as spiritually dead as the widow’s son on the bier: “You were dead in transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:2). But Jesus came to raise those who are dead in sin to life in Himself: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” (Eph. 2:2-5). If you will confess your sin and need, and then trust in Christ, this miracle will happen in your life now through the spiritual rebirth, from the death of unbelief to the new life of faith. And at the end of the age, you will rise up with the blessed of the Lord and enter into life everlasting with Jesus, the Lord of life.
Like all the great Bible heroes, times of weeping will likely come to each of us. God’s answer to the tears of sorrow is found in the compassion and power of Jesus Christ. For the day will come when Jesus returns and not only says, “Weep no more,” but “God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes” (Rev. 17:17). In fact, looking at Jesus now and knowing our gospel hope can serve to dry our tears. The people of Nain cried out, “God has visited his people!” (Lk. 7:16). He has visited us as well through God’s Word, and His compassion places a song of joy on every grieving heart.
In Christ’s Love,
 Martin Luther: Sermons of Martin Luther: The Church Postils, ed. John Nicholas Lenker, v. 5, Grand Rapids, Baker, 1983, 146.