Luke 7:11

The mutual respect shown here by Jew and Roman is very pleasing, and the more so that it was so rare. Disdain rather than regard, hatred rather than affection, characterized both peoples; and it is a very agreeable change to find so different a state of mind. Here the Roman loves the Jewish nation, and the elders of the Jews come out to serve the Roman. The plea which they present to Christ, that out of attachment to their nation he had built them a synagogue, was very forcible, and it did not fail. The conjunction of the two clauses of the text suggests the close connection between piety and patriotism.

I. OUR INDEBTEDNESS TO THE RELIGION OF OUR NATIVE LAND, The centurion loved the nation, and why? The Jew had one thing to give the Roman, and that was a very great thing. Civilization, military science, and law, were of the Roman; but "salvation was of the Jews" (John 4:22). This Roman, who probably saw many things in Galilee that he pitied, found something that first surprised, then convinced, then satisfied and ennobled him - he found a true theology and a pure morality. With this he found rest of soul, domestic purity, health and sweetness of life; he became another man, and lived another life. He was indebted to the religion of this country of his adoption. What do we owe to the religion of the land in which we were born? How much more do we owe to the Christianity we have learned in England than the centurion (of the text) owed to the Judaism he learned in Galilee! Our holy faith, taught us in childhood and impressed upon us through all our days, has brought into our view a heavenly Father, a Divine Saviour and Friend, a Holy Spirit and Comforter, a blessed service, a godly brotherhood, a noble life, a glorious hope of immortal blessedness. What shall we render to the country of our birth which has trained us in such truths as these?

II. OUR BEST ACKNOWLEDGMENT. This man "loved the nation and built them a synagogue." What better thing could he do than this? What kindlier or truer service could he render them? Those synogogues had been the homes of devotion and the sources of sacred instruction for four hundred years, and they had rendered inestimable service to the nation. The influences which radiated from them had kept the people loyal to their faith, and had preserved in them all the better qualities they possessed. And what can we do to serve the country which has nourished us in the faith of Christ? We can do all that lies in our power to promote its material prosperity, to secure its freedom, to extend its knowledge and intelligence. But, these not being left undone, there is one thing more which is greater than these - we can promote its piety. By so doing we shall serve it in the highest sphere; we shall be doing that which will gain for it the favour of Almighty God; we shall be indirectly serving it in all other ways, for the children of God will be the best citizens of their country in any and every department of human action. And how shall we best promote the piety of our land?

1. By living a devout and upright life in our own humble sphere.

2. By making known, in all open ways, the distinctive truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

3. By supporting the institutions which are closely connected with it - its edifices, its societies, its homes. - C.

And it came to pass the day after that He went into a city called Nain.
The miracle requires a few REMARKS and a few REFLECTIONS.

I. The first thing we behold is a FUNERAL PROCESSION. But let us draw near, and contemplate this funeral solemnity. It was the funeral of a young man. We are not informed whether he died by disease or accident, slowly or suddenly; but he was carried off in the prime of life. He was the "only son of his mother." There is an ocean of love in the hearts of parents towards their children. But what closes the melancholy tale of this woman is — that she was a widow! A widow is always an affecting character, and she is liable to injustice and oppression from those fiends who take advantage of weakness and distress; as she is deprived of the companion of her journey, and compelled to travel alone; as her anxieties are doubled: and there is none to share them with her.

II. OBSERVE OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR. First, He knew all the particulars of the case. Those who were with Him could only see, as they were passing by, a funeral — but He knew the corpse stretched upon the bier; He knew that it was a young man; that it was the only son of his mother; and that she was a widow! Secondly, He did not wait to be implored. "I am found of them that sought Me not." Sometimes, before we call He answers: such a very present help is He in trouble. Thirdly, When He saw her, He had "compassion on her." By nothing was our Saviour more distinguished than by pity and tenderness. Fourthly, He "said unto her, Weep not." How unavailing, not to say impertinent, would this have been from any other lips! Fifthly, Jesus, without any ostentatious ceremony, " went and touched the bier — and they that bare it stood still"; all amazement and expectation! Every eye is fixed upon Him. Finally, observe the application, the delicacy — what shall I call it? — of the miracle; and "He delivered him to his mother!"

III. Let us conclude by three GENERAL REFLECTIONS.

I. WHAT A VALE OF TEARS IS THIS WORLD! HOW various and numerous are the evils to which human life is exposed! "Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble!"

II. LET THE AFFLICTED REMEMBER THAT THEY ARE NOT LEFT WITHOUT RESOURCE. Let them learn where to flee in the day of trouble. It is to the Friend of sinners.

III. WHAT THINK YOU OF CHRIST? Does not His character combine every excellency and attraction?

(W. Jay.)

