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vain for help in trouble. None were sent empty away, who laid their cases of distress before Him. He always hearkened to their cry, and gave them the aid which they needed and were anxious to obtain. The Gospel for this day contains an account of His wonderful compassion shown to a poor disconsolate widow; and of His almighty power exercised in raising to life again her only son, who was dead, and just on the point of being committed to the grave, to return to his original dust. It is remarkable that the fact here recorded is mentioned only by St. Luke; as the raising of Lazarus from the dead is related only by St. John :87 while the other miracle of the same description, the restoration to life of Jairus's daughter, is recorded by three of the Evangelists.68 We are not, however, to suppose that one fact is more authentic than another, because it is recorded by more than one of the sacred historians. There were no doubt wise reasons for the various statements of the different Evangelists, with which it would be useless for us now to be made acquainted.
In the miracle which is brought before our view in the Gospel for this day, we behold our blessed Saviour commiserating the distresses of mankind, and by His Divine power affording instantaneous relief in a case of deep affliction. These traits
67 John xi. 44.
68 Mat. ix. 25. Mark v. 42. Luke viii. 55.
in the character of our Lord Jesus Christ are described, not merely as the history of a humane and excellent man, in whose conduct we have no immediate concern; but they are brought forward in order to point out to us His willingness and ability to relieve the spiritual wants of miserable sinners now, as He then relieved the temporal distresses of the needy and destitute. Let us make our application to Him for the blessings which we need; and we may be assured that, since it appears in the instance before us He was found of one that sought Him not, and was made manifest unto one that asked not after69 Him; much more if we ask shall we receive, if we seek we shall find His mercy and grace, to the rejoicing of our souls. The Evangelist St. Luke relates, that it came
the day after He had healed the servant of a centurion at Capernaum, that Jesus went into a city called Nain, wbich is supposed to have been to the south-west of the lake of Galilee, and not far from mount Tabor. And many of His disciples went with Him, and much people. The miracles which He wrought, and the parables and discourses which He delivered, collected the people around Him continually while He went from one place to another.
Now when He came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a
69 Romans x. 20.
dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow : and much people of the city was with her. By this account it appears that the deceased was held in estimation among his fellow-citizens, who were desirous to pay the last token of regard to his memory. The kind and sympathising heart of our Saviour was affected at the sight of the mourning widow, who, having before lost her husband, was now accompanying the remains of her only son to the grave. And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. He bade her to dry up her tears, for He was about to turn her sorrow into joy. And He came and touched the bier, and they that bare him stood still. And He said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. Thus He proved Himself to be the Lord of life and death. For as soon as the command was given, He that was dead sat up, and began to speak. He gave this evidence that he was indeed alive; and then Jesus delivered him to his mother, who was doubtless overjoyed that her beloved son was restored to her again. The effect produced by this wonderful display of almighty power on those who had witnessed it was, that 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. Thus they acknowledged the Lord Jesus to be the great Prophet, of whose coming Moses had foretold, to whom the people were to hearken under the penalty of destruction for disobedience ;70 and they acknowledged His coming among them to be a visitation of Divine mercy, according to the sentiment expressed by Zacharias the father of John the Baptist, when he was filled with the Holy Ghost, and he spake and praised God, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David. 71
The miracle which was wrought on this occasion by our Lord Jesus Christ most wonderfully displayed His almighty power. It was therefore by no means surprising that what the people then said of Him should be spread abroad, as the Evangelist observes : This rumour of Him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about. This miracle may lead us to consider more particularly,
First, The wonderful compassion, and
Secondly, The almighty power of our Lord Jesus Christ; both of which are clearly implied in the words of the text.
First, His wonderful compassion is intimated in the remark that God hath visited His people. The idea is that of a visit of kindness with the view of conferring a benefit. This use of the
70 Deuteronomy xviii. 15, 19.
71 Luke i. 67–69.
word has been shown in the language uttered by Zacharias, when he recovered his speech, of which he had for a season been deprived. It is used again in the course of the same Divine song, in reference to the same subject. It is ascribed to the tender mercy of our God, that the day-spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. In the collect for the first Sunday in Advent, our Lord Jesus Christ is spoken of as having come “to visit us in great humility.” During this period His kindness and compassion to the distressed around Him were most conspicuous. In the beginning of the chapter from which the text is taken, an account is given of His kindness in listening to a tale of distress related to Him by some of the elders of the Jews, who besought Him to heal the servant of a centurion, who was sick and ready to die.73 He went with them towards the centurion's house; but on receiving a message from him, expressing a sense of his unworthiness to receive Him under his roof, He proceeded no further, but informed the centurion's friends, that the servant was recovered; which they found to be the fact when they returned to the house. And here, on the following day, as we have seen,
72 Luke i. 78, 79.
73 Luke vii. 2.