More good stuff today in Luke 8! I enjoyed seeing the importance of a certain group of women to Jesus. The parable of the soils is always very thought provoking. I am challenged as Jesus describes his true family. He shows his power over nature by calming a storm. What a sight when the demons are removed from a poor guy into a herd of pigs! It’s amazing that a woman gets healed just by touching Jesus’ clothing and that he raises another person from the dead!
Thanks for spending this time with Jesus each day. I pray that you are moved and convicted as I have been. As you read today’s chapter you may have a question, the commentary provided here is a good place to look for answers and further discussion. Please use what is necessary for your understanding and study.
The Life Application sections are throughout. I always enjoy the insights from them. I hope you will too.
Women Accompany Jesus and the Disciples / 8:1-3
In a culture where women played invisible roles, the fact that Luke mentioned the support of three women and highlighted a number of women in his Gospel indicates the interest Luke took in showing how women were involved in Jesus’ ministry.
8:1-3 Jesus continued his mission to announce the Good News concerning the Kingdom of God (see 4:43; 7:22). The twelve disciples (named in 6:13-16) traveled with him—Jesus poured much of his ministry into them. As Jesus traveled and preached the Good News, he was also training the Twelve, preparing them for future ministry. The picture of women traveling with Jesus and his disciples would have been completely uncharacteristic of rabbis in ancient times. Rabbis refused to teach women because they were generally considered to be inferior. Jesus, however, lifted women up from degradation and servitude to the joy of fellowship and service. By allowing these women to travel with him, Jesus was showing that all people are equal under God. These women supported Jesus’ ministry with their own money. They owed a great debt to him because he had healed some of them and had cast out evil spirits from others.
Mary Magdalene was from a town called Magdala or Magadan (see Matthew 15:39). Jesus had cast out seven demons from her. The number of demons indicates the severity of the possession from which Jesus freed her. Mary stayed at the cross, went to the tomb, and was the first person to see the resurrected Christ (24:10; Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1, 9; John 19:25; 20:1, 18).
Joanna was the wife of Chuza, who was Herod’s business manager (or steward). He may have been in charge of one of Herod Antipas’s estates. Joanna is also mentioned in 24:10 as one of the women, along with Mary Magdalene, who told the disciples the news of Jesus’ resurrection. Otherwise, nothing else is known of her; Joanna’s husband is mentioned only here. Perhaps Luke’s Gentile readers knew of this man and the exact nature of the office that he held. Susanna is found nowhere else in Scripture, and nothing is known about her. Perhaps Luke highlighted these three women because they would have been known to his readers.
Besides these women there were many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples. This provides an insight into how Jesus and his disciples met their basic needs. John 13:29 reveals that Jesus and the disciples had a common pool of money from which they bought food and gave to the poor, and that Judas Iscariot acted as treasurer. This passage tells the origin of that pool of money. People, like the women listed here, gave money to Jesus and the disciples out of gratefulness for what Jesus had done for them.
- LIFE APPLICATION-NO RESPECTOR OF SEX OR CLASS
- Luke’s Gospel in particular highlights the positive role that women played in Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus showed women great respect and compassion, as he did others who were oppressed and downtrodden. When you meet those who are different than you—minorities, people of different economic levels, members of the opposite sex—show them the same dignity and compassion Jesus did.
Jesus Tells the Parable of the Four Soils / 8:4-8
Jesus began teaching in parables to get his listeners to think. These parables hid the truth from those who had their minds made up, having already chosen to reject Jesus. Yet those who truly wanted to know Jesus could listen carefully and learn more about the Kingdom of God.
8:4 Jesus often communicated spiritual truth through short stories or descriptions that take a familiar object or situation and give it a startling new twist—often called “parables.” Jesus’ parables compelled listeners to discover the truth for themselves, and they concealed the truth from those too lazy or dull to understand.
8:5 In this parable, Jesus used a familiar picture to illustrate an important truth about the Kingdom of Heaven. In ancient times, when a farmer went out to plant some seed, he walked across the field and scattered handfuls of seed from a large bag slung across his shoulders. The farmer scattered the seed liberally—and some seed fell on a footpath. The hard and compacted soil of the path meant that the seed did not sink into the ground and so it sat on top where it was stepped on and where the birds came and ate it. In 8:12 Jesus explains that the devil comes and takes away the gospel message from hard hearts so that those people cannot hear or be saved.
Jesus was speaking to the crowds about the Kingdom, explaining through this parable that the religious leaders’ rejection of the Messiah did not change the truth. Jesus and the gospel were truth; there was no problem with them as there was no problem with the farmer or his seed. The only variable was the land (or the hearts) where the seed (the message) fell.
- LIFE APPLICATION – FOR THE UNRECEPTIVE?
- In this story of the farmer and the seed, the farmer sows the seed on all kinds of soil, seemingly indiscriminately. No wise farmer would sow seed in thorns or on a path. Is he simply careless, wasteful, or perhaps unskilled? No—the farmer knows that some of the soil is unproductive, but he willingly scatters the seed on it anyway. God is like this farmer, allowing his words and his love to fall on many who will not receive them. And yet he is still willing to pour out his mercies upon them. God knows the high potential of this seed. Believers sometimes tend to pull back from those who are uninterested or even just different—but God doesn’t. Seek to emulate his extravagant love for the seemingly unreceptive.