I. I notice first THAT THIS YOUNG MAN IS FOLLOWED BY A BROKENHEARTED MOTHER, A POOR SORROWFUL CREATURE. He was her only son, and she was a widow. Do you know I cannot help thinking that one often sees the same sort of thing now. How many a young man there is who is being borne along towards that fearful interment to which I have already referred, who is followed, as it were, by the tears and expostulations — I may say the anguish, the heart-breaking anguish — of one who loves him as her own soul, and who would readily offer a thousand times over her own life, if only his soul might be saved. Young man, there are a good many fellows who think it a manly thing to slight a mother's love, to go far to break a mother's heart. Believe me, there is scarcely a more unmanly sin possible for anybody to commit. Amongst the saddest incidents in my experience as a mission preacher are cases of this character, where I am addressed by mournful-looking women, who come to me with a terrible burden on their hearts. I ask what it is. It is not about themselves. No! no! so far as they themselves are concerned, they have a good hope through grace. "Well, what is the matter?" "Oh, it is my boy," says the poor stricken creature, "my boy." How many are ready to say, as David said about Absalom, "Would God I had died for thee." Some little time ago, I had a conversation after one of my services with a minister of the gospel, in the North of England, who said to me, "I want to tell you about my son, who is just going to offer himself for the Christian ministry. He had a remarkable conversion, and I should like to tell you about it. Two years ago my dear wife died, and as she was dying, she called her children around her. As they approached her bed one by one, she stretched out her hand and took theirs in hers, and very solemnly, for she was on the brink of eternity, she said to them, 'I charge ye before God, meet me at God's right hand.' When it came to the turn of my eldest son, I saw that she was greatly moved, for up to that time he had shown no disposition to give his heart to God. She grasped his hand in hers and said, with tears in her eyes, 'My boy, ere I die, I want you to make me a promise; I want you solemnly to promise me that you will seek for the salvation of your soul.' He hesitated, and stood silent for a few moments, hanging down his head. When he lifted up his eyes he met his mother's gaze. That deep, tender, earnest gaze seemed to plead with his inmost heart. 'I charge you,' she said, 'meet me at God's right hand.' 'Mother,' he said, 'I will; I will.' Her face brightened up; a heavenly smile stole over her features; she lifted up her hands and said, 'Thank God, I am ready to go now.' Well, she died. My son remembered his promise. He began to read his Bible and to pray, and the Lord was pleased to send him a very deep conviction of sin. He became intensely wretched. Weeks passed away. Still he could get no comfort. Weeks became months. He could not shake the subject from his mind. The weight of his sin was continually resting upon his soul, and seemed almost to drive him wild, till on one occasion he found himself in such a state of frenzied agony, that he felt 'I really can stand this no longer," and suddenly grasping his hat, he dashed out with a determination to drown his sorrows in drink at the nearest gin-house. Down the street he went, and up to the door of the public-house. Just as he stood at the door and was stretching out his hand to open it, it seemed to him as though his mother stood before him. There was the same look upon her countenance that it wore when she took leave of him on her dying bed, and he seemed to see those tears glistening in her eyes. It was no vision, but the thing was so powerfully brought before his imagination, that it was like a vision, and he seemed to hear her saying, 'My son, your promise!' 'I turned,' he said, 'and fled from the public-house as though I were pursued: I dashed into my own room. 'Great God! I cried, 'Thou hast saved me by my mother's prayer; Thou hast saved me from the depths of hell! There and then I cast myself in utter weariness and helplessness and self-despair at Jesus' feet, and there and then the pardoning love of Christ reached my heart.'"

II. Well, there was something more that the eye of Christ rested upon besides this poor broken-hearted woman to whom He said, "Weep not." THERE WERE THE BEARERS. NOW this also, as it seems to me, is wonderfully true to life. Wherever I go I find that young men are mostly under the influence of bearers. I know what your strong points are, young men, yes, and I know your weak points too. You are wonderfully gregarious animals. One man goes in one particular direction, and the rest must follow if he happens to be a leader. There is a strange fatuous influence which man exercises over his fellow-man. Ah, my brother, how many a man is as it were held spell-bound by the influence of false friendship. Get him away from his friends and you can do something with him; but so long as he is in their society he is a helpless slave to adverse influences. Yes, I may be speaking to some to-night who, although only young, are already saying, "I have gone too far; the chains are bound too tightly round me." I tell you no, in God's name, No! One touch of almighty power from the finger of Christ, and those chains shall break; one glance from those eyes so full of beneficence, and the shadows of death shall flee away. I remember, some time ago, hearing a remarkable circumstance related by a public speaker to whom I was listening. It happened that a ship was being towed across the Niagara River, in America, some little distance above the well-known falls. Just as she got into the middle of the stream the hawser parted, and the unfortunate ship began to drift down the river stern foremost. Efforts were made to save her from impending ruin, but every effort failed, and the unfortunate ship kept drifting farther and farther down the stream towards the terrible abyss below. The news of the disaster spread along the banks of the river, and in a very short time there were hundreds of people, and they soon swelled to thousands, looking on in breathless anxiety to see what was to become of this unfortunate ship and crew. There is a point that stretches into the river which bears the name of Past Redemption Point, and it is believed in the neighbourhood that nothing that passes that point can escape destruction. The current there becomes so strong, the influence so fatal, that whatever goes by Past Redemption Point is inevitably lost. The excited multitude upon the banks of the river watched the helpless ship drifting down farther and farther till she was within a few hundred yards of the fatal point. One effort after another was made, one effort after another failed; still she drifted. Only a few moments, and she passed the point. There was a kind of sigh of horror from the vast multitude as they saw her swing round, for they knew she was lost. But just as she rounded the point the captain felt a strong breeze smite upon his cheek. Quick as thought he shouted at the top of his voice, "All sails set!" and in almost less time than it takes me to tell it every stitch of canvas on board the ship was stretched to catch the favouring gale. A cheer broke from the multitude on the shore as they witnessed this last effort for salvation. But would it succeed? The ship was still drifting, though the wind was blowing against it, and she was still moving downwards, stern fore. most, though the wind was bellying out all her sails. It was a battle between the wind and the current. With breathless anxiety they watched the result. She slacks! Another moment — they scarcely dare whisper it — she stands! Yes, that terrible downward course was actually stopped. There she was, still as a log upon the water. Another moment, and inch by inch she began to forge her way up the stream until the motion was perceptible to those on shore, and one great shout of victory burst forth from a thousand voices: "Thank God, she is saved! Thank God, she is saved!" In a few moments more, with considerable headway upon her, she swept right up the stream, by Past Redemption Point, right into the still water, saved from what appeared to he inevitable destruction, just because, in the very moment of moments, she caught the favouring breeze. Young man, in that ship behold a picture of yourself. There is many a young man who, like that ship, has been drifting. You know it; ah! and your friends know it; your mother, praying for you to-night, knows it; your Christian friend that brought you here knows it. You are drifting, drifting, and you know what the end must be. It may lie far on in your life's voyage, or it may be very near at hand, but before you lies the terrible fall, and the abyss and depth of doom. If you say, "How shall I arise?" I reply, there is only one way of arising. Fix your gaze to-night upon Him who is the Resurrection and the Life. When I was a young man of eighteen, I was preaching in the open air in the streets of Inverness, when there happened to pass by a young medical student — I think, from Glasgow University. He was like many of you, and had been living an aimless, self-pleasing sort of life. As he passed by in the crowd he heard a young man's voice, and caught the words of Christ, "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." The message went home like an arrow to the man's heart; he got away into his own chamber, and there he cast himself by his bedside and exclaimed, "O God, that is what I want. Up to this moment my life has been a wasted life; I have nothing to show for it; I have lived for myself; I have lived in vain. I see it all now. There is one power, and only one, that can raise me up and make me really what I ought to be." There and then he gave himself to Christ, and he went forth from that room a new man. He had just received a commission as a surgeon in the army, and soon afterwards he went to India, where, for five or six years, he was a burning and a shining light. Many a poor heathen native heard the truth of the gospel first from his lips; many a godless English soldier was led to the Cross of Christ by that young man's influence; many a brother officer first heard from him the glad tidings of great joy, or, at any rate, first had them pressed home upon his mind. After five or six years' service, the Lord called him home. I never met him, never shook his hand. I hope to meet him up yonder, some day.

