The Book of Luke, The Raising of the Widow’s Son and John the Baptist’s question – Lesson 85
Luke 7:14-17, And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. 15And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. 16And 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. 17And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about. 18And the disciples of John showed him of all these things.
The miracle of the raising from the dead the only son of the widow of Nain, in the sight of multitudes was met with fear and the giving of glory to God.
It was also concluded that because of this miracle, and I suppose the accounts of other miracles that went before Jesus, that a great prophet had risen up among them.
This people of Israel had an heritage of prophets that had also been involved in the raising of dead men to life.
So they concluded that this was another of the great prophets risen up by God.
But in this they were wrong for this man Jesus did not raise up men in the likeness of the prophets of old for he simply raised them up by his word and his word alone.
The raising of the son of the widow of Nain was not done by a prophet of the likes of Elijah or Elisha but was done by the Prophet whose coming was foretold in the Old Testament and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
This was the Prophet that was foretold 1500 years prior to this time in:
Deut 18:15, The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
This Prophet was not to copy the time-consuming raising from the dead that Elijah and Elisha performed but the raising from the dead that the Lord Jesus Christ performed was an instantaneous raising in public view simply in obedience to his word.
And what was the reaction of both crowds?
16And 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.
Both crowds, the crowd coming with Christ to Nain and the funeral crowd coming out of Nain, seemed to burst out with joy and praise to God.
Halleluiahs, Praise the Lord, Glories to God were heard because of this unsurpassed raising from the dead.
The witnesses to this miracle feared God and were quick to acknowledge that Jesus was at the least a great prophet.
This acknowledgment that a prophet was in their midst did not exclude Him from being Messiah, though neither did it acknowledge Him as the Messiah.
How hard it is for people to recognize that Jesus Christ is God.
How hard it is to give him glory and to lift him up.
Just like these crowds who said: that a great prophet is risen up among us not recognizing that just by commanding this young man, to, arise” this man was now alive.
It certainly was not done in the likeness of Elijah and Elisha
Elijah and Elisha implored the Lord thru prayer to raise up the dead sons but this Jesus simply commanded this dead son to rise up for he himself is the Resurrection and He is the life and because of this he is the giver of life.
He did not ask his father to raise up this man for he had the power to do so by his word.
And Luke tells us in verse 17: And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.
What is this rumor?
This rumor is the word that a great prophet has risen up among them.
The word rumor is from the Greek word, “Logos” which simply means something said, by implication, a topic, a subject of discourse.
In other words because of this miracle, the word spread throughout the region that a great prophet was now in their midst.
But it is clear that these crowds failed to see the true greatness of this Prophet.
The way this raising took place, the simplicity of the raising of this dead boy simply by the word of the Lord Jesus Christ should have opened their eyes.
It should have opened their eyes to the fact that standing in their midst was not just one of the old prophets risen from the dead, not just a great prophet, but the one and only Son of God himself.
Their conclusion should have been: This is the Messiah, this is God himself.
The two miracles of Chapter 7, the healing of the centurion’s son and the raising of the widow’s son, testify to the fact that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah.
No prophet had ever surpassed or even equaled these miracles.
But Jesus did not dismiss that rumor, he did not try to suppress that word that went about the region by declaring himself to be the Messiah.
And therefore these miracles prepare the scene for the question of John the Baptist, which is introduced in the next part of Chapter 7.
Luke connects John’s questioning with these events by telling us in verse 18:
And the disciples of John showed him of all these things.
These events therefore connect us to John the Baptist. John the Baptist had been taken into custody by Herod Antipas. He had been locked up in a prison that was a part of one of the palaces.
But this event we are about to read shows us that he was allowed to receive visitors, including his own disciples.
Luke 7:19-23, And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? 20When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? 21And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. 22Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 23And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
The question that this passage prompts is why did John ask this question at this time?
It is apparent that this question, “Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?” is connected to the rumor of him that went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.