8:6 Other handfuls of seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The footpath had no soil at all. But on the shallow soil, the seed began to grow. This type of soil was probably found in every farmer’s field—most of the land in Palestine is very rocky, filled with stones of all sizes. Soil on top of rocks traps the moisture so that plants can grow quickly, but the roots cannot go deep. The hot sun then dries up the water, causing the young plant to wither and die for lack of moisture. In 8:13, Jesus explains that those with hearts like this may hear the word and at first receive it with joy. But, like the crowds who followed, when the going gets tough, they fall away.
8:7 Thorns rob sprouts of nutrition, water, light, and space. Thus, when the thorns grew (weeds grow faster than wheat), the good seed was choked out and could not grow to maturity. In 8:14, Jesus explains that those with “thorny” hearts may receive the message, but then find it choked out by life’s worries and attractions.
- LIFE APPLICATION – SPREAD THE MESSAGE
- The farmer is using the acceptable method of hand-seeding a large field—tossing it by handfuls as he walks through the field. His goal is to get as much seed as possible to take root in good soil, but there is inevitable waste as some falls or is blown into less productive areas. That some of the seed produced no crop was not the fault of the faithful farmer or of the seed. The yield depended on the condition of the soil where the seed fell. It is the believers’ responsibility to spread the seed (God’s message), but they should not give up when some of their efforts fail. Remember, not every seed falls on good soil.
8:8 Some seed may be lost, but other seed fell on fertile soil. This soil had been plowed by the farmer and the seed had ample sunlight, depth, and moisture to be able to grow. The seed produced a crop one hundred times as much as had been planted. Normal yield for good seed would be seven- to ten-fold. Any farmer would be overjoyed at such a tremendous yield, for it would mean even more seed to plant and harvest during the next year. In 8:15 Jesus explains that “fertile soil” people are those disciples who hear the word, hold on to it, and share it with others.
Jesus understood that not everyone who heard him speak would listen and understand, referring to a different kind of hearing, a deep listening with the mind and heart that opens a person to spiritual understanding. Jesus’ words, like the farmer’s seed, fell on various types of hearts.
Jesus Explains the Parable of the Four Soils / 8:9-18
The meaning of the parable of the four soils reinforces Jesus’ differentiation between those who are given the secrets of the Kingdom and those who are not. The secrets of God’s Kingdom are for those whom God has prepared.
8:9-10 This explanation probably occurred after Jesus and the disciples were away from the crowd. “Disciples” here probably refers to the Twelve and other true followers, such as the women described in 8:1-3. As soon as they were alone with Jesus, his followers asked him what the story (told in 8:4-8) meant. Jesus’ stories were not always easy to understand, even to those closest to Jesus. The disciples may have thought that they should have understood the story without an explanation.
Jesus explained first that understanding of the secrets of the Kingdom of God comes as a gift to those he has chosen. That this knowledge is permitted reveals God’s sovereignty. The word translated “secrets” refers to the “hidden” revelation of God, given to his true people at the proper time. The Kingdom of God was like an unknown secret to the prophets of the Old Testament—they wrote about it, but they did not understand it (as Romans 16:25-26 explains). The believers received spiritual insight that illuminated the secret so that it was no longer a mystery to them.
The parables allowed Jesus to give spiritual food to those who hungered for it. Isaiah’s prophecy explains the situation of the outsiders. God told Isaiah that people would hear without understanding, and see without perceiving (Isaiah 6:9). That kind of reaction confronted Jesus. By quoting the prophet Isaiah, Jesus was telling his inner group of followers that the crowd resembled the Israelites about whom Isaiah had written. God had told Isaiah that the people would listen but not learn from his message because their hearts had hardened beyond repentance. Yet God still sent Isaiah with the message because, even though the nation itself would not repent and would reap judgment, some individuals would listen. Jesus came to the Israelites hundreds of years after Isaiah, but the words to Isaiah still applied. Most would not repent because their hearts were hardened; but a few would listen, turn from their sins, and believe.
- LIFE APPLICATION- HARD SOIL, HARDER HEARTS
- Have you ever had the experience of trying to explain your faith in Christ to another person, only to have that person look at you as though you were from some other planet? You may not have communicated very clearly what Jesus means to you. Or perhaps the other person’s heart was too hard to allow your words to penetrate. Jesus said that some people’s hearts are like a packed-down, foot-trampled path, too hard to let God’s Word take root. Satan has great success with those who refuse to listen. Prayerfully wait until you sense a more opportune time—perhaps when life has softened these hearts a bit more through suffering, loss, or even great blessing.
8:11-12 Jesus’ closest followers may not have immediately understood the meaning of his parable, but that did not mean they were hard-hearted. Jesus explained that the seed that the farmer sowed represents God’s message to the people—the Good News of the Kingdom. The seed that fell on the hard path represents those, like the religious leaders, who hear, but the message cannot penetrate their hearts. The element of spiritual warfare is revealed here because the Devil himself comes and steals the message and prevents them from believing and being saved. “Footpath” people, like many of the religious leaders, refused to believe God’s message. Satan locked their minds and hearts and threw away the key. Though not beyond God’s reach, their hardness will make it very difficult for them to ever believe.
