A look at the four accounts in the Gospels of people who were raised from the dead.
ONE DAY Jesus and a large crowd of followers went to a town called Nain. Today there is a small village with a very similar name a few miles south of Nazareth, the place where Jesus grew up. This is the only time in the Gospels where this place Nain is mentioned.
Just as he was entering the town he was met by a very sad sight. A funeral procession was leaving the town, obviously on the way to a burial. This was a particularly unhappy funeral, because it was a young man who had died, and he was the son of a widow. In those days of course there was no government financial help for widows, or funerals, and so the mother would now be totally destitute.
The Lord Jesus immediately recognised these facts, and when he saw the mother weeping it touched his heart, and we read that ‘he had compassion on her’ (Luke 7:13).
Some other versions of the Bible say, ‘his heart went out to her’. Jesus, the Son of God, understood the way ordinary people thought and behaved, and he demonstrated the power and the love of God in showing sympathy for such unfortunate folk. Of course Jesus is still the same today. He has not changed, and we can be sure that he understands us and appreciates our problems just as he did when he was on earth.
Jesus approached the bier and touched it, and the bearers stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise’ (v. 14). And to the amazement of everyone, the dead man sat up and started to talk. And amidst huge astonishment from the onlookers Jesus then gave him back to his mother.
The people were both afraid and stunned. The result? ‘Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!”’ (v. 16).
The little town of Nain was in the northern province of Galilee, and the Gospel account says ‘this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country’ (v. 17). Judea is the province in the south, so this marvellous news of another resurrection soon spread throughout the land of Israel.
And marvellous news it was! Death is the ultimate punishment which has overtaken mankind, ever since the first man and woman Adam and Eve.
It was right back in the Garden of Eden when God sentenced man and woman to death because they had sinned. God would not allow sinners to live for ever—and I’m sure we can understand that, it means that horrid and treacherous people do not continue their crimes indefinitely.
We all know that we have a limited life span, so we really must make the best of every moment we have, for we never know exactly how much time we have left. In this story of the widow of Nain’s son there is no hint given as to whether this young man had done good or bad, but death shortened his life many years before he would have expected it. On this occasion it also left his widowed mother alone in the world.
A Fresh Start
The Lord Jesus was able to resurrect this young man, and so both he and his mother were given a fresh start. Neither the Lord God nor His Son have changed over the last 2000 years, and so if Jesus was able to raise the dead when he was on the earth the first time, surely when he returns to earth he will be able to raise from our graves those of us who have died. Indeed his own words bring this exactly into focus for us:
An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out (John 5:28–29).
And the lesson for us is obvious. Let us make our peace with God, and ask for our sins to be forgiven through Jesus. The Lord Jesus Christ described himself as ‘the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). So if we come to the Father in the way He requires—by belief, repentance and baptism—then the Saviour of the world will become our Saviour, and we can look forward to being raised to a new and wonderful everlasting life.
To be continued.