Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 7:14 - 7:16

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 7:14 - 7:16


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THE WIDOW’S SON RAISED

Luk_7:14-16. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.

THE more faithful any servant of God is, the more he will abound in labours. Of those who were men of like passions with us, none ever equalled St. Paul; but our blessed Lord far exceeded all the children of men. No day elapsed without fresh manifestations of his power and compassion. He had on the preceding day raised the Centurion’s servant from a bed of sickness; now we behold him employed in restoring a dead man to life. We shall consider,

I.       The miracle—

The Jews used to bury their dead without the precincts of their cities. At the gate of the city of Nain Jesus met a funeral procession: the principal mourner tnat followed it engaged his attention—

[She was a mother following her own son to the grave. How afflictive is such an event to a tender parent! This son had grown up to the estate of manhood. We may see in David’s lamentations for Absalom what an affliction this is! Her loss was further aggravated in that this was her only child. If one out of many had died, she would have been deeply grieved: how much more in losing him, in whom her affections had so long centered! That which added ten-fold poignancy to her sorrow was, that she was a widow. When her husband had died she had been consoled by her surviving child; but now she had none left to be the support and comfort of declining years. Destroyed both root and branch, she had no prospect but that her name would be extinct in Israel.]

Filled with compassion he wrought a miracle on her behalf—

[Jesus, addressing himself to the mourning widow, bade her not weep. How vain, how impertinent had such advice been, if given by a common man! But, from him, it came as a rich cordial to her fainting spirit. He then stopped the procession, and said to the dead man, Arise. Nor were the hopes, occasioned by his interference, disappointed. On other occasions he wrought his miracles at the request of others [Note: Intercession was made for Jairus’s daughter, by her own father; for the Centurion’s servant, by his friends; for the paralytic, by his neighbours; but none besought him for this distressed widow.]. This he performed spontaneously, and unsolicited by any. Nothing moved him to it but that very compassion which brought him down from heaven: nor did he exercise this power in the name of another [Note: Elijah and Elisha obtained this power by prayer, 1 Kings17:21. 2Ki_4:33.; and Peter wrought his miracles in the name of Jesus, Act_3:6; Act_9:34.]. He spake authoritatively, as one who could quicken whom he would [Note: Joh_5:21.]: nor did he merely recall the soul without renovating the body [Note: 2Ki_4:34-35.]; the restoration to life and vigour was effected perfectly, and in an instant [Note: “He sat up, and began to speak.”]. To complete the mercy, “he delivered the man to his mother;” and preferred the comfort of the widow to the honour he himself might have gained in retaining such a follower.]

Such a stupendous miracle could not fail of exciting suitable emotions—

II.      The effect it produced—

There is little in the Scriptures to gratify our curiosity. Hence we are not told what the man spake, or how the mother was affected at the first interview with her son; but, if once she forgat her pangs, for joy that he was born, how much more her sorrows now, that he was restored to life? Doubtless the scene must have been inexpressibly interesting—

[We may conceive Jesus, meekly majestic, delivering the man to his mother: but it is not so easy to conceive the first emotions of their minds. Nature would stimulate the reunited relatives to expressions of mutual endearment. Grace, on the other hand, would rather lead them first to admire and adore their Benefactor. Perhaps, looking alternately on Jesus and on each other, they might stand fixed in silent astonishment. We need not however dwell on that which, at best, is mere conjecture.]

The effect produced on the multitude is recorded for our instruction—

1.       They were all filled with fear—

[The people that attended Jesus, and those who followed the funeral, meeting together, the concourse was very great; and one impression pervaded the whole body. The fear which came upon them was a reverential awe: this is natural to man, when he beholds any signal appearance of the Deity. It is equally produced whether God appear in a way of judgment or of mercy [Note: Compare Act_5:11 and Luk_1:65.]. Somewhat of this kind is felt by the seraphim before the throne [Note: Isa_6:2.]: and it would be more experienced by us, if we realized more the Divine presence [Note: Jer_10:6-7.]. When it is excited only by some visible display of the Deity, it will generally vanish with the occasion; but when it is caused by faith, it will abide and influence our whole conduct. Happy would it be for us if we were continually thus impressed [Note: Pro_28:14.].]

2.       They glorified God—

[They did not know that Jesus was indeed a divine person; but they manifestly saw that he was “a great prophet,” and that God, after suspending all miraculous interpositions for above three hundred years, had again “visited his people.” In these tokens of God’s favour they could not but rejoice. Doubtless they congratulated each other on this glorious event, and gave vent to their gratitude in devoutest adorations. We have reason indeed to fear that these impressions were soon effaced. Happy had they been if they had retained this heavenly disposition; but who has not reason to regret, that mercies produce too transient an effect upon his mind? Let us at least profit by the example they then set us, and labour to “glorify God” for the inestimable mercies he has conferred upon us.]

Improvement—

1.       This history may teach us to sit loose to the things of this life—

[If we possess personal and family mercies, let us be thankful for them. The continuance of them is no less a favour than the restoration of them would be: but let us not inordinately fix our affections upon any created good. We know not how soon our dearest comforts may become the occasion of our deepest sorrows. The case of Job affords a striking admonition to men in all ages [Note: Job_1:13-19.]. Let us then endeavour to practise that advice of the Apostle [Note: 1Co_7:29-31.], and place our affections on those things which will never be taken from us [Note: Col_3:2.].]

2.       It shews us whither we should flee in a season of deep affliction—

[As no physician could restore the widow’s son, so none could heal her wounded spirit; but there was one at hand, when she little thought of it, that could do both. That same Almighty Deliverer is very nigh unto us, and calls us to him-self when we are bowed down with trouble [Note: Psa_50:15. Mat_11:28.]. Let us then call upon him under every spiritual or temporal affliction, and, above all, under the guilt and burthen of our sins — — —. And, with a conviction of his all-sufficiency, let us say with Peter [Note: Joh_6:68-69.]—]

3.       We may take occasion from it to bless God for the preached Gospel—

[The word of Christ is as powerful now in his Gospel as ever it was in the days of his flesh. It quickens many who were dead in trespasses and sins: it rescues them from the second death, and awakens them to an eternal life. How many have seen the souls, over which they had long mourned, called forth to life by the almighty voice of Jesus!. Let the whole multitude of us then “fear the Lord and his goodness [Note: Hos_3:5.]?.” Let us “glorify him” for sending us such an adorable Saviour: and let us seek, both for ourselves and others, fresh displays of his power and grace.]