8:13 Those who are like rocky soil are those who hear the message with joy. These people believe for a while, but Jesus explains that their roots don’t go very deep, so when difficulty comes, they fall away.
- LIFE APPLICATION-SOLID OR SHALLOW?
- If you come to Jesus simply expecting him to solve your problems or make your life more enjoyable—you have bought into a very watered-down imitation of Christianity.
- It is why some people latch on to the gospel with great enthusiasm at first, only to bail out when the initial excitement wears off. They are the people whose hearts are like the rocky soil, more shallow than solid. Is your faith the kind that will stand when “the thrill is gone”? Ask God to help you grow.
8:14 The same seed also fell in the thorny ground. These people hear and accept the message. But as they go on their way, the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. These distractions and conflicts rob new believers of growth—they do not spend time in God’s word or with God’s people. So even though the seed has grown, it can never grow into maturity. Daily routines overcrowd and materialistic pursuits distract them, choking out God’s word so that it yields nothing.
- LIFE APPLICATION- SEEDS AND WEEDS
- An old story says that Satan called in one of his most effective demons for a chat. This demon had personally overseen the ruin of thousands upon thousands of souls. “What’s your secret, little brother?” asked Satan. “I tell them to get serious about God,” replied the demon. “I tell them they need to open their hearts to Christ. I tell them to repent of their sins and follow Jesus.” “You tell them what?!?” exploded Satan
- “I tell them they need to do all these things . . . tomorrow,” he answered with a sly grin.
- Take a moment and consider what seems so important to you right now. The things you work day and night for, the goals you try to attain—how meaningful are they in the context of eternity? Are they truly important, or are they merely “weeds” that choke out the priorities that really matter?
8:15 Of course, some of the seed falls on good soil or the farmer would not plant in that area at all. Good soil can be found—hearts open to the gospel message wherever the seed of God’s word is sown. Those with hearts like “good soil” are those who hear God’s message, cling to it, and steadily produce a huge harvest. These people have truly believed and are willing to let Jesus make a difference in their lives. Because of this, they also “produce a harvest” because they are willing to share what Jesus has done for them.
Sometimes people’s lives can represent several different types of soil at once. A person may react like good soil to God’s teaching regarding one part of life, but be “thorny” in another area. Believers are called to be like “good soil” all the time in all areas of life. Then God can continue to teach them, they can continue to mature, and they can share the message with others.
- LIFE APPLICATION- GOOD SOIL
- By now the point to Jesus’ parable should be apparent. The seed is the gospel, the Word of God; the sower is Jesus, or those who represent him; the various kinds of soils are people’s hearts. How can the type of soil in someone’s heart be identified? By the fruit produced. There’s no faking this.
*What are you producing? Is your life more like Christ with the passing of time? Do you reach others for him or care about reaching others?
8:16 These listeners would have understood Jesus’ refere nce to a lamp as being a lighted wick in a clay bowl that was full of oil. It would be ludicrous to light a lamp and then cover it up or put it under a bed. A lit lamp is meant to light up the room.
8:17 Although the truth may be hidden or kept secret for a while, it will not remain so. One day the truth will be brought to light and made plain to all. Jesus was speaking of the days of his ministry as the time of using parables and being rejected by many. The time of revelation and coming to light could refer either to Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (when his followers would fully understand his words) or the Second Coming. Jesus’ followers did not understand everything about Jesus at that time, but one day all their questions would be answered.
- LIFE APPLICATION – LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE
- When the light of the truth about Jesus illuminates a person, it is his or her duty to shine that light to help others. Witness for Christ should be public, not hidden. Believers should not keep the benefits for themselves, but pass them on to others. To hide the truth is foolish and unproductive. We must not blend so well with our non-Christian friends and neighbors that our faith remains invisible to them. In order to be helpful, believers should be well placed. Take Christ’s light out into the world. Seek opportunities to be available when unbelievers need help. Seek ways to let your light shine so that others may see it.
8:18 Because the teachings in the parables were so important for his followers to understand, Jesus warned them to pay attention. They needed to listen with understanding and then apply what Jesus said to their daily lives. To the people who listen and understand, more understanding will be given because their openness and perception of the Kingdom message will bring great rewards. They will continue to grow because they let God’s word make a difference in their lives. Ultimately, of course, they will receive eternal blessings.
Those who are not listening will lose whatever they had—it will be taken away. Jesus’ words here may have been directed to the Jews who had no understanding of Jesus and would lose even what they had—that is, their privileged status as God’s people. Or Jesus might have meant that when people reject him, their hardness of heart drives away or renders useless even the little understanding they had.
Jesus Describes His True Family / 8:19-21
Jesus’ proverbial remark, that his true family members are those who listen to God’s word and obey it, reinforces the point of the preceding sections (8:8, 15, 18).
