One of the many amazing things I find of comfort about Jesus was his showing of compassion towards a multitude, a few, or even to just one lowly individual. It wasn’t based on whether one was a Jew or not, whether one had wealth or not, or whether one was well-known or a social outcast. Jesus, by example, taught us that everyone is somebody.
The above picture is that of a city called Nain in Galilee, not far from Capernaum. It is now a small village inhabited by Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
In one of Jesus’s travels, he visited this town along with his disciples and a large crowd who was following Him. (Luke 7:11-17) As he approached the town, he encounters a funeral procession. The dead person being carried out was the only son of his widowed mother. She must have had many who knew her and her son because there was a large number of the townsfolk with her.
The scripture tells us that when Jesus saw the widowed mother, His heart went out to her. He was so moved He spoke to her telling her not to cry. This one widow did not seek Jesus’s attention. He was the one who made the first move towards her.
After Jesus told the mother not to cry, He went up and touched the bier. I can picture this compassionate scene in my mind. Imagine! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the light of the world, taking time from his journey to speak to this one grieving mother and touch the coffin carrying her one and only child. The pall bearers stood still. Perhaps they sensed this was a special moment, one in which you could have heard a pin drop.
Jesus told the dead young man to get up. To the amazement of the witnesses, including the mother, the young man sat up and began to talk. The townsfolk surely had some questions for this young man who is one of the few in the Bible who returned from the grave to walk upon this earth again. The scripture does not let us in on what the young man said. Jesus gave him back to his mother’s waiting arms.
The many who witnessed this miracle rejoiced with the mother who had her only child back for a while longer. The people acknowledged that a great prophet had appeared among them. He was unlike any other man they ever knew. They didn’t keep it a secret either. Word of what they had witnessed spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
I am drawn to this story by the compassion Jesus showed to this one distressed widow. This wasn’t a case where the person in need sought out Jesus. She did not run out to Jesus or cried out for Him to give her back her son. It was Christ who saw her and her tears mattered to Him. He sought to remove those tears and return the most precious thing in her life — her boy.
This story takes me back to another story told to me by a dear friend from years ago. She was the oldest child of her mother who was a widow. At some point after her father’s death, mother and daughter decided to visit where my friend’s father grew up. It was a trip from the U.S. to some Canadian town across the border. Since it was a long trip, a day at least, they were both concerned. Before their loved one passed away, he was the one at the wheel on their Canadian trips. Now they were on their own…or so they thought.
As they were headed north to the border, they both smelled cigar smoke and neither of them smoked. The windows were all rolled up and so the smell did not come from the outside. It was a familiar scent to them both. The widow’s husband and my friend’s father was big on cigars and the smell was his favorite brand.
My friend can’t prove that there wasn’t a logical reason for the smell in their rolled-up car. Some might say they were imagining it. If so, they both imagined it at the same time. My friend and I agreed that it isn’t necessary to try to figure it out. The effect is what’s important. According to her, their trip was smooth-sailing from then on. The widow and her daughter took it as a sign from the other side of Heaven that they were not alone. The man they loved wasn’t completely lost to them. They’d see him again, but until then, he was okay and so were they.
The Lord does work in mysterious ways. He is still in the business of miracles for one or a multitude. Both these stories give me hope and comfort that I’m somebody to the Lord too. As someone once said, it isn’t that God is so far away that’s incredible, it’s that He is so NEAR!