This rumor was enough of an upset to John to prompt him to wonder if this man Jesus is the Messiah or is he not the Messiah.
There is an antsy-ness, there is an impatience on the part of John given to us by this question as it relates to the rumor that had gone about that this Jesus is a great prophet and he is healing the sick and raising the dead.
There is in this question a prompting by John to Jesus to get on with it and to announce to Israel that he is the Messiah and squelch this rumor that goes about proclaiming him to be a great prophet.
Jesus himself declares later in this chapter that there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist but we must remember that John is not perfect as Jesus is perfect.
And from this question we can see that John is not perfect.
Up to this point in scripture we can find no fault in John the Baptist but at this time in his life in prison we can find fault in John because of this question.
John has already identified Jesus as the Messiah; He has already said that Jesus must increase and that he must decrease.
He is the one who even encouraged some of his disciples to become Jesus’ disciples.
He will die the death of a martyr and it is hard to speak of him in any way that would blemish his reputation.
John the Baptist was a great man, but he was not a perfect man.
This seems to be the worst moment of John’s life, so far as the biblical record is concerned.
For when he was told of the word that was spreading throughout Israel that Jesus was a great prophet he began to doubt his own message of Jesus’ Messiah-ship.
He wondered why this rumor was being allowed to spread.
Why does not this man declare himself?
So he sent two of his disciples to Jesus with this question,
(Luke 7:19, 20). Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
Note in this passage the repetition of this question.
John tells his servants to ask this question.
Luke tells us that the servants faithfully asked it of Jesus in the same manner it was asked by John.
Luke tells us by relating it this way that it was clearly John’s question and not a question that the servants of John came up with.
It is also apparent that this question resulted from some unhappiness on John’s part as to what Jesus was doing as reported by John’s servants.
Luke 7:18, And the disciples of John showed him of all these things.
The two miracles recorded in the previous verses of chapter seven—the healing of the Centurion’s servant and the raising of the widow’s son from the dead—would surely have been included in the report which was given to John.
Clearly, John was not altogether pleased with the reports he was receiving as to what Jesus had been saying and doing.
And I believe that question which John sent to Jesus via his two disciples revealed John’s unhappiness.
For apparently John did not see the ministry of Jesus Christ as the ministry of the Messiah and he therefore questions this Jesus as to who he is.
Basically he is saying, “You do not match up with my conception of what the Messiah will be like.”
John does not question the fact that Messiah will come.
John questions whether this Jesus is the coming Messiah.
And this is even in light of his own words to the contrary in the past:
For John the Apostle records this saying of John the Baptist
John 1:32-34, And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
There is nothing casual about the scriptures.
This is not a casual question by John.
It is a serious question to which John wants a definitive answer.
He is expecting deliverance by the Messiah.
He is expecting judgment by the Messiah.
This was the same John who preached in: Luke 3:7-9, Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 9And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
And this man Jesus is raising the dead, healing the sick, preaching salvation and this does not match John’s conception of the Messiah.
But John does not understand the two comings of Jesus.
This is not the time for God’s wrath; this is the time for God’s grace.
John has a dispensational problem.
What John missed was this: he failed to discern that this prophesy of doom would go into fulfillment not now but at Christ’s second coming.
So John’s question is a public challenge.
The question, once again, is this: “Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? Luke7:19, 20.
The “we,” in light of the whole account, would seem to include not only John and his followers, but the crowd which I believe was present at the time the question was put to Jesus.
It seems that the “we” in the question is equivalent to “Israel.”
The fact that Jesus responded to a crowd about John also suggests that the question was put to Jesus publicly.
But John the Baptist was looking for a definitive answer for he clearly implied that if he did not get the answer he and the others will start looking for another Messiah.
So we clearly see that John is not following Jesus but is trying to force him into declaring Himself as Messiah, and acting as the Messiah John the Baptist had expected.
In Matthew 11:12-13 Jesus talks about the kingdom of heaven being taken by force.
Matt. 11:12-13, And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.