8:19-20 Jesus’ mother was Mary (1:30-31), and his brothers were the other children Mary and Joseph had after Jesus was born (see also Mark 6:3-4). According to Mark, the reason Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him was because they thought he was out of his mind (Mark 3:21). His mother and brothers couldn’t get to him because of the crowds. Apparently Mary had gathered her family, and they had gone to find Jesus. Mary was hoping to use her personal relationship with Jesus to influence him. Standing at the edge of the crowd, Mary and the brothers relayed a message to Jesus. They thought that because of their relationship with him, he would make his way out to see them.
8:21 Jesus respectfully declined his family’s request. He was not severing ties with his earthly family. Through this incident, Jesus gave another lesson to his followers by explaining that spiritual relationships are as binding as physical ones. This would be the basis for the new community that Jesus was building—his disciples. Therefore, Jesus told them that his mother and brothers, that is, those closest to him, are all those who hear the message of God and obey it. Jesus offers people an intimate family relationship with him.
- LIFE APPLICATION – FAMILY TIES
- What comes to mind when you hear the word “family”? For many, the word recalls happy memories. For others, the associations aren’t so pleasant. Whatever your biological family is like, following Jesus means that you are part of the worldwide family of God. This family isn’t perfect; brothers and sisters in Christ have their rough edges and idiosyncrasies. But it should give great comfort to know that this family, with God the Father as the head, God the Son as the elder brother, and God the Holy Spirit as the “family tie,” will one day be perfected together. Until then, believers must try to keep family squabbles under control, lest they reflect badly on the Father who loved them enough to make them his adopted children.
The types of people who can have a relationship with Christ are those who do the Father’s will. They listen, learn, believe, and follow.
Obedience is the key to being part of God’s family. Knowledge is not enough—the religious leaders had that and still missed Jesus. Hanging around is not enough—the crowd did that but still didn’t understand who Jesus was. Those who believe are brought into a family. In these words, Jesus was explaining that in his spiritual family, relationships are ultimately more important and longer-lasting than those formed in one’s physical family.
- LIFE APPLICATION -GROW
- Jesus encouraged his disciples to pay close attention to his words. Applying God’s Word helps believers grow. A muscle, when exercised, will grow stronger, but an unused muscle will grow weak and flabby. If you are not growing stronger, you are growing weaker; it is impossible for you to stand still. How are you using what God has taught you?
Jesus Calms the Storm / 8:22-25
Following a section emphasizing obedience and faith in God’s word, Luke placed a powerful demonstration of Jesus’ supernatural power. Only God controls nature (Psalm 107:23-32), and here Jesus demonstrated his complete control over the wind and the sea, leaving his disciples thoroughly dumbfounded.
8:22 Jesus asked his disciples to cross over to the other side of the lake. Capernaum sat on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee (also called a “lake” because it is inland). So Jesus and the disciples got into a boat (perhaps Peter’s fishing boat) and began to cross to the eastern shore. Jesus’ ministry was never without purpose. He was crossing the lake in order to enter a new area of ministry. Along the way, the disciples would be taught an unforgettable lesson about his power.
8:23 Mark explained that it was evening when they finally set sail (Mark 4:35). Setting sail in the evening was not unusual because Peter was used to fishing at night (see John 21:3). As the boat set out, Jesus fell asleep.
That a fierce storm developed was not necessarily unusual. The Sea of Galilee is relatively small (13 miles long, 7 miles wide), 150 feet deep, and the shoreline is 680 feet below sea level. Storms appear suddenly over the surrounding mountains, stirring the water into violent twenty-foot waves. The disciples had not foolishly set out in a storm. They usually did not encounter storms at night and did not see this one coming. Even though several of these men were experienced fishermen and knew how to handle a boat, they had been caught without warning by this squall and they were in real danger.
- LIFE APPLICATION STORM-READY FAITH
- Almost anyone can sail a boat across a calm, glassy lake. But the Sea of Galilee was known for its sudden, fierce squalls. Several of the disciples were fishermen who had spent their lives on and around it, and they knew it could be treacherous. Still, they probably felt confident enough in transporting Jesus from one side to the other . . . until the wind and the waves knocked the courage out of them. It is easy to criticize the disciples for not trusting their Master at that point, but would your faith handle a seemingly life-threatening situation any better? Those crises will come; it’s not a matter of if, but when. Is your faith ready for the storm? Resolve now that by God’s grace, you will trust in him, not just when it’s easy, but all the time.
8:24 The disciples were in great danger, so they went to Jesus, waking him to tell him that they were all going to drown! Jesus rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The verb “rebuked” may indicate that there was an evil force behind the storm because the Greek words are the same as Jesus used when he told the demons to be silent. With his rebuke, the storm stopped and all was calm.
8:25 Jesus’ words to the disciples, floating in their boat on the now-quiet sea, were simply, “Where is your faith?” They ought not to have been afraid—they were with Jesus. They had seen him heal people, but power over a furious storm may not have crossed their minds. But they should have readily made the connection and have come to Jesus in faith, not in fear. This demonstration of power filled them with awe and amazement.
They asked the question to which they should have known the answer, “Who is this man?” This miracle clearly displayed Jesus’ divine identity. Yet despite all that they had seen and heard thus far, and despite their love for Jesus, they still did not grasp that he was himself God, and thus had power and authority over all of creation.
