Sermon passage: Luke 8v22-56


Day  1

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’ So, they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 ‘Where is your faith?’ he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement, they asked one another, ‘Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.’

 

Put yourselves into the shoes of the disciples. They’d seen Jesus heal with a word, command evil spirits, teach with real authority, and raise the dead. They’d been observers. In this incident they are right in the action. They are now personally invested. The storm hits and the boat is in danger of going down. Matthew tells us in his gospel it was a “furious storm”. 

It would have assaulted all their senses – waves crashing into the boat, wind howling, ropes lashing around, clothing soaked, the boat being tossed around, thunder crashing – and Jesus sleeps through it all. He must have been totally exhausted. In the end the disciples rouse him because “they were in great danger.”  

Jesus rebukes the storm. Rebuke is an interesting word to use. It implies mastery and authority. Jesus is in command of one of the world’s most powerful natural events. The storm stills, and the disciples are in “fear and amazement”. Mark gives us a bit more detail in 4:41 – he tells us the disciples were terrified. That is a strong word. The disciples were afraid in the storm, but they are terrified at Jesus. Have you ever been terrified? Remember how it felt? You shake. You go weak at the knees. You lose control. What was it about Jesus’ control of the storm that invoked that sort of response? He was their friend, their mentor and guide. He wouldn’t hurt them. They had seen his love and compassion, but they now know he was dangerous. Read the descriptions of Jesus in the book of Revelation, for instance.


Jesus is our friend and saviour but we should not take him lightly. I’m reminded of the words of Mr Beaver in C.S. Lewis’s book, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” about Aslan, the God figure in the book,  “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.” [C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe]


We have a powerful friend. He is not gentle Jesus meek and mild. He is Lord. He battled the forces of evil and won. He will judge the world and he will carry out that judgment [Rev 19:11-16], where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth [Luke 13:28]. Love and awe are not mutually exclusive. Perfect love casts out fear [1 John 4:18] but that doesn’t mean we should treat God like an equal or take him for granted. He is our God.  And he is for us. 

What a wonder! What a glorious privilege! Through Jesus we can call God  “Abba”. 

The Christian gospel is a wonderous thing. This dangerous, loving, powerful messiah is our saviour and friend. 

So, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees [Heb 12:12]. 

Those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. [Isaiah 40:31]

 

PRAYER

God of all power and might, thank you for saving me. Thank you for being for me. Strengthen me to walk with you. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 Day  2

 

26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes,[a] which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!’ 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

30 Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’

‘Legion,’ he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

 

This man was in a living hell. We see in him the final outcome of a life without Jesus; the final destiny of all mankind if they refuse Christ’s offer of salvation. It’s as if in this case we have the veneer of civility pulled away and we see the depravity of the soul. Although people may not be possessed, the Bible says that without Christ we are all under the power of the evil one, [1 John 5:19; John 8:44; 2 Cor 4:4] and are children of the evil one [1 John 3:10; Eph 2:2]. 

So, when Jesus frees him we really have a picture of what Jesus does for all those who call upon him. This incident is the gospel in a nutshell. The man keeps breaking the physical chains but he can’t break the spiritual chains that bind his soul. Only Jesus can do that. He rescues us from hell as well.

Jesus asks the demon his name. Some will say that Jesus performs an exorcism and that naming the spirit gives him control over the demon. Really? The Son of God who created the universe [Col 1:16] can only cast out a demon if he uses its name? That was a pagan magical procedure. [Walter E Liefeld The Gospel of Luke pg. 913] Jesus was no magician. God, through Jesus needed, only to speak and the world came into being. On other occasions there are no “exorcism processes” when Jesus casts out demons. Here, the demons were already obeying Jesus, begging him not to torture them or to now send them to the abyss, but to allow them to enter the pigs. What’s more, the demons here are terrified of Jesus [v 28]. No, it seems that Jesus  Jesus is asking the man for his name but that the demons are so in control he cannot answer. 