(W. Hay Aitken.)


1. This miracle attests that He was an authorized messenger of God. This was the direct and immediate conviction that it wrought upon those who witnessed it. "There came great fear upon all; and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us, and, That God hath visited His people." Nor were they mistaken in their conclusion from the premises. No one can recall the dead but by the great power of God. Only He who originally gave life can restore it after it is gone.

2. The same forcibly attests the compassionate sympathy of Jesus for human sorrow.

3. And He is as mighty as He is good — as able to help as He is ready to pity. It is no easy thing to console and heal a broken heart. But Jesus not only relieved it, but entirely removed it. In a mere moment of time He dislodged it, and set a light in that darkened mother's soul, brighter than had ever shone there before. This miracle accordingly shows Him possessed of redeeming power, as well as sympathy.


1. Jesus found this young man dead, and being borne to burial. And herein is shown the sad and hopeless condition of everyone apart from Christ's gracious interposition for our rescue. The help of man in such a case is utterly powerless. If it were a case of mere physical disorder, the great storehouses of nature might perhaps furnish a remedy. If it were a case of mere functional lethargy or error, some stimulant or alternative might chance to be found out by the physician to correct the ailment. Or if it were a case of mere mental aberration, science and a better philosophy might serve to set the matter right. But the case is one of death; and no power of man has ever been able to bring the dead to life again.

2. "He came." There was no going or bearing of the dead man to Christ; but a coming of Jesus to him. The first approaches of grace and salvation are all from the side of a Divine movement toward us. From first to last, He is ever the coming One, who comes to us, approaches us, and brings to us whatever of salvation is ever experienced. "Lo! I come!"

3. "And touched the bier." Not without veritable contact with the polluted things of earth could spiritual quickening be imparted to its fallen inhabitants.

4. Yet it was by the Word that the resuscitation was imparted. "He said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." All the potency of creatorship and resurrection resides in it, and goes forth through it. People often have a very poor appreciation of the Word. They care not to hear it. Many only despise it. Christ's words are spirit, and they are life.

5. When Christ's word of command reached the consciousness of this dead man, it then devolved upon him to obey it. Human agency and volition must, after all, cooperate with Divine grace.


1. It was a raising of a dead man to life, and so an exhibition of resurrection power. To raise one requires the power of God; to raise all requires no more. He has raised the dead, and He can raise all.

2. It was the making glad of a very sorrowing heart and a very desolate home.

(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)




(R. V. Pryce, M. A. , LL. B.)

What, then, is the comfort which even now the gospel of our Saviour mingles with the mourning of His people? What advantage has the Christian under bereavement, and wherein does he sorrow not as others?

I. In the first place, THE GOSPEL HAS ENTIRELY CHANGED THE CHARACTER OF DEATH TO THE DEPARTED THEMSELVES. Thank God, the Christian's is a stingless death. Since the guilt of those we mourn was cleansed in the blood of Christ, and their pardon sealed by the Holy Ghost, death did not come to them as an officer of justice, but as an angel of peace. He came to loose the prison-bands of clay and set them free to go home to their Father's house. O selfish heart, bear silently thy burden and rejoice in secret at the lost one's joy. Why should I not? Love is more gladdened by another's gladness than grieved for its own trouble. God did two kindnesses at one stroke when He bereft you of your beloved: one kindness to him; another kindness to you. To him, the perfecting of character and bestowal of bliss; to you, ripening of character and preparation for bliss.

II. As Christ teaches us to expect a "better resurrection" for our dead, so also for ourselves to look for better reunion. Not by their coming back to be for a little while longer with us, is the craving heart to be appeased, but by our going to be for ever with them. This is best.

(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

I. I learn two or three things from this subject; and first, that Christ was A MAN. You see how that sorrow played upon all the chords of His heart.

II. But I must also draw from this subject that HE was GOD. If Christ had been a mere mortal, would He have had a Tight to come in upon such a procession? Would He have succeeded in His interruption?

III. Again, I learn from this subject that Christ was A SYMPATHISER.

IV. I learn again from all this that Christ is THE MASTER OF THE GRAVE. Just outside the gate of the city Death and Christ measured lances, and when the young man rose, Death dropped.

(Dr. Talmage.)

I. I shall ask you first, dear friends, to reflect that THE SPIRITUALLY DEAD CAUSE GREAT GRIEF TO THEIR GRACIOUS FRIENDS. If an ungodly man is favoured to have Christian relatives, he causes them much anxiety. Many young persons who are in some respects amiable and hopeful, nevertheless, being spiritually dead, are causing great sorrow to these who love them best.

1. The cause of grief lies here: we mourn that they should be in such a case. In the story before us the mother wept because her son was dead; and we sorrow because our young friends are spiritually dead.