- LIFE APPLICATION- WHO’S IN CHARGE?
- All people want to be in control of their lives and circumstances. If they are in good health, making enough money to pay the bills, and their loved ones are happy and safe, people can sometimes feel as though they really are in charge of their destinies. And then . . . something happens that is totally beyond their control—an illness, an accident, a natural disaster, financial reversal—and they realize that any such notion of being in command is at best a fleeting illusion.
What should believers do in a crisis? They should do what the disciples did: go to Jesus. He may not always “calm the storm” as he did for them, but he is in control. Christ is Lord over everything—including nature, life, finances, and all circumstances. Are there areas of your life you are trying to handle without him? Learn a lesson from a bunch of frightened fishermen: submit everything to him. He can handle it better than you can.
Jesus Sends the Demons into a Herd of Pigs / 8:26-39
The elements of nature and the evil beings of the spiritual world do not ignore Jesus’ command, but people do. The Pharisees rejected God’s plan (7:30), and the Gerasenes were more concerned about the economic loss of a herd of pigs. But all was not lost, for the man who had been liberated from the clutches of demons listened—intently. His soul was the “good soil” about which Jesus had spoken. Knowing this, Jesus commanded this man to stay in this Gentile region, testifying to God’s goodness and producing an abundant harvest of faith.
8:26 After Jesus had calmed the storm, the boat arrived at its intended destination, for Jesus wanted to go to the land of the Gerasenes. This region was across the lake from Galilee, a Gentile region probably southeast of the Sea of Galilee, home of the Decapolis, or the Ten Cities. These were Greek cities that belonged to no country and were self-governing. This was Gentile territory (there would not have been a herd of pigs in Jewish territory, for Jews considered pigs to be unclean, see 8:32 and Leviticus 11:7) and that Jesus had planned to go there. Luke would want to show his readers Jesus’ desire to go into Gentile territory with his message.
8:27 As soon as Jesus was climbing out of the boat, he met with demonic opposition. A man came out to meet him, but not as a welcoming party, for he was possessed by demons who probably wanted to scare away Jesus and the disciples.
A demon-possessed person lived in isolation and agony. This man was homeless. (Mark’s Gospel describes him as uncontrollable, so he could not live anywhere, see Mark 5:3-5.) He was naked and lived in a cemetery. In those days it was common for cemeteries to have many tombs carved into the hillside, making cave-like mausoleums. There was enough room for a person to live in such tombs. Finally, the text says that he had been in this condition for a long time.
8:28-29 The demons saw Jesus and recognized him and his authority immediately. So the demons caused the man to fall down before Jesus, not in worship but in grudging submission to Jesus’ superiority. The man shrieked, and demanded, “Why are you bothering me?” Such a question shows the demons’ ultimate rebellion. Jesus and the demons were as far separated as anything could be. Jesus’ purpose was to heal and give life; the demons’ purpose was to kill and destroy. The demon used Jesus’ divine name, Jesus, Son of the Most High God and begged Jesus saying, “Don’t torture me!” Demons recognize Jesus, understand who he is, know his power, and also seem to know their ultimate fate. Jesus has the power to “torture” them (see also 8:31). Their “torture” will be no more than the consequences for the rebellion (see Revelation 20:10).
Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. The power of the demon is revealed in that when the man was shackled with chains, he simply broke them. Although Satan is not as powerful as God, for he is a created being, he still exerts great power over this world. Satan’s demons (there were more than one in this man) could cause this man to break iron shackles that were intended to hold him. Then the demons would drive him into the wilderness. Finally, the story also shows Satan’s cruelty. For all that Satan might promise (see what he wanted to give Jesus, 4:6), he is a cruel and ruthless master. Those under his control face complete ruin under a master bent on destroying even those who serve him.
8:30 Whether Jesus was asking this poor man for his name or asking the demon for its name is uncertain. But the demon answered, saying that its name was Legion. A “legion” was the largest unit in the Roman army, having between three thousand and six thousand soldiers. Thus this man was filled with many demons.
8:31 The demons undoubtedly knew that Jesus planned to free their prisoner. Their concern at this point was where Jesus would send them. They knew where they did not want to go. They also knew that they had no power over Jesus and would have to submit to him. When the demons realized that they were face-to-face with Jesus himself, they begged Jesus not to send them into the Bottomless Pit. Also mentioned in Revelation 9:1 and 20:1-3, the Bottomless Pit is the place of confinement for Satan and his demons.
Why didn’t Jesus just destroy these demons—or send them far away? Matthew 8:29 says that the demons asked not to be sent to the Bottomless Pit before the appointed time. They knew their ultimate fate, but the time for such work had not yet come. The same question could be asked today—why doesn’t Jesus stop all the evil in the world? His time for that has not yet come. But it will come. The book of Revelation portrays the future victory of Jesus over Satan, his demons, and all evil.
