Lesson 41: The Widow's Son at Nain and Trip to Jerusalem
Luke 7:11-17, John 5:1-18
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 41. Our first reading will come from Luke ch. 7. But, before we read, by way of review, look again at Matthew's account of the sermon on the mount. That sermon ended at the end of Matt. ch. 7. Then in ch. 8, Matthew connected the cleansing of the Leper to Jesus' coming down from the mountain in the first verse. But then down in v.5, of ch. 8, Matthew said Jesus entered into Capernaum and healed the centurions servant, which we covered in our last lesson. Luke ended HIS account of the sermon on the mount at the end of Luke ch.6. Then in the first verse of ch. 7, Luke said Jesus then entered into Capernaum where he healed the centurion's servant; thus, agreeing with Matthew. Then in v.ll of Luke ch. 7, we read this, "And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people." Alright, now, I want you to get the city of Nain on your MAP-WORKSHEET first. City # 13. Just a few miles southeast of Nazareth. The spelling is in the verse we just read, Luke 7:11. This is the only time the city of Nain is mentioned in the entire Bible. And there are disputes today as to its ancient location. But, most of the maps give it at the location where # 13 is on your map. Now, I'm going to do just a little assuming here; but, try to follow my reasoning. Notice in the studies we have recently covered, the crowds were getting larger and larger. Jesus took his disciple up into a mountain of Galilee and appointed 12 apostles. Following that, the same day, Jesus gave the sermon on the mount. We spent several lessons on that. Now, Matthew and Luke both indicate that Jesus went into Capernaum AFTER descending from the mountain. We just covered that! The centurion's servant was healed in Capernaum and then THE NEXT DAY (get that?), according to what we just read in Luke 7:11, Jesus went to a city called Nain. Now, notice the location of Nain on your map in respect to Capernaum, the city where Jesus just left. Then, draw an imaginary line from Nain to Jerusalem. Notice that the imaginary line passes through that city of Samaria called Sychar, or city # 11 on your map where Jesus talked to the woman at the well on his way back into Galilee, John ch. 4. Notice, also, that Luke said here in v.ll, that "many of his disciples went with him, and much people." Alright now, here's my assumption. Please take note, this is an assumption, not a verified fact. But, I am inclined to think this is the time that Jesus may have been heading to Jerusalem for the passover. He is going in the right direction. The people who were with him were the people who would probably have gone with him to Jerusalem. Now, I am assuming this is the passover of AD 31 as a mere plausible possibility, at least. The passover, also called the feast of unleavened bread, was a required feast for all male Jews and the first feast of the season. Possibly about April on our calendar. As the weather had improved in Galilee; the crowds probably increased with better weather. But, another factor that may account for the great multitudes in recent days as discussed here; may have been, partly at least, the crowds that were naturally collecting and regrouping for the trip to Jerusalem. And part of those crowds may have been Jews who came from farther north and parts more distant than Galilee; but, came by way of Galilee. Some may have heard of the fame of Jesus as it had spread abroad and came for the purpose of seeing Jesus. Others may have merely stopped over a few hours as a natural rest stop.
But, as Jesus and his company approached the city of Nain, Luke tells of an incident that took place there. Let's read that, Luke 7:12 beginning. We're going to read down through v.17. Are you ready? "Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. 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. And this rumor of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the regions around about."
O.K. this is the first recorded case of Jesus raising the dead. But, before we consider this great miracle, let me call your attention to v.17 while it fresh on your mind. This rumor went forth to where? Judea. Do you see that? If the crowd was headed toward Jerusalem, that is the natural direction the rumor, as Luke calls it, would have drifted. Right? Look at your map! But, let's get our eyes back on v.12-17 and review this incident at Nain. When Jesus and his company came near to Nain they met what we would call a funeral procession. Now, get a focus on this! I would assume the cemetery or grave yard was outside the city wall. When they enquired about the body in the casket, we would say; they were told it was a young man (v.14) carried by pull-bearers. The man's father had preceded him in death and his mother was the only survivor. V.13 said, our Lord had compassion on the widow. Now, notice, His compassion was upon the living, NOT the dead. There are NO indications that Jesus was asked to restore this young man, as Jesus was asked to heal the centurion's servant. And, undoubtedly it was the LAST THING those in the funeral procession would have ever expected. The poll-bearers stopped, Jesus touched the coffin and said: "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." [snap!] And it was done! Can you imagine the expression on all those faces as that young man sat up and began to speak? (v.15)? And can you imagine all the emotions involved in that short sentence at the end of v.15? "And he delivered him to his mother?" And, then look at v.16, "there came a fear on all..." Then, notice the conclusion the crowd began to draw in the last of v.16. Let me ask you a question! What was the purpose of Jesus' miracle? To teach! To teach what? The divine nature of Jesus! The same thing that every miracle taught.
Now, from here I would like to go back to the book, of John for a change. John ch. 5! We're going to read the first 18 verses. Are you ready? John 5:1-18, let's read. "After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethes'da, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy ted, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou are made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God."