2. We also mourn because we lose the help and comfort which they ought to bring us. She must have regarded him as the staff of her age, and the comfort of her loneliness. With regard to you that are dead in sin, we feel that we miss the aid and comfort which we ought to receive from you in our service of the living God.

3. A further grief is that we can have no fellowship with them. The mother at Nain could have no communion with her dear son now that he was dead, for the dead know not anything. Alas! in many a household the mother cannot have communion with her own son or daughter on that point which is most vital and enduring, because they are spiritually dead, while she has been quickened into newness of life by the Holy Spirit.

4. Moreover, spiritual death soon produces manifest causes for sorrow.

5. We also mourn because of the future of men dead in sin.

II. Now let me cheer you while I introduce the second head of my discourse, which is this: FOR SUCH GRIEF THERE IS ONLY ONE HELPER: BUT THERE IS A HELPER. This young man is taken out to be buried; but our Lord Jesus Christ met the funeral procession. Carefully note the "coincidences," as sceptics call them, but as we call them "providences" of Scripture. He meets the dead man before the place of sepulture is reached. A little later and he would have been buried; a little earlier and he would have been at home lying in the darkened room, and no one might have called the Lord's attention to him, The Lord knows how to arrange all things; his forecasts are true to the tick of the clock.

III. That hush was not long, for speedily the Great Quickener entered upon his gracious work. This is our third point: JESUS IS ABLE TO WORK THE MIRACLE OF LIFE-GIVING. JESUS Christ has life in Himself, and He quickeneth whom lie will (John 5:21). He could derive no aid from that lifeless form. The spectators were sure that he was dead, for they were carrying him out to bury him. Even so, you, O sinner, cannot save yourself, neither can any of us, or all of us, save you. Your help must come from above.

2. While the bier stood still, Jesus spoke to the dead young man, spoke to him personally: "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." Lord Jesus, art Thou not here? What is wanted is Thy personal call. Speak, Lord, we beseech Thee!

3. "Young man," said He, "arise"; and He spake as if the man had been alive. This is the gospel way. Our faith enables us in God's name to command dead men to live, and they do live.

4. But the Saviour, you observe, spoke with His own authority — "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." Neither Elijah nor Elisha could thus have spoken; but He who spoke thus was very God of very God.

5. The miracle was wrought straightway: for this young man, to the astonishment of all about him, sat up. It did not take a month, nor a week, nor an hour, nay, not even five minutes.

IV. Our time has gone, and although we have a wide subject we may not linger. I must close by noticing that THIS WILL PRODUCE VERY GREAT RESULTS. To give life to the dead is no little matter.

1. The great result was manifest, first, in the young man.

2. A new life also had begun in reference to his mother. What a great result for her was the raising of her dead son!

3. What was the next result? Well, all the neighbours feared and glorified God. These prodigies of power in the moral world are quite as remarkable as prodigies in the material world. We want conversion, so practical, so real, so Divine, that those who doubt will not be able to doubt, because they see in them the hand of God.

4. Finally, note that it not only surprised the neighbours and impressed them, but the rumour of it went everywhere. Who can tell? If a convert is made this morning, the result of that conversion may be felt for thousands of years, if the world stands so long; aye, it shall be felt when a thousand thousand years have passed away, even throughout eternity.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

1. The mystery of God's providence is encircling our daily lives. God had planned that meeting from eternity. Nothing happens by chance. Every event in the dullest day has a purpose.

2. And a further consideration must of course be our dear Lord's tender sympathy with mourners, and His hatred of our last enemy, death.

(T. B. Dover, M. A.)

Such were the works of our Saviour's earthly ministry; and it is of no little moment that we enter fully into their significance. By them, then

(1)He manifested forth His glory; they were the countersigns and credentials of His mission. By them

(2)again, He showed the infinite compassion wherewith His heart was full. By them

(3)He lightened the burden of human suffering. Further

(4)they are the abiding witness to the Church of the truth of His Divinity.These mighty works bring before us the true glory of our redeemed state. They show us, in the person of our Lord, for what each one of us is training who of His mercy have been baptized into Him, and are daily seeking to grow up into Him in all things. They show us why and how we should strive after a closer union with Him; that we, too, may triumph with Him over these rebellious powers, under which our race has so long groaned. For He is the healer of our spirits as He is of our bodies. Here, too, His words are "spirit and are life"; for with them goeth forth the mighty Spirit of life. He meets us bearing forth our dead hopes through the city's gate; He meets us when our hearts are faint and weary; when we feel the emptiness of all with which this world has sought to cheat our earnest longings for the great, the real, and the true. He stands beside the bier, He bids us weep no more, He stops our mourning steps; the dead hear Him; hopes of youth, aspirations of heart, dreams of purity, of reality, of high service, with which once our spirits kept glad company, but which had withered, and sunk, and died, as the hot and scorching sun of common life arose upon us — these revive; they sit up; they begin to speak; they find a voice; they turn to Him; and He gives them back to us, and bids us cherish them for Him. On Him, then, may our affections fix. On Him, the Healer, the Restorer of humanity, may our hearts learn to lean the secret burden of their being.

1. If earthly trouble is upon us, let us fly to Him; let us beware of all those who would cheer us without Him; let us be always sure that the poison of the asp is hidden under their softest and most enticing words.

2. Or, is it the heavier burden of spiritual trouble under which we groan? Let us see here that His purpose is the same. For why does God suffer this to harass oftentimes His faithful servants, but to teach them to lean more simply upon Him?

(Bishop Samuel Wilberforce.)

There is something specially touching and impressive in a village funeral. In a small population every family is known; and death, when it enters, throws a general sadness and gloom around. There were several things that combined to make this funeral peculiarly affecting.