8:32-33 The Gospel of Mark reports that this large herd of pigs numbered about two thousand (Mark 5:13). The demons pled with Jesus to let them enter into the pigs, so Jesus gave them permission. Satan has no final authority but can do only what God “permits” for the short time that he is allowed to be “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Why Jesus gave them permission is as uncertain as why the demons wanted to enter the pigs. While Jesus could have sent them away, he did not do so because the time for final judgment had not yet come. Yet it is clear from this story that Jesus valued this one man far more than any number of pigs. The demons’ ultimate destructive intent cannot be missed in the picture of the whole herd (about two thousand pigs!) running headlong down the steep hillside into the lake, where they drowned.
- LIFE APPLICATION – AUTHORITY
- One insight should be very clear: Jesus has authority over unclean spirits, pigs, people, and everything else. He didn’t ask permission of the pigs’ owner before allowing his herd to be destroyed because he didn’t need to. Jesus is Lord over all, whether people acknowledge his authority or not. You may never be confronted by a person possessed by a legion of demons, but you do have to face the daily struggle of submitting your will to God. What “unclean” areas in your life do you need to let him clean up or clean out? Take some time in prayer to let him point them out to you, and then ask his help to change.
8:34 The herdsmen on the hill, responsible for the safety of the pigs, were astounded when their herd suddenly ran away, down the hill, and into the Sea of Galilee. Terrified, surprised, and afraid that they would somehow be blamed for the disaster, they fled to the nearby city and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. Certainly those who heard the news had to go and see for themselves, so a crowd soon surrounded Jesus, the disciples, and the newly freed man.
8:35 One would think that the people would have rejoiced that this man who had terrorized them for so long had been completely cured. But their response was quite different. They did not respond in joy or relief or welcome—instead, the whole crowd was afraid.
8:36-37 There could be no mistaking it, the demon-possessed man had been healed. But the people, overcome with fear told Jesus that they wanted him to leave. If they were afraid because of the loss of their livestock, it was foolish for them to value possessions, investments, and even animals above human life. Unfortunately for them, Jesus did as they asked—returned to the boat and left. And there is no biblical record that he ever returned. Sometimes the worst that can happen is for Jesus to answer a poorly considered request.
- LIFE APPLICATION – A MATTER OF PRIORITIES
- Unbelievable! Jesus healed a man possessed by demons, and the local people asked Jesus to go away. Why? Whatever the reason, the people were obviously afraid of Jesus and his ability to upset the status quo. How typical. Have you ever heard someone in your church say (or said yourself),
- “I’m glad the church has a heart for evangelism, but all these new people make me uncomfortable.”
- “Why do we need to sing these new songs? The old hymns are good enough for me.”
- “My last church or pastor didn’t do that. . . .”
- If so, you or your church may be unknowingly following in the footsteps of the people of the Gerasenes. Beware of letting your personal preferences or your attachment to the status quo take priority over Jesus and his work in people’s lives.
8:38-39 While the townspeople wanted Jesus gone, the formerly possessed man begged to go with Jesus, meaning that he wanted to become one of Jesus’ followers. Jesus had other plans for him, saying, “No, go back to your family and tell them all the wonderful things God has done for you.” This man would be returning to his home in a Gentile region. Jesus knew that this man would be an effective witness to those who remembered his previous condition and could attest to the miraculous healing. Through him, Jesus’ ministry would expand into this Gentile area. Jesus would not remain in the region, but he did not leave himself without a witness, for this man went all through the city telling about the great thing Jesus had done for him. The Gentiles may have sent Jesus away, but they could not send away his message or the irrefutable miracle evidenced by this healed man. Luke’s Gentile audience would have been glad to know that although Jesus had been sent away from this Gentile region, Jesus still had compassion and a desire for their salvation by leaving behind this man to be his witness.
- LIFE APPLICATION – “GO BACK”
- Often Jesus asked those he healed to be quiet about the healing, but he urged this man to return to his family and tell what God had done for him. Why the difference?
- Jesus knew the man would be an effective witness to those who knew his previous condition and could attest to the miraculous healing.
- Jesus wanted to expand his ministry by introducing his message into this Gentile area.
- Jesus knew that the Gentiles, since they were not expecting a Messiah, would not divert his ministry by trying to crown him king.
- When God touches your life, share the wonderful events with your family and friends.
Jesus Heals a Bleeding Woman and Restores a Girl to Life / 8:40-56
In this passage, Jesus took the timid faith of a woman and transformed her into a powerful, public testimony of him. Then he gently encouraged the grief-stricken Jairus to believe in him.
8:40-42 Jesus returned across the Sea of Galilee, back to Jewish territory, probably landing at Capernaum. In contrast to the crowd on the eastern shore that had asked him to leave, here the crowds received Jesus with open arms. A man in the crowd had apparently been waiting for Jesus to return. Jairus was a leader of the local synagogue. The synagogue was the local center of worship, and Jairus was a lay person elected as one of the leaders. The leaders were responsible for supervising worship services, caring for the scrolls, running the daily school, keeping the congregation faithful to the law, distributing alms, administering the care of the building, and finding rabbis to teach on the Sabbath.
