The raising of the widow’s son

The raising of the widow’s son

Widow’s Son raised.

(The Gospel History, Section 54)

And it came to pass soon afterwards, that he went to a city called Nain; and his disciples went with him, and a great multitude. Now when he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, there was carried out one that was dead, 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 nigh and touched the bier: and the bearers 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 gave him to his mother. And fear took hold on all: and they glorified God, saying, A great prophet is arisen among us: and, God hath visited his people. And this report went forth concerning him in the whole of Judæa, and all the region round about.

The raising of the widow’s son

(The Saviour of the World, Vol III Book I Poem III)

A sorrowful procession filled the way
As Jesus came to Nain—with multitude,
Disciples and chance following;—those came
Adown the street to city gate, and sounds,
Mourning and lamentation, rose to God
To plead with Him for piteous woes of men,
Women left desolate with none to fend,
None tenderly to cherish. She, poor soul,
That widow in their midst, appealed to all,
Neighbours and kinsfolk, by her utter loss;
What was there left, her strong young son laid low
On bier they bore before her? Widow, she,
With none to get her bread and none to love!
So they all mournèd with her, kindly folk,
Whose utmost was to lift a cry to God:
But Hᴇ was very far; the youth was dead;
Would the great God do ought for a dead man
Should comfort weeping mother?

As they neared,

The mourners and their burden, city gate,—
Wherefrom the dead pass out to burial
In place remoter from the homes of men,—
Behold, another multitude drew near,
And, by the city gate, the two crowds met:
Pity was not so far from that sad soul,
The desolate Mother; God was not removed;
Hᴇ had compassion on her; bade them stand,
Who bare the bier; and the poor mother bade,
“Weep not!” Strangely arrested, stayed her tears,
E’en as do ours when He bids cease to weep.
And, He, the Lord, drew nigh and touched the bier,—
(With touch, held hope, for who would lightly touch
The defiling dead?) In sudden awe they wait,
The breathless multitude, nor know for what,
But omen they perceived—portending, sure,
Awful event, cognition unconceived,—
Checked pulse, stopped breath, of all the waiting crowd!

Where, Death, thy victory? He spake the word—
“Arise, young man, I say!”—And, lo, the ear,
Passed out of hearing of all mortal speech
To silence unimagined of the Dead,
Was not beyond the call of this one Voice:
“The Dead shall hear,” He had said, and this dead man
Heard, and forthwith obeyed; arose and spake!

Mother and son forgot by folk who heard,
An instant awful thought struck them to heart—
Should they not die? Had they not all their Dead?
Lo, here is One who holds the keys of Death,
Unlocks the dreadful door and summons back
One gone for evermore from wonted ways!
And each one in his heart,—I too shall die;
Within hearing of His voice shall I remain?
Terror of Death was chased from every heart
At thought of human speech to reach him there,
In uncongenial kingdom of the Dead!
No more as yet, but what a hope were here!
Continuance, friendly offices and help,—
If these, beyond the Grave, why fear to die?
With awe they gazed on Him who spake the word
That called the dead to Life: new hope was born,
And all their hope, embodied in that Man
Whose tones immediate reached to those unknown,
“Remote, unfriended” regions of the Dead!
Nay, reached with word of Life! The Dead can live,
And this Man hath the keys of Life and Death!
One kingdom they, an easy way between;
And, if One rule the twain—why fear to die?

Thus Christ restored the widow’s son to life
And dropped a seed should grow in many hearts
Though none brought faith or prayer to woo His deed:
The dead, can they have faith? Grief hath no room;
And all the crowd had pity, but not faith;
The Lord of His sweet bounty gave them that,
Conditions other gifts; now, had they faith.
What of the young man? He must follow, sure,
That Saviour who had called him from the dead?
Christ gave him to his mother: once again
She had a man from the Lord; at first, a babe,
And now the strong young son who wrought for her!
Was ever mother thankful like to this?
Was ever mother joyful as was she?
City of Nain had witness in its midst
Should yet proclaim the Name of Him who spake,
And, lo, the dead man rose and was alive!
He, the young man, what questionings of him;
What wonder and desire searched his heart,—
The Dead, did they in truth go on with life,
E’en as did he? And, dead and living both,
Had they one Master, able to command
Them, whither they should go, what they should do?

More than their own concerns of death and life,
The people thought upon the Lord, and feared:
“Behold,” said they, “a prophet, in our midst
Has risen to us, unworthy, praised be God!”
All through Judæa the great news was spread
By tongues of those who saw and those who heard,
And all men knew,—God, come among His folk!

St. Luke vii. 11-17.