1. Raise up for a moment the sheet that is spread over the corpse (for the coffin is borne on an open bier), and look on that pale countenance — it is the face of a young man. Perhaps it was consumption that laid its withering hand upon him, or fever may have snapped the thread of life; but there he is, cold, motionless, and still. I think death never seems so utterly cruel, as whoa it cuts one off in the bloom of opening manhood. And yet, mysterious as is the event, and deeply affecting, it is no uncommon one. It occurs every week in London. Even in this church I have seen some of the most bright and promising lives suddenly brought to a close. Your youthful strength gives you no guarantee that death is far away. Nobody steps out of the world when he expects to do so. Though for twenty years you have never had an ache or a pain, you can make no safe calculation about the future. A fine, amiable, robust fellow of twenty, who used to worship here, was sitting in his office one day, when a fellow-clerk came up merrily, and slapping him upon the back, said, "Well, how are you this morning?" That good-humoured blow injured the spine, and after some weeks of almost total paralysis, the young man was borne to his last resting-place.

2. There is another thing that adds much to the impressiveness of this funeral: the young man is an only son. Well, I imagine that, let a family circle be ever so large, the parents feel there is not one of them that can be spared. Every one is dear, every one is precious. A rich and benevolent gentleman, who had no children of his own, was entering a steamboat one day, when he noticed a poor man with a group of little ones around him, all in a state of pitiful destitution. Stepping up to him, he proposed to take one of the children, and adopt it as his own. "I think," said he, "it will be a great relief to you." "A what!" exclaimed the other. "A relief to you, I said." "Such a relief to me, sir," rejoined the poor man, "as to have my right arm cut off; it may be necessary, but only a parent can know the trial." But, an only son, in whom all the hopes and the joys of the parents centre: ah! it is long since the extreme bitterness of such a bereavement passed into a proverb (Zechariah 12:10).

3. I have not yet finished the picture. You will not wonder that this funeral created exceptional sympathy, and that "much people" of Nain joined the procession, when I remind you that this young man's mother was a widow. The light of her dwelling was now put out; the comfort and support of her advancing years taken away. No doubt he had been a good son, or his death would not have created so profound a feeling in the place.

4. With Dr. Trench, I believe that this majestic voice was something more than a summons back to this mortal life — that it included also an awakening of the young man to a higher and a spiritual life; with nothing short of which would the Saviour have "delivered him to his mother." He gave him back to her who bare him, not merely to be for a few years longer her earthly companion, but, as now a saved and regenerate man, to be to her a joy both for time and for eternity.(1) Arise from the death of unbelief. Conversion is a passing from death unto life. When you become a saved man, it is as though a corpse were quickened into life.(2) Arise from the bondage of sin. You cannot afford to be lost. The interests at stake are too tremendous to be imperilled by delay. Won't you yield, and say, "Yes, Lord, at Thy bidding I arise, to live from this day for Thee"? But some young man will say, "I feel the force of all you say; I know I ought to be a Christian, and shall never be happy till I am one; but it is no use trying; sin has got the upper hand of me, and when certain temptations meet me, I fall, and must fall, and will fall." I remember of a young man talking to me in that style, and saying, "I believe the gospel to be true: that Christ is an omnipotent Saviour, I have not a doubt. I can fully trust Him, so far as that is concerned; and yet I dare not profess Him, because I know that a particular sin has complete mastery over me, and I am not going to be a hypocrite." But I took him by the buttonhole, and said, "Let me read a verse to you," and then I turned to John 1:12 — "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God"; and I showed him that, when one accepts Christ, he accepts Him, not merely as a Saviour from guilt and from hell, but as a Saviour from lust, and from vile passions, and from evil thoughts; and that He must be trusted for this just as for the other.(3) Arise from the apathy of indolence. The great mass of nominal Christians are asleep. The only thing they want religion for is its comfort; it gives them a pillow to lay their heads on. Is that the purpose for which you have enlisted? When the stern Scottish chief was walking round his encampment one night, he saw his own son lying on a pillow of snow which he had carefully gathered and packed together before he lay down; the father kicked the pillow from under his son's head and said," Come, I will have no effeminacy here. I want robust men in my army." Oh, how many in Christ's army are fast asleep, not on a bolster of snow, but on a pillow of down. "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." Arise from the slumber of lethargy and come and grapple with the foe.

(J. Thain Davidson. D. D.)

Some places have been made famous by a single incident. Nain is the village of the widow's son whom Jesus raised from the dead. By no other event is Nain known. For a moment the light of heaven fell upon it, and haloed it with a glory which has attracted the eyes of all the Christian ages, and then it disappeared into its former obscurity. The site of the ancient village is well authenticated; it is occupied by the modern Nein, a squalid, miserable collection of huts, situated on the north-western edge of Jebel el Duhy, or the "Little Hermon," where the hill slopes down into the plain of Esdraelon. Our Lord came to Nain on His way south to keep the Passover. The day before He had healed the centurion's servant at Capernaum; and now, after having walked eighteen miles since the cool hours of early morning, He toiled slowly in the afternoon up the steep slope leading to the village. He was tired and footsore. But there was work for the Father awaiting Him, in the doing of which He would find His meat and drink. They were carrying a dead man to his burial on the east side of the village, where the rough rock was full of sepulchral caves.

1. It would be difficult to make the picture of desolation more complete than the evangelist has done by a few simple words. Notice that the three recorded miracles of restoration from the dead were performed upon young persons.

2. We are apt to look upon the fact of Jesus meeting the funeral procession at the precise moment when it was issuing out of the gate of the city as a mere chance or fortunate coincidence. But nothing really occurs by chance; there is no such divinity in the universe.

3. "And when the Lord saw her He had compassion on her." It is not said that the bereaved mother addressed Jesus. But He knew all the circumstances of the case. Never was there a human heart so feeling as His. The very word employed in our version to express His sympathy denotes His exquisite tenderness. It signifies the unutterable pity which a mother has for her offspring. Jesus Himself was, strictly speaking, the only son of His mother; and, as Joseph was in all probability dead by this time, she, too, was a widow, worn down by the duties and cares of a humble home. We cannot wonder, then, that the woman who came before Him in agonizing circumstances, similar to those in which He would soon have to leave His own mother, drew from His heart a peculiar compassion, and induced Him, unsolicited, to perform for her one of His rarest and supremest acts of mercy.