So, what’s the deal with the pigs? Well, Jesus didn’t send them into the pigs, he allowed them to do what they wanted. It’s appropriate in some ways that unclean spirits should end up in unclean animals. Why the spirits wanted to inhabit the pigs we don’t know, but their destructive nature is clearly seen in the death of the pigs. God allows evil but is never the cause of it, although we often struggle with the presence of evil and suffering. This is one more case and we don’t have a clear explanation why Jesus allowed the destruction of the property of others. The cause of the loss is the evil spirits. 

Luke’s focus is on the man. “When they (the townspeople) came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind”. The man begs to go with Jesus. 

Who, when they are in their right mind, wouldn’t want to follow Jesus! This man, for the first time is able to make a good, wise decision and free from the influence of evil he makes the only sensible one. It is no different for us today, possessed or not. Without the new life that the Holy Spirit brings we will not follow Jesus – we are slaves to sin and will not do right [Rom 8:7]. Praise God he picked us out of the mud and gave us eyes to see the truth. 

This man learns that following Jesus can mean staying where he is and telling the good news to all who will hear. 

 

PRAYER

God of all truth, I cannot thank you enough for bringing me into your family. All praise and honour to you. Amen

 

 

 

 Day  3

34 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. 37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So, he got into the boat and left.

38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 ‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over the town how much Jesus had done for him.

 

Not quite the reaction you’d expect from the people of the town! When they saw that the man had been cured “They were afraid.” [v35]; “They were overcome with fear.” [v37] We can understand in the incident with the calming of the storm earlier in the chapter the disciples’ terror at Jesus display of power. It’s a bit like that movie “Life of PI” where a teenager is cast adrift in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger: the disciples are adrift in a small boat with a very dangerous man. Here, however, surely there should have been celebration. A mans is set free. It reminds us that people’s reactions to Jesus will always vary. The cured man wanted to stary around Jesus; he had experienced Jesus immense power as good. The townspeople don’t want to be around Jesus. They ask him to leave the region and Jesus complies. Instead of seeing his power as good and constructive they see it as threatening in some way. Rather than celebrating the man’s release from a living hell they are anxious about how Jesus will affect them. They rightly assume that if Jesus stays life for them will never the same again. 

You cannot live side by side with the Son of God and expect life to stay the same. 

Some years ago, some friends were having a conversation about Christianity with some unbelievers and they said “What have you got lose? Life is no different as a Christian and if it’s true then when you die you get to go to heaven.” They either hadn’t thought clearly about what being Christians had done to them or they weren’t actually converted themselves. Jesus turns your life upside down! Nothing can ever be the same. When you become a follower of Jesus you have a new master. Jesus himself put it like this: 4 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” [Matthew 16:24-26] That doesn’t sound like life going back to normal!

Furthermore, as a disciple you really can’t read the word of God without him rattling your cage and making demands about change. For instance, the word calls us to extraordinary love that must constantly take us out of our comfort zones. It calls us to give up our own selfish ambitions and assume Jesus’ priorities for us [Phil 2:3]. If we really put just those two commitments into practice we will be completely different to what we would be were we not disciples of Christ. 

Is your life radically different from those around you? Should it be? Do you have different ambitions and goals in life? The Spirit prompts us to a life of discipleship. Do you hear him? 

 

PRAYER

Father teach to enjoy the disruption you bring to my own selfish ambitions and lifestyle. Help me to embrace the values of the Kingdom more and more. Amen

 

 

 

 

 Day  4

 

40 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying……..

49……. While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ he said. ‘Don’t bother the teacher anymore.’

50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.’

51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. ‘Stop wailing,’ Jesus said. ‘She is not dead but asleep.’

53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’ 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

 

Jairus really throws all his dignity to the wind. He is a prominent local citizen and religious leader and it is well known that Jesus is not liked in many religious circles, especially among the leaders. His extreme need calls for him to take extreme measures; the child is close to death. He falls at Jesus’ feet in front of the crowd surrounding Jesus and he pleads for his daughter’s life, overcoming any fear of repercussions to his reputation. He comes to Jesus as we must all come, as a supplicant with no reservations and in total submission.

