Compassion to Action

Footsteps of Jesus

Luke 7:12-15 (New American Standard Bible)
Now as Jesus approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizable crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” And he came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

This woman had already lost one provider: her husband. But she had no doubt been reassured in her widowhood that her son would continue as her protector. The baby she had cared for had grown up into a young man. Now he was gone, as well, and her hope had vanished with him. In that society, with no husband or son to care for her, she would be at the mercy of more distant relatives — if there was anyone at all who would claim her. No wonder she was weeping.

Unlike many of the other times we’ve seen Jesus heal, the widow didn’t approach Jesus. No one petitioned him on her behalf, asking him to help this poor woman. Wrapped deep in mourning, the widow may not have even noticed Jesus passing by with his entourage. But Jesus saw her distress, and was moved to speak to her. He said, “Do not weep.” This wasn’t lack of empathy on Jesus’ part, or discomfort with the woman’s emotions. No, Jesus was full of compassion for her, and wanted her to see God’s love and provision for her in the midst of her grief. He told her not to weep because her life was about to be changed forever. Jesus spoke, and her son was given back to her.

James 1:27 tells us: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress.” 

At its core, this interaction is not about a man being raised from the dead. It is about the powerful love of a God who would be willing to care for the plight of a hopeless, grieving widow.

How can you work with God to provide support for people in need on the fringes of our society?

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