Gate of Grace
Two crowds collided at the gate. One was entering while the other was exiting. The group entering was full of excitement, still buzzing from the miracle Jesus performed 20 miles up the road in Capernaum. The group exiting was full of sorrow, escorting a body to be buried. It was a funeral procession.
Though there were many people in the procession, one woman stood out from the others. She was nearest the stretcher. Her despair was deeper. Her sobbing was stronger. Her tears were thicker. This woman was not mourning the loss of her grandpa or great uncle. It was not the corpse of her father or friend, either. It was the corpse of her son — her one and only son.
“Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her” (Luke 7:11-12).
This was a double tragedy. Not only had this woman lost her son, she was a widow. One would be hard pressed to find someone more pitiful than that. Her husband was gone, her son was gone, her means of support was gone, her family line was gone… can you imagine? When Jesus saw the woman, He felt compassion and uttered three words:
“Do not weep” (Luke 7:13).
Coming from any other person, those three words would have seemed inappropriate. This woman had lost everything. Her world was turned upside down. Parents are not supposed to bury their children. The most precious person in her life had been snatched away, and she was about to place his body next to the other most precious person in her life, who had also been taken. Furthermore, she had to worry about her future in a society that was not exactly “widow friendly.” If anybody had a reason to weep, it was her!
But Jesus was not any other person. He was the Son of God. He was the Creator walking among the created. He knew her thoughts and felt her pain. Her broken heart broke His heart. Those three words (“Do not weep”) stood for another three words (“I love you”). Then, in dramatic fashion, He approached the body.
“Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother” (vv. 15-16).
Wow! Jesus halted the funeral procession by walking over to the stretcher and touching it. This would have made Him ceremonially unclean according to the Law (Numbers 19:11-16) and been incredibly shocking to the onlookers. The pallbearers stood still. The crowd fell silent. All eyes were on Jesus. A nervous anticipation overtook the sorrow. “What is He about to do?”
There are three recorded cases of Jesus raising the dead in the Gospel accounts. All of them involved Him issuing a command: To the widow’s son: “Young man, arise” (Luke 7:14); To Jarius’ daughter: “Child, arise” (Luke 8:54); To Lazarus: “Lazarus, come out” (John 11:43). And every time the gates of Hades swung open, life swooped back into the body, and the person immediately obeyed His voice. Interestingly, the same voice that raised these people will one day raise all people from the dead (John 5:28-29).
Jesus never used the word grace, yet no one has ever defined it better. He was grace personified. He was a walking, talking, living manifestation of God’s unmerited favor bestowed on an unworthy world. He was a place of refuge for the weary, teary, and leery. Certainly, we can see His grace at the gate of Nain.
The gate of Nain took on new significance for the widow. It became the gate of grace. It was the place where life was restored, hope was renewed, and tears were wiped away. It was the place she met Jesus, and her life was never the same after that. Have you met Jesus at the gate of grace?