There is a beautiful verse in the book of Hebrews (4:15) that reminds us that Jesus, the Son of God, is able to ‘sympathize with our weaknesses’. The same book tells us that ‘He is . . . able to save’ (7:25). In Him power and compassion are combined.
In an earlier article we noted that in some cultures, including that of Israel in New Testament times, being widowed could mean not just loneliness but destitution. In chapter 7 of his gospel, Luke presents a bleak picture. Jesus is approaching the city of Nain and meets a huge crowd of people. The body of a man is being carried out to be buried. He is the only son of his mother. What a tragedy! But that’s not all. Luke adds this to the record: ‘she was a widow’ (v.12).
The crowd accompanying that sorrowing woman could do little to alleviate her acute suffering. What comfort can anyone offer in those circumstances?
I believe that Jesus timed his arrival deliberately to meet the funeral procession. Luke tells us that He had compassion on the woman. Then He told her not to weep, and they were no idle words.
Notice first His power: He ‘touched the open coffin’ and told the young man to get up and he ‘sat up and began to speak’. Then, notice His compassion: ‘He presented him to his mother’.
He is the answer to those who feel that no one understands their situation and that, even if they did, they would be powerless to help. He doesn’t promise to remove all of life’s difficulties (the woman remained a widow) but He has both the power and the compassion to meet the deepest need of fallen humanity. Jesus’ death for sinners speaks clearly His compassion and His resurrection on the third day shouts His power.