Home > Ministerial Spouses Association > Ministry Stories >
The Widow of Nain

Dear Friends,

When I do my personal devotions, I type my responses, thoughts and prayers. It helps me focus and connect with Jesus. I have been looking at all of the places in the New Testament where Jesus touched people, and the result of that touch. It has been a huge blessing to me, and I thought I might share one of the stories.

Cheryl Knowles



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. (Lk 7:12–15).

[Story taken from Luke 7:11–16 and The Desire of Ages, pp. 318–320]

This woman did not request Your help nor, as far as we know, did any petition arise from her heart. She probably didn't even see You through her tears, and wouldn't have recognized You if she had. But Your sympathetic heart knew what she needed, and answered her unspoken need. Just like You do now.

Did You come that way for the sole purpose of bringing joy to this heartbroken woman? I suspect that You did, given the 25 miles that you walked from Capernium, where you had been the day before, and the perfect timing in meeting the funeral procession as it came out of the village. It would be like You.

As Jesus, and the large crowd with Him, climb the steep and rocky hill toward Nain, they see a funeral procession — just out of the village gate — coming toward them, carrying a bier. He understands the situation at once, and his sympathy reaches out to meet the sympathy of the mourner's for the mother who tearfully stumbles behind the dead form of her only son. He was her last means of physical and emotional support. Her only child? We do not know.

Did You come up close beside her and put Your arm around her as You gently said, "Weep not." You touched the bier; did You touch her?

Did this mother of her only, now dead son make You look to the future anguish of Your own mother? Did it draw You forward to see You and Your Father’s anguish at the separation between You and Him?

Jesus stepped forward, touched the hand of the still form on the open bier and said, with authority:

"'Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.' That voice pierces the ears of the dead. The young man opens his eyes. Jesus takes him by the hand, and lifts him up." —The Desire of Pages, p. 318

I would love to have been standing by the bier. The young man opens his eyes, as from healing sleep, and looks into the kindest eyes he has ever seen. Jesus, still holding him by the hand, lifts him up and places his hand in the wet-with-tears hands of his mother.

(An aside: I wonder when the pallbearers realized that the corpse they were carrying was alive. Giggle. Just wondering. I have a vivid picture of strong, manly limbs collapsed, under the bier, from fright. Either that, or, strong manly legs, made stronger by terror, churning like pistons away from the scene. Well, it says, "And there came a fear on all...")

What a reunion! The young man stares at Jesus, his mom, the hushed crowd, and wonders what it all means. The last he remembered he was terribly sick in his darkened room at home.

Mom, stunned and speechless, stares into the now clear and alive eyes of her son. Then they fall into each other’s arms in a rapturous embrace! What a reunion! With that embrace, as with a flip of a switch, the hushed crowd found voice and began talking, shouting and singing their praise to God. Maybe some, too happy to stand still, danced their praise. I would have.

The story of Jesus raising the dead to life spread like wildfire throughout all Judea and beyond. As long as they lived, and from generation to generation, the people of Nain never tired of telling/hearing the story of Jesus and how He had raised the widow of Nain's son from death to life.

Cheryl KnowlesCheryl Knowles met her future husband, Merlin, when she was 12 years old, and they developed a brother/sister relationship for several years until they decided to date at Walla Walla College (where Cheryl graduated with a B.S. in Child and Family Studies). They were married in 1978. The Knowleses pastored in the Idaho and Northern New England conferences, and now live in Montana where Merlin serves as president of the Montana Conference. They have been involved with family ministries for the past 30 years.

Cheryl used to have an active lifestyle, and liked to play racketball, hike, snow and water ski, and ride dirt bikes and horses. Because of multiple sclerosis, she has chosen to embrace a quieter lifestyle. Cheryl still enjoys motorized bicycling, gardening, entertaining, reading, knitting, crocheting, embroidering, tatting, sewing and writing down her blessings. Her writings have evolved into a ministry to the community as the local newspaper is publishing them. Cheryl likes to travel with Merlin, when she can, and takes her handwork along. She has been married to her wonderfully-supportive husband for 35 years. They have two grown sons, their wives (now their daughters) and two grandchildren. Pepper, a Schnauzer, is Cheryl's joyful, little companion. A wonderful life!