As Jesus is on his way word comes that the child has died but Jesus tells Jairus not to fear but to believe. On arrival he tells the people assembled, the family and friends of the family, that the girl is only asleep. Some have taken this to mean that the child was in a coma-type state, but in that case the signs of life would still have been evident and those crowded around would have seen them. They would not have laughed at Jesus’ comment. Further, Luke’s words “her spirit returned” indicate that she was indeed dead. Jesus’ description of her state as being asleep is the description of the state for all who die while they await the resurrection [John 11:11-13; 1 Cor 15:51]. Her resurrection was just a lot sooner than the rest of us. 

Jesus brings life from death. The end of life is no longer the end. 

The story is well known, as are the incidents of the resurrection of the widow’s son at Nain [Luke 7] and Lazarus [John 11]. We read them and acknowledge that Jesus has power over death, and then move on, but if it were to happen today can you imagine the fuss? The evens themselves are incredible but the implications are earth- shattering! This man is walking around controlling the strongest powers of the natural world – storms, sickness, the animal world [Luke 5], power flows from him [Luke 8:46]. He is a phenomenon, and he is for us. When Paul says that we can cast all our anxieties on him because he cares about us [Phil 4:6-7], he’s saying two things: Jesus is powerful to care for us and Jesus is compassionate towards us. He can do anything, nothing is beyond his power, so we can relax even in life’s dire circumstances, knowing that even if he doesn’t give us what we want he will do what is best for us, because nothing can thwart his plans for us. Do you believe that? Then why does anxiety grip so many of us? Is it because we doubt Christ’s power or do we doubt his goodness? Do we doubt his ability to empower us to endure whatever is happening? 

 

PRAYER

Lord God, give me a firm trust in your goodness and a readiness to trust you completely. Amen 

 

 

 

 

 Day  5

 

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years,[b] but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

45 ‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.’

46 But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.’

47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.’

 

Jesus is on his way to Jairus’ house when the woman touched him. 

There seems to be a wonderful humility in her actions. She doesn’t want to bother Jesus. She doesn’t want to make a fuss. She doesn’t want to draw attention to her condition, which would have been a constant source of shame and embarrassment. Furthermore, her touching Jesus was a breach of the purity laws, and so her secrecy may have been the result of not wanting to draw attention to that breach. 

She wants to go unnoticed [v 47], but Jesus won’t let her off the hook. He forces her into the open. Why does he do that? She has taken something from him without his consent. I’m guessing that wasn’t her way of thinking about it, and it might not be why Jesus draws her out, but it seems he won’t let her take something by stealth. She falls at his feet trembling and confesses. Notice how Luke tells us that she does this “in the presence of all the people.” [v 47] What she has tried to do in secret has been brought into the open. Now her faith in Jesus’ ability to heal is there for all to see, and Jesus says it is that faith that has been the instrument of her healing [v 48]. Jesus does not always require faith before he heals [Mat 12:9-13; Luke 7:11-16], after all he is the Son of God, and yet faith seems to play an important part [Mark 6:5-6] and does illicit Jesus’ action to heal. 

It may be that if she had been cured without a public confession she’d have had trouble removing the stigma and shame even though now healed. In making her declare publicly Jesus is making life easier for her. [Norval Geldenhuys The Gospel of Luke pg. 261] 

Another reason may be that Jesus wants her to realise that she has not been “magically” cured but rather cured by faith in Him.  

“Daughter your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” [v 48]. It would be hard to find more comforting words. “Go in peace” – “don’t be anxious, we’re good.” 

When we come to Jesus we too are able to walk in peace. It is not only about peace with God, but a whole of life peace – the Shalom of God. When we are at peace with him all other things that might otherwise cause us anxiety and fear fall into perspective. “If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” [Romans 8:31-32]

The difficulty for many of God’s people is not that we don’t believe this truth, but that we keep losing sight of it. We focus on the difficulties rather than on the God who is above all. Romans 8:31-32 would be a great part of the Bible to commit to memory and ruminate on especially when we tend to get anxious or fearful. When we fell those trigger points that lead to anxiety and fear, that is the time to call to mind the truths that we believe. 

 

PRAYER

Father help me to live out the truths I believe. Amen

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