4. "And said unto her, Weep not." This "weep not" different from that addressed to the hired mourners of Jairus's household. There it was uttered in indignation, for the purpose of restoring quiet; here it is said in deepest sympathy, for the purpose of cheering and soothing. How often do these words proceed from the lips of earthly comforters! No argument here for stoicism under sorrow. No one need be ashamed of tears, since our Saviour's eyes were filled with them. The very existence of tears shows that God has designed them and has a use for them. When Christ then, says, "Weep not," He does not mean to forbid tears, or to make us ashamed of them; but to give us a reason, a sufficient cause for drying our tears.

5. "He came and touched the bier." Not necessary for Him to do this, so far as the exercise of His Divine power was concerned. But there was deep significance in what He did. He violated the letter of the law that He might keep its spirit.

6. "And they that bare him stood still." They were struck by a sudden consciousness that they were in the presence of One who had a right to stop them even in their progress to the tomb; and they waited silently and reverently for what He might say or do. What a scene for the genius of a great painter does the imagination picture at this sublime expectant moment, when the power of God is about to be visibly displayed. The mother bowed down with grief, and yet lifting up to the face of Jesus eager eyes, in which a new-born hope struggles with the tears of despair; the bearers of the bier standing still with looks of awe and astonishment; the motley groups of the funeral procession, and the multitude who followed Jesus in their picturesque Oriental dresses, turning to one another as if asking the meaning of this strange proceeding; the calm, holy form of Jesus touching the bier, and the last red level rays of the sun setting behind the green hills on the western horizon, haloing with a sacred glow the head of the Redeemer, and the shrouded figure that lies motionless and unconscious on the bier, speaking touchingly of that sun that shall no more go down!

7. The stillness is broken by words such as human ears had never heard before — "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." How suggestive of omnipotence is that "I."

8. And he that was dead sat up and began to speak." What did he speak about? His lips were sealed upon those things which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Our Lord Himself, after His resurrection, said not a single word regarding what He had seen and heard during the three days when His body was in Joseph's tomb and His soul in Hades. How opposed is all this to the so-called revelations of spirits, given to those who call themselves spiritualists.

9. "And He delivered him to his mother." Who can describe the unutterable gladness of that restoration? The revulsion of feeling must have been painful in its very intensity. But the evangelist has left a veil over it, for there are feelings with which a stranger may not intermeddle. Truly the promise was literally fulfilled to her, "Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning."

10. Upon the spectators the effect of the wonderful miracle was overwhelming. A great fear fell upon them, that strange instinctive fear produced by sudden contact with the invisible world, which we feel even in the presence of our beloved dead, on account of the awful mystery in which they are shrouded. They glorified God that the long period during which there had been no prophet, no supernatural sign, no communication between heaven and earth, nothing but the continuous motion of the wheels of providence along the same beaten track, and the uniform action of the dull unchanging signals of nature that carried the general despatches of the universe, had come to an end at last. They had open vision once more, and a sense of the nearness of heaven. But far short were their impressions and conceptions, however vivid at the moment, of the glorious truth.

(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

I. THE WORDS OF CHRIST'S CONSOLATION WERE SIMPLE, AS ALL CONSOLATION OUGHT TO BE. Too much talking spoils comfort. Give few words, but let them be crowded with the infinite of feeling.

II. CHRIST PUT THIS COMPASSION OF HIS AT ONCE INTO ACTION. NO sooner had the feelings of pity arisen within Him than He came forward and touched the bier, did what He could to help the woman. That is a deep lesson to us, though a commonplace one. What an absurd self-deception it is to call ourselves Christians if we never, like Christ, come forward and touch the bier.

III. THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF DIVINE POWER IN THE MIND OF CHRIST. Contrast His consciousness of Divine power with His lovely, sad, and hidden life.



1. Often in the midst of death that we meet the true life.

2. Every miracle has a two-fold object, to meet some physical want or distress, and to point to Christ Himself as the one alone who could relieve the higher wants of the spirit of man. It is with us spiritually as it was with the widow's son. Upon the path of life comes Christ, and touches the bier, and that which was dead arises.

(Stopford Brooke, M. A.)

This miracle has much in common with Christ's other two miracles of raising from the dead. The same calm authority, the same Divine self-confidence is evident in them all.

I. CHRIST'S IMPULSE OF COMPASSION. We are not satisfied with our knowledge of any man until we have seen something of his impulses.

1. See how this illustrates the greatness of Christ. His air was not distraught. His sympathies were as prompt, His considerateness as full and tender, as though not a care was on His spirit.

2. Remember, too, how Christ subordinated family affection to the call of the gospel. How hard and irresponsive, how cold and unsympathetic, are men who have sacrificed affection to obedience.

3. This gives us a view of God which we sorely need. Nature reveals one whom the strong may adore; a God for the happy. Christ reveals God as coming down to us in compassion and tender personal sympathy.

II. THE SIMPLICITY OF CHRIST'S COMPASSION. For simple unmingled grief, simple unmingled comfort is the only balm. He could afford often to dispense with speech, because His life was unmistakably a witness for God. Simplicity is the great want of modern Christian life. If it were deeper it would be less fussy.

(A. Mackennal, D. D.)

I. THE BEREAVED MOTHER. Painter, as well as physician, we can believe St. Luke to have been. Desolation was never more graphically and pathetically summed up than in the words, "The only son," &c. Then, too, it is hard for the young and strong to leave the world. Cut off prematurely, sayest thou? What if it be that the corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die, and thus bear much fruit. Bereaved mother, a word to thee! If thy son is dear to thee, think him as much so to thy Saviour.


1. In the associations of the miracle there is much of deepest interest:

(a)Our Lord's power to grapple with sudden emergencies.

(b)His sensitive compassion.

(c)The paucity of His words.