O.K. the rest of John ch. 5 is a sermon that Jesus gave on this occasion in response to what we have just read. But, right now, let's go back and review these 18 verses. Notice that the first verse in John ch. 5 said that this was a feast of the Jews, (that is) that was the reason JESUS WENT UP TO that big capital city of Jerusalem. But, nothing here says this was the passover feast; so, we cannot be sure on that point. But, the sequence in John's book is such that we cannot RULE OUT the possibility this was the passover of AD 31. These first 18 verses give us the setting for the speech that consumes the remainder of chapter five. So, let's see if we can get that setting firmly in mind in the moments we have left. The sheep market at Jerusalem would have been a very active place, I would think. You see, many of the travelers and especially those from distant lands of the empire must have purchased locally their animals for sacrifice at the temple, rather than transport them from their home land. So, I would assume that the sheep market was not far from the temple grounds. I don't know if they had auctions in those days or just how they went about pricing and displaying the sheep. That would be interesting. You will remember that at the passover of AD 30, we're assuming the year before, Jesus had cleansed the temple by driving out the commercializers from the temple (John 2:15), turning over the tables of the money changers, etc. Sheep and oxen are mentioned there as being IN THE TEMPLE on that occasion. Some think the sheep market was in the Kidron valley, north and east of the temple. But, wherever the sheep market was located there was a pool of water nearby having five enclosures or five sheltered areas. Although John wrote in Greek; he gave the Hebrew or Aramaic name for that pool as "Bethes'da." The first part of the word "beth" in Hebrew means: "house." The last part means "mercy." Thus, the literal meaning was HOUSE OF MERCY. And this agrees with v.3 which indicated that within these porches lay a great multitude of sick people. I guess I should tell you that most of the commentaries point out that the last phrase of v.3 and all of v.4 in the KJV may not be authentic, (that is) some of the older manuscript copies that have been found do NOT include this. The NIV simply skips this verse and leaves it out. The New American Standard Bible omits this verse but includes it in the marginal reference material. I think the point is simply this: there were no magical medical qualities about the waters of the Bethsda pool as such. But, this was a superstition widely published in that day. Thus, many who had fatal and dreaded diseases resorted there in hopes of some magical cure. But, the text here clearly indicates that the impotent man Jesus healed (having been diseased 38 years) believed in that legend. V.4 is essentially a statement of that legend, as it was circulated. But, EVEN in the text of the KJV there is NO definitive affirmation that the legend in v.4 is truth. John simply does not take the time and space to refute the superstition.
As to the troubled waters idea, you might be interested to know that some underground streams in that area have been reported in recent centuries to have intermittent flow, (that is) they operate on some principle similar to the geysers of Yellow Stone National Park. The waters apparently fill up underground cavities to a certain level. But, when that level is reached a syphoning effect (in response to gravitational force) is triggered and these underground storage cavities are syphoned down to the point where the syphoning action is broken and the cycle starts all over again. Intermittent flow was most likely NOT understood and some believed it was angelic action. But, as I said; John does NOT get into this. Jesus most likely healed others and possibly all the sick folks that were at Bethesda. However, John tells ONLY about one case, for the simple reason, that it lead to the sabbath keeping doctrine which brought Jesus and the Jews on a collision course that day. Embedded in this conflict is the setting or the framework for Jesus' speech that John records here in'v.19-47.
But, take the time to notice that very much like the widow's son at Nain, Jesus healed this man miraculously, instantly and completely. The man went away carrying his own bed. A man, who a few moments before, could NOT even put himself into the pool of Bethesda. So, this was not some hocus-pocus like you see on television today where they wheel'em in and wheel'em out. Jesus simply said the word, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." [snap!]. Can you imagine how stunned that man
himself was? Thirty-eight years this man had this infirmity according to v.5 and suddenly this man is walking. He must have thought; boy, I like this dream. Now, this happened on a Saturday, (that is) the sabbath day. The city was crowded with Jews from everywhere; just like any feast day. And, then there went a man carrying some kind of bed or palate. He didn't even know Jesus' name, we learn. Obviously, he did not know who Jesus was when Jesus spoke to him. But, I suppose he had hardly got
out of sight when some Pharisee said: Hey! Man! It's the sabbath day: "it's not lawful for thee to carry a bed." (v.10). So, when the man explained what had happened, the search began. Jesus had told the man to: "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." So, that man was not likely to put that bed down anytime soon. At a later time when the man saw Jesus in the temple, he alerted the Jews (v.15). Study the scene in v.16 just a moment. Those Jews were ready to kill Jesus. Why were the Jews so
up-set? Look at v.18, "the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God." That's a statement of the charges they brought against Jesus, you see. Now, I hope you understand, that Jesus DID NOT break the sabbath commandment. The point is, He broke the Phariseeiac traditions which were NOT scripture; although, the Pharisees considered them as authoritative as scripture. So, the theme of Jesus' speech is authority, — the authority of the Son of God. Keep that thought in mind; because, that's the theme of Jesus' sermon that follows. Because of the time limitation in this lesson; we're going to have to hold Jesus' speech for our next lesson. This is another great lesson like the sermon on the mount. A bit shorter, but very pointed and very direct. It probably answers a lot of questions that you've asked sometime or another. So, hurry back to our next lesson. Until then, have a good day!