- LIFE APPLICATION- DESPERATE FAITH
- Would a respected leader of some mainline denomination—Southern Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian—go to a tent pitched on the outskirts of town and ask for help from a traveling faith healer? Not likely. But if that respected person’s son or daughter were dying and conventional medicine had been ineffective, then he or she might consider something unconventional. That’s the situation in which Jairus, leader of the local synagogue, found himself when Jesus came to town. Jesus was an itinerant preacher from lowly Nazareth, a nobody from nowhere. But Jairus was a desperate man, and his desperation drove him to ask for help from this unlikely person. What is the great need or fear in your life? Are you desperate enough to do something radical or unconventional about it? Then take it to Jesus, just as Jairus did, and let him meet you at the point of your need.
Despite his status, Jairus came and fell down at Jesus’ feet, begging him to come home with him. This would have been an unusual scene, but Jairus was desperate because his only child was dying, a little girl twelve years old. Jairus’s position as a loving father overshadowed his position as a leader. He put aside any concern for himself and went directly to the man who had healed so many (perhaps even in his own synagogue, 6:6-11). Jesus went with Jairus; as usual, the crowds went along.
8:43-44 One woman also had been awaiting Jesus’ return. Perhaps she had hoped to reach out to him when he came back and thus be healed. But Jairus got to Jesus first, and now they were walking away from her. Perhaps she thought this would be her only chance—she might not be able to talk to Jesus, but she knew she wanted to be healed.
Luke, the physician, wrote that the woman had had a hemorrhage for twelve years. Many doctors had tried to cure her, but with no success (Mark 5:26). The bleeding caused the woman to be in a constant condition of ceremonial uncleanness (see Leviticus 15:25-33). She could not worship in the synagogue, and she could not have normal social relationships, for under Jewish law, anyone who touched her also would become unclean. Thus, the woman had been treated almost as severely as a leper. That she was in the crowd at all was a courageous move on her part. If all those people bumping against her in the crowd had known her condition, she would have been in for some rough treatment.
Nevertheless, she also desperately needed Jesus. So she pressed her way through the crowd, came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of his robe for she believed, as did many people, that the clothes of a holy man imparted spiritual and healing power (see Mark 6:56; Acts 19:11-12). She may also have feared that Jesus would not touch her if he knew her condition because she would make him unclean. And she certainly did not want the pressing crowd to know that she had ventured among them. So she hoped to touch Jesus and then get away as unobtrusively as possible. The moment that she touched Jesus, the bleeding stopped. Immediately her pain was gone and she knew that she was healed.
- LIFE APPLICATION – RELEASE THE POWER
- Many people were surrounding Jesus as he made his way toward Jairus’s house. It was virtually impossible to get through the multitude, but one woman fought her way desperately through the crowd in order to touch Jesus. As soon as she did so, she was healed. What a difference there is between the crowds that are curious about Jesus and the few who reach out and touch him! Today, many people are vaguely familiar with Jesus, but nothing in their lives is changed or bettered by this passing acquaintance. It is only faith that releases God’s healing power. Jesus must be more than a curiosity. Reach out to him in faith, knowing that his mercy will bring healing to your body, soul, and spirit.
8:45 The woman had hoped to disappear into the crowd. But Jesus knew about the healing the moment it happened. He asked the seemingly absurd question, “Who touched me?” While the whole crowd had been pressing up against him, no one close by had deliberately touched him. It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t know who had touched him. He wanted the woman to step forward and identify herself. Jesus wanted to teach her that his cloak did not contain magical properties, but that her faith in him had healed her.
8:46 Jesus persisted. He stopped the entire crowd, determined to find out who touched him. Jesus was talking about a different kind of touch—not the press of a person in the crowd but the deliberate touch of someone who wanted to be healed. Jesus knew it because power had gone out from him.
8:47 The woman realized that to try to slip away at that point would have been impossible. The woman came forward, trembling, and fell down before Jesus. She explained to the crowd why she had touched him. This was not a simple act—for she would have to explain how she—unclean and filled with a dreadful disease—had come in among the crowd, had reached out and touched a man (a rabbi) in her unclean state, and had hoped to slip away. All these were huge infractions of social laws and would have probably been grounds for anger from any other rabbi and any other crowd. But this was no ordinary rabbi, for she also explained that when she had touched Jesus, she had been immediately healed.
- LIFE APPLICATION – DON’T WAIT
- Just as it was most unusual for a synagogue official to seek out a wandering rabbi, it was most inappropriate according to Jewish custom for a woman subject to bleeding to touch a man (see Leviticus 15:19-28). But if you had been seriously ill for twelve years with a disease that doctors could not cure, you might set aside such protocol as well. That’s what this woman did. She put aside her pride, fear, and hopelessness and pushed her way through the crowd until she could touch Jesus. Would you have done that? Or would you have let doubt or vanity or worry over what others might think keep you back? Don’t wait until you’re desperate to take your problems to Jesus. Overcome your fear of what others might say and take your stand for him.
8:48 The woman may have been afraid of an angry backlash for her actions, but Jesus spoke to her in gentle words. She came for healing and received it, but she also received a relationship and peace with God himself because of her faith. Jesus explained that it was not his clothing that had healed her; rather, her faith in reaching out to the one Person who could heal her had allowed that healing to take place. Not only did the woman have faith, but she had also placed her faith in the right person.