2. The miracle itself: All its details are commonplace, entirely divested of any clothing of the would-be wonderful.

(a)In the mercy there were the elements of fresh trials. Again there were all the anxieties to undergo, all the battle again to fight, the prospect again of severance.

(b)Why are miracles of resurrection no longer possible? Because there is no longer the same end to be nerved.

(c)Such miracle typical. Death a type of sin. Renewal of human nature a resurrection with Christ.


1. Gratifying as their sympathy would be, the very crowds would cause her to feel more solitary.

2. In the feelings excited by the performance of the miracle, we trace no thought for those of the mother. We find only superstitious fear, which, in its turn, gives place to wild enthusiasm. The words of the people seem to denote that the miracle recalled those of Elijah and Elisha, and the prophet's vision (Ezekiel 37). They indulged in sentimental Messianic dreams; they built themselves up afresh in national pride; they gave themselves over to self-important babbling. We have only here a fresh illustration of that false spirit to which it was our Lord's sad destiny to minister. With all their enthusiasm He knew that there was no real life, no deep apprehension of the character of the truths He had come to teach.

(W. J. Gordon.)


II. Of this most striking class of miracles ONLY THREE ARE RECORDED, AND WE MUST SUPPOSE ONLY THREE WERE WROUGHT. For this infrequency there may have been many reasons.

1. A desire to make the miracle mote striking by its isolation.

2. The unbelief of the people. Christ is never asked to raise the dead. Even Martha just hints and no more, that God will grant whatever He asks.

III. THERE IS A GRADATION IN THE MIRACLES, LEADING UP, AS IT WERE, TO A CLIMAX. Just dead; twenty-four hours dead; four days dead. In all cases, the fact of the death well-ascertained, and abundance of witnesses secured. What must be the feelings of a man between one death and another?

IV. A MIRACLE PRODUCES ITS EFFECT ACCORDING TO THE STATE OF MIND OF THOSE WHO WITNESS IT. It does not necessarily carry conviction. Here a fear comes on all, and they glorify God. In the second miracle they are astonished with a great astonishment. At the crowning miracle, the hatred against Jesus having become more intense, some went their way to the Pharisees and reported what Jesus had done.

(G. Calthrop, M. A.)

How splendid the career of Jesus! Observe here —


II. WHAT CHRIST FELT — "Compassion." His eye affected His heart.

1. Agreeable to His nature.

2. Agreeable to all His works.

III. WHAT CHRIST SAID — "Weep not." Was it not a very harsh and unreasonable demand?

1. Might she not have reminded Him that to weep was in accordance with the feelings of our nature?

2. Have not the best of men wept?

3. This was an extremely afflictive case. Still He insists that she must weep not. We shall soon perceive the reason: He was about to remove the cause of sorrow.


1. He touched the bier. Arrested it in its course; bearers felt it impossible to advance; finger of God was upon it. Hence they stood still-astonished, amazed.

2. He commanded the corpse to arise. Although dead, he heard the voice of the Son of God, and lived. His spirit heard it in Hades — the invisible state, and came back.

3. He delivered him to his mother. Christ might have insisted on the consecration of himself to His service, as a disciple, evangelist, or apostle. Compassion commenced, and compassion gave the finishing stroke to this splendid and Divine scene.

4. The people glorified God. The glory of God was the grand object and end of Christ's undertakings.Application: See in this young man —

1. A striking picture of the natural state of man.

2. Learn the only means of restoration.

3. God is greatly glorified in the salvation of sinners.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

What are the sentiments with which we attend a funeral?


1. Let us attend the funeral not merely for the sake of politeness, but out of Christian charity.

(1)Such attendance is in conformity with human nature.

(2)It is beneficial to ourselves, reminding us that we are brethren, children of the same heavenly Father.

2. Let us succour the deceased, by remembering him in our prayers, &c.

3. Let us console the family of the deceased.

(1)Let us weep with them that weep. Compassion is like balsam.

(2)Let us speak comfort to the grief-stricken family. Remind them of the dispositions of Divine Providence, of immortality, and future reunion.

(3)Let us perform consoling works.

II. OUR CONDUCT WITH REGARD TO OURSELVES. A funeral is a warning to us.

1. Look at the corpse.(1) What has it been? What we are: full of life and health, full of hopes, prospects, and plans for the future. Was this person young or old, rich or poor, beautiful or deformed, learned or illiterate? It does not matter. No one is secured against death. The only important question is this: Was the dead person virtuous or wicked?(2) What is it now? What we all shall be: a hideous corpse, deprived of life and "beauty, deprived of all advantages of mind, form, and earthly conditions. Only one thing has been spared by death: the good and evil deeds done in life.(3) How has it come to this state? In the same way as that by which we must pass — death. Has death come unexpected, or after an early warning? When and where?(4) What will it be? Like every one of us, a prey to vermin, an inhabitant of the grave. So passes the glory of the world. But, at the same time, it is the seed of a future body — either glorious or ignominious.

2. Let us turn our eyes to Jesus, the Life-giver.


The mother of poor Touda, who heard that I wished to see him once more, led me to the house where the body was laid. The narrow space of the room was crowded; about two hundred women were sitting and standing around, singing mourning songs to doleful and monotonous airs. As I stood looking, filled with solemn thoughts, in spite of, or rather because of, perhaps, the somewhat ludicrous contrasts about me, the mother of Touda approached. She threw herself at the foot of her dead son, and begged him to speak to her once more. And then, when the corpse did not answer, she uttered a shriek, so long, so piercing, such a wail of love and grief, that tears came into my eyes. Poor African mother! she was literally as one sorrowing without hope; for these poor people count on nothing beyond the present life. For them there is no hope beyond the grave. "All is done," they say, with an inexpressible sadness of conviction that sometimes gave me a heartache. As I left the hut, thinking these things, the wailing recommenced. It would be kept up by the women, who are the official mourners on these occasions, till the corpse was buried.

(Du Chaillu.)

