Rev. Dr. Don Frazure
Today’s chapter contains an account of Jesus giving new life to a widow’s only son, and of Jesus giving new life to a sinful woman. In both instances, new life is given, but that new life is different in each case. First, the widow’s son had passed away. The man was dead and they were taking him to be buried when Jesus stepped in to give him new life. Even so, the text is more about Jesus’ compassion for the widow rather than the miracle of Jesus raising the son back to life. While Jesus was certainly moved by the widow’s grief, he also knew that her son’s death had greater consequences. The death of the widow’s adult son was not only the loss of a child to her, but it was also an economic catastrophe. With her son gone, she would not be entitled to any legal inheritance and would have to rely upon charity for everything from food, to clothing, and to lodging. Not only was she grieving her son, she was having to grieve in a state of complete hopelessness. Jesus knew her need, and out of his abundant grace, he restored her to hope and new life by restoring the life of her son. In the case of the sinful woman, she was also dead. Not physically, but she was spiritually dead. She was at rock bottom. She had no doubt heard about this man Jesus, and how he was healing people from diseases and bringing the dead to life again. Whatever she heard, it convicted her of her fallen state and prompted her to seek out Jesus. When she found him eating dinner at the home of a Pharisee, she brought the most expensive thing she had – an alabaster jar of perfume – and poured it out on Jesus. She washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Jesus knew her sins were many, but he saw the faith she had to come to him, and he forgave her. The woman came to Jesus seeking new life from the death she had been living. Just like the widow, she was living life in hopelessness, until Jesus had compassion on her to forgive her sins and bring her into new life. What strikes me about both of these stories is that sometimes Jesus seeks out those he helps, and at other times he waits for them to come to him. I know there have been times in my life where things seemed pretty bad. I also know some of those times, Jesus comforted me before I even asked, and at other times, it was not until I went to him. Come to think about it, when the pain was caused by circumstances beyond my control, Jesus came to me – just like the widow. Likewise, when the pain was caused by my sin and the stupid stuff I did, Jesus waited for me to come to him – just like the sinful woman. In either case, Jesus brought new life to me each and every time. After all - He is the resurrection and the life!
Jesus and Elijah
There are many similarities, and a few differences, between the story of Jesus raising the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17) and Elijah raising the son of a widow (1 Kings 17:8-24). Both Elijah and Jesus were met as they entered town. Both Elijah and Jesus raised the son of a widow. Both women responded that the boy was ‘given back’ to their mother. Both Elijah and Jesus were recognized as being extraordinary men of God. Study the two and see how God worked in similar ways.
*Adapted from the Life Application Bible Commentary of Luke