The words “Go in peace” are more literally, “Go into peace.” With this healing, Jesus gave this woman her life. Her cure was permanent. Jesus wished her peace of both body and soul—renewed health for her body and eternal salvation for her soul.
8:49 During this interval, Jairus had been waiting. Jesus was still speaking to this woman who had interrupted his walk to Jairus’s house when a messenger arrived. What Jairus feared most had happened. His dear little girl had died. It was too late for the Teacher to heal her, so there was no longer any reason to bring Jesus to his home. Apparently Jairus hadn’t heard that Jesus could raise the dead (7:11-15)—or perhaps he thought it would be too much to ask.
8:50 Upon hearing the news, Jairus surely reacted in great sorrow. It seemed that the delay had been too long, and it was now too late. But Jesus turned to the grieving man and said, “Don’t be afraid. Just trust me.” In the presence of Jairus, the woman had been commended for her faith. Here in the presence of the woman, Jairus was told to have faith. He had believed that Jesus could heal his daughter; Jesus wanted him to continue to believe that his daughter would be all right. The fact that the daughter had died did not change anything for Jesus.
- LIFE APPLICATION – BELIEVING THE IMPOSSIBLE
- Anyone with a child or children can readily put himself or herself emotionally in Jairus’s place. His daughter, his only beloved daughter, had died while they were on the way home. Luke did not write this, but the poor man probably wept and cried out in his grief—the deepest, most painful grief anyone can experience. To a man in this kind of intense pain and anguish in his soul, Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Again, Luke didn’t record Jairus’s reaction to these words, but Jairus must have had at least some flicker of hope because he did complete his mission in bringing Jesus to his house. When you experience intense grief over the loss of a loved one, breakup of a marriage, loss of a job, or rejection of a close friend, don’t abandon hope. Don’t turn away from the one Person who can help you. Do what Jairus did, and cling to the hope found only in our resurrected Lord, the one with power over life and death.
8:51 Apparently Jairus did continue to believe, for he led Jesus the rest of the way to his house. The crowd still followed, perhaps all the more curious wondering what Jesus would do in this seemingly impossible situation. When they arrived at the house, however, Jesus took control and made everyone stay outside. The only people who entered with him were Peter, James, John, and the child’s parents. These three particular disciples had become Jesus’ inner circle to whom he gave special teaching and consideration (they were the only ones to see his transfiguration, see Matthew 17:1; also Mark 13:3; 14:33).
8:52-53 The house full of people probably included relatives and neighbors, as well as professional mourners who may have already arrived. Lack of weeping and wailing was the ultimate disgrace and disrespect. Jairus, the leader of the synagogue, was an important person in the town. Thus, at the death of his only daughter, the townspeople demonstrated their great love and respect by their intense grief. Yet their weeping turned to derisive laughter at Jesus’ words that the girl was not dead, only asleep. She was indeed dead, but Jesus would bring her back to life, as if awakening her from sleep. Jesus used the image of sleep to indicate that the girl’s condition was temporary and that she would be restored. For Jesus, death is nothing more than sleep, for he has power and authority over death.
8:54-55 Again Jesus went against all ceremonial law and took the dead girl by the hand. Touching a dead body would make a person unclean, but Jesus often would go past such laws in order to show compassion on those in need. He could have raised the girl without touching her (as he did Lazarus, John 11:43-44), but in this case, he chose to take her hand. Jesus’ words were simple and direct, “Get up, my child!” While Mark recorded the words in Aramaic (Mark 5:41), as Jesus most likely said them, Luke translated for his Gentile audience. With those words, her life returned. She came back well, whole, and able to walk around. She was even well enough to eat, for Jesus gave her parents instructions to give her something to eat.
- LIFE APPLICATION – HOPE THROUGH PAIN
- What is the pain of death? Death is inevitable, so why do people react so powerfully at the loss of a loved one? Death means separation. It means no longer being able to enjoy the presence of the one who has been lost. But Jesus has the power to remove the sting of death. Jesus, who met death head-on and overcame it, assures those who believe in him that they also can overcome. They won’t receive back loved ones who have died, but they can conquer the pain and fear of separation by the sure and certain hope that they will be reunited with the loved ones. Death is inevitable; loss of hope is not. Let hope in Christ answer the pain and heartache when death separates you from a loved one.
8:56 The young girl’s parents were overwhelmed and certainly overjoyed. Jesus told the parents not to tell anyone about their daughter’s healing because he knew that the facts would speak for themselves. Jesus was not attempting to keep this a secret, for the crowd outside was waiting and would see what had happened. Jesus was concerned for his ministry. He probably was asking them to keep to themselves the details of what he had done. He did not want to be known as just a miracle-worker; he wanted people to listen to his words that would heal their broken spiritual lives. Jesus’ mission was to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God. If crowds descended on him to see dead people raised, they would not be coming with the attitude needed to hear and respond to the gospel.
Until tommorow, Darrell
Sources: Life Application Bible Commentary, Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary Note: today I read other commentaries but didn’t find them as clear and helpful as the two listed today. Also this is the longest post so far, fewer verses than chapter one but more commentary, so for the sake of length, I think we’re good.
For more information about The Ridge Fellowship or Darrell Koop go to www.ridgefellowship.com