Every funeral is God's repetition of His anathema against sin. When our friends are carried to the silent sepulchre the Lord of all does in fact say to us, "See what a bitter thing sin is; it takes the light from the eye and the music from the ear; it silences the voice of song, and palsies the hand of skill; it quenches the fire of love upon the heart's altar, and removes the light of understanding from the brain's judgment seat, and gives over the creature once so lovely and beloved to become a putrid mass, a horror and a loathing, so that affection itself cries out, 'Bury my dead out of my sight.'" Thus every gravestone and every green hillock in the cemetery may be regarded as the still small voice of God solemnly condemning sin.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Archbisbop Leighton, returning home one morning, was asked by his sister, "Have you been bearing a sermon?" "I've met a sermon," was the answer. The sermon he had met was a corpse on its way to the grave. The preacher was Death. Greatest of street-preachers! — nor laws nor penalties can silence. No tramp of horses, nor rattling of carriages, nor rush and din of crowded streets can drown his voice. In heathen, pagan, and Protestant countries, in monarchies and free states, in town and country, the solemn pomp. of discourse is going on. In some countries a man is imprisoned for even dropping a tract. But what prison will hold this awful preacher? What chains will bind him? He lifts up his voice in the very presence of tyrants, and laughs at their threats. He walks unobstructed through the midst of their guards, and delivers the messages which trouble their security and embitter their pleasures. If we do not meet his sermons, still we cannot escape them. He comes to our abode, and, taking the dearest object of our love as his text, what sermons does he deliver to us! His oft-repeated sermons still enforce the same doctrine, still press upon us the same exhortation, "Surely, every man walketh in a vain show. Surely they are disquieted in vain." "Here we have no continuing city."

Happy is the man who has that in his soul which acts upon the dejected as April airs upon violet roots. Gifts from the hand are silver and gold; but the heart gives that which neither silver nor gold can buy. To be full of goodness, full of cheerfulness, full of sympathy, full of helpful hope, causes a man to carry blessings of which he is himself as unconscious as a lamp. of its own shining. Such a one moves on human life as stars move on dark seas to bewildered mariners; as the sun wheels, bringing all the seasons with him from the south.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Bishop Myrel had the art of sitting down, and holding his tongue for hours, by the side of a man who had lost the wife he loved, or of a mother bereaved of her child.

(Victor Hugo.)

Contrast between the two compassions of which the bereaved mother was the object. Helpless compassion of multitude; mighty compassion of Christ.

I. The Father sent His Son into the world to adopt and justify these common and daily human compassions, and to reveal what had all along been implied though hidden in them.

II. Jesus Christ shared in the compassion of the Jewish mourners, and shares now in such compassion everywhere because He is the Son of Man.

III. The text, however, reminds us that He who comes to meet the funerals of our kind and unites His compassion with our compassion, is more even than the Son of Man, the Head of our race. "And when the Lord saw her." The Son of Man, who is the Lord, has compassion with humanity in its troubles.

(T. Hancock.)

Only three such reprieves recorded in the Gospels. Not fewer, that there might be no doubt as to the fact; not more, that the fact might not be too common.

1. All whom our Lord called back to life were comparatively young. It was death as a blight that He checked and restrained.

2. In all three cases it was kindness to the living which chiefly moved Christ to raise the dead. In each act we see Jesus in a higher character than a worker of miracles; it showed Him as the binder of broken hearts.

3. The resurrection of the dead is the result of the Divine power of Christ, In the most stupendous of all His works of power He put away secondary means; the creative command went direct from the creative voice to the matter and the spirit which were bound to obey that voice. The mode of working is majestic, Divine.

4. The three risings which took place at the command of Christ were preludes and foreshadowings of His own. But they did but imperfectly resemble that one complete resurrection. Christ rose at no word of command, but because He had life in Himself.

5. Taking our stand upon the truth that Christ is risen from the dead, we may see in these revivals the foreshadowings of that universal revival, when all the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and live. If you do not hear and obey the gentle, persuasive, loving voice of Christ now, it will be ill with you when that great voice sounds which will call all of us from our graves, and which we shall then be compelled to hear and obey.

(The late Dean of Ely.)

We crossed Hermon, and found ourselves in a small decayed village on the edge of another bay of Esdraelon, which runs between the hills of Galilee and Hermon to the north. It was Nain. It is poor, confused and filthy, like every village in Palestine, but its situation is very fine, as commanding a good view of the plain, with the opposite hills, and especially of Tabor, that rises like a noble wooded island at the head of the green bay. And Nain, in the light of the Gospel-history, is another of those fountains of living water opened up by the Divine Saviour, which have flowed through all lands to refresh the thirsty. How many widows, for eighteen centuries, have been comforted; how many broken hearts soothed and healed; by the story of Nain — by the unsought and unexpected sympathy of Jesus, and by His power and majesty! What has Nineveh or Babylon been to the world in comparison with Nain? And this is the wonder constantly suggested by the insignificant villages of Palestine, that their names have become parts, as it were, of the deepest experiences of the noblest persons of every land and every age.

(Norman Macleod, D. D.)


Forth from the city gate the pitying crowd

Followed the stricken mourner. They came near

The place of burial, and, with straining hands,

Closer upon her breast she clasped the pall,

And with a gasping sob, quick as a child's,

And an inquiring wildness flashing through

The thin grey lashes of her fevered eyes,

She came where Jesus stood beside the way.

He looked upon her, and His heart was moved.

"Weep not!" He said; and as they stayed the bier,

And at His bidding laid it at His feet,

He gently drew the pall from out her grasp,

And laid it back in silence from the dead.

With troubled wonder the mute throng drew near,

And gazed on His calm looks. A minute's space

He stood and pray'd. Then taking the cold hand,

He said, "Arise!" And instantly the breast

Heaved in its cerements, and a sudden flush

Ran through the lines of the divided lips,

And with a murmur of his mother's name,

He trembled and sat upright in his shroud.

And while the mourner hung upon his neck,

Jesus went calmly on His way to Nain.

(N. P. Willis.)

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