At this point in Jesus' ministry, He is quite popular. Large crowds have followed him since the choosing of His twelve apostles.
Most cities had walls for protection and gates to enter through. Only in rare exceptions were bodies buried inside a town (e.g., II Kings 16:20; 21:18,26). This was likely to help prevent accidental contact with the dead, which would result in uncleanness (Num. 19:11ff).
As Jesus and His disciples prepare to enter Nain, a dead man was being carried out. The death of an only son will always cause extreme sorrow (cf. Jer. 6:26; Zech. 12:10), but this case is even worse in that the mother was a widow. It is possible that she was dependent upon her son for support. This son had likely comforted her in the loss of her husband. But, now that both have died, who will give her comfort? Jesus will!
It is doubtful that the Lord had ever seen this woman before, but He had compassion on her (Luke 7:13). He first encouraged her not to weep, but He would soon give her a sufficient reason for stopping (cf. James 2:15,16).
The bearers "stood still" who were carrying the "open coffin" as Jesus touched it (Luke 7:14). The coffin was probably a stretcher made of boards on which the wrapped body of the deceased lay. There must have been a dignity and air of authority in Jesus in order for the bearers to stop in the middle of such a solemn procession.
In Luke 7:15, Jesus brought the man back to life through the power of His words! There are two other similar examples, but both happen after this one chronologically (cf. Matt. 9:18-26; John 11). In each case, Jesus gave a personal call to the individual. Some have suggested that this was done to prevent all of the dead from rising (which will happen one day according to John 5:28,29)! As far as I can recall, there are a total of nine accounts of restoration to life recorded in the Bible (cf. I Kings 17:17-24; II Kings 4:32-37; 13:20,21; Matt. 27:52,53; 28:1ff; Acts 9:36-42). Jesus' resurrection differs from all others in that He was raised to never die again (cf. I Cor. 15:20).
After Jesus spoke, the young man sat up and began speaking. This indicated that he was alive and his health and strength had been restored.
Luke 7:16 conveys the result this miracle had on the people - "Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, 'A great prophet has risen up among us'." The magnitude of this miracle caused the people to think back to Elijah and Elisha, great prophets of God who raised the dead. They believe that Jesus is a great prophet and that God is visiting them again as He did through the prophets of old. It is doubtful, however, that they realized the full significance of their statement at that time - "God has visited His people" (cf. John 1:1,14). The great crowd that witnessed this miracle quickly spread the news abroad (Luke 7:17).
Praise be to God that Jesus is "the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25) and that He will "visit" His people again on that final day of judgment. Are you ready for that day?