The day after Jesus healed the sick servant of a centurion in Capernaum, He travels eighteen miles to a city called Nain. It is located on the northwestern edge of a mountain called Little Hermon, where the ground descends into the Plain of Esdraelon. On this day, Jesus performed one of His greatest miracles (Luke 7:11-17). As Jesus begins to enter the city, He meets a funeral procession exiting the city gates, most likely, going to the sepulchral caves along the steep eastern approach from the plain. It is still the eastern custom to carry the dead out of the cities and villages, as Luke portrays in this event. Jesus immediately surveys what is taking place, and notes that this funeral is for the only son of a widow. Luke records, “ And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her ” (Luke 7:13), and raised her son from the dead.
This should not surprise us, since this was not the only time he showed compassion for those bereaved. When He saw those bereaving for Lazarus, “ Jesus wept ” (John 11:35). There were many times during the earthly life and ministry of Jesus that He had compassion for others (Matt. 9:36; 14:14). He showed compassion for those unfortunate, including two blind men on the Jericho road (Matt. 20:34) and a leper (Mark 1:41). This also is representative of the compassion of God, since Jesus Himself is deity. God showed compassion on the Israelites when they were in Egyptian bondage (Exod. 3:7). Although Judah had become wicked, “ the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place ” (2 Chron. 36:15; cf. Ps. 78:38). Although His justice cried out to deliver them into captivity, God showed compassion on them by promising to deliver them back to Israel again (Jer. 12:15). “ But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion ” (Ps. 86:15).
Therefore, it is no surprise to see the Son of God showing compassion in this situation. However, for all practical purposes, notice the response of the people: “ 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’ ” (Luke 7:16). Would not more people respond to the gospel if we showed more compassion like Jesus? People of God are to be a people of compassion: “ Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me ” (Matt. 25:40). “ But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ?” (1 John 3:17). Let us be more determined to be a compassionate people, seeking and saving “ that which was lost ” (Luke 19:10).