Luke 8. Jesus Goes Over the Disciples' Heads.
Key Notes: Jesus accepted women on the tour. His family refused Him. He went through a lake storm to heal a pagan demoniac. A woman bleeding was healed without His conscious effort. A child was raised from the dead.
On Jesus' first tour (Lk.4:14), He began teaching to sick people by the score. Showers of blessing rained down on them. He called the twelve disciples, taught them the Laws of the Kingdom, and then proceeded to show them different ways faith would present itself. He had to break with three kinds of social norms in order to save and care for people.
In Luke 8, Jesus started His second tour with 8–9 events that staggered the disciples, and then He sent them out two by two to do the work for themselves. Luke 9
A thoughtful reading of Luke 8 leaves one with feelings of awe, fear, comfort and amazement, just a glimpse of what the disciples must have felt. Everywhere they turned, their Master confounded them. What is going on? How can this be? How can He do that? Why did He say that? Who is He, really?
Luke 8:1–3 Jesus accepted a group of women into the touring group. One had been healed of demon-possession (Mary Magdelene), and one was the wife of a courtier (Joanna). Jesus was completely comfortable with the arrangement, but what did this group of unsophisticated up-country men think about having women around? Were they not typical Jewish men who would never be seen in the company of a woman, even their own wives?
Luke.8:4–15 Jesus taught the parable of the sower and the seed. (In Matt. and Mark, it is clear that the people have already rejected his message. Luke does not explain.) Jesus said that He spoke in parables so that people would not understand. That seems harsh. The disciples certainly did not understand. Jesus explained the parable:
•some never remember what they hear; Satan snatches the Word.
•some are quickly disillusioned by temptation and wither away.
•some are distracted by worldly interests and never bear fruit.
•but in some, the seed ("an embryo") takes root in an honest and sincere heart and fruit is brought forth with patience.
So the people would not understand based on their lack of receptivity, rather than because of difficulty understanding the parable. The sincere heart stores the parable and it is understood in time. In fact, the parable is a vehicle for remembering profound ideas so that they can be told to other audiences. Even those who do not understand now, may incubate the “seed” and come to faith later.
Luke 8:16 Lest the disciples think that they therefore had no obligation to spread the Word, Jesus told them they were not to hide the light but put it on a pedestal. He said all the truth would come to light, and the more light one received, the more would be granted.
Luke 8:19–21 His mother and brothers came to visit him. Jesus said they were not hearing the Word of God and doing it, and He would not be distracted by them. Later, we know that Mary and Jesus' brother found faith and were with Him at the end (Acts:1–14), but now they were in doubt, and Mark 3:21 says they rejected Him. We thank God that rejections of Christ are not necessarily final.
Luke 8:22–25 Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee in a boat on an appointment with a maniac. (8:26–39). This is one of three appointments in which Jesus went out of Israel to win a person: the others were with the woman of Samaria (Jn.4:1-) and the Syro-phoenician woman. (Mk.7:24). The city of Gerasa was built by the Greeks but we are not sure of the name; it may be Gadara. The maniac likely was also not Jewish.
A storm swamped the boat and the disciples wakened their exhausted Master to save their lives. To their amazement, He stopped the wind and waves. Healing can be explained, but who can stop the wind? The wind is "nature" running wild. The water usually takes a day or two to calm. Then He turned and challenged their lack of faith. He knew that God had called them to a great work, not to drown in the Lake, and even threats to life must be understood as testing, not mortal danger. Jesus was headed for an appointment.
"The Christian is immortal until his work is done."
Luke 8:26–39 The Gerasene (some manuscripts say Gadarene) demoniac was so violent that chains could not hold him and his community had abandoned him to the tombs. But when Jesus approached, he came and fell down before him. The demons begged not to be put into the abyss ("...before the time" Matt.8:29) and Jesus permitted them to enter a herd of pigs. The demons generated as much physical force and mania in the pigs as in the human they had inhabited, and the pigs all ran headlong into the lake. The Gerasenes could not process the event that left one insane man healed and a valuable livelihood lost; they asked Jesus to leave. The man was ordained to be Jesus' evangelist. He would tell his story to his people again and again, show them his chains and win them to Christ.
Luke 8:40 Back on the other side of the Lake, people were waiting for him and He was escorted to the side of a dying child, Jairus' daughter. On the way, a women with 12 years of presumed menstrual bleeding secretly reached out for the hem of Jesus' coat and was healed--and Jesus knew it at once, in spite of the crush of the crowd around him. The fringe of the outer garment was tasseled to remind the wearer of the Law of God. (Num.15:38). Jesus demanded that she identify herself, and gave her His blessing.
Meanwhile, Jairus' daughter died, and Jesus was excused from going to her. But He said faith would make her well. Then He said she was not dead but asleep. Did He use the language of appearance, or was she in a coma? He was using the language of appearance as He did with Lazarus. (Jn.11:11–14). He was not referring to "soul sleep"--the concept that there is no consciousness until the Resurrection. I think she was dead.
In this short time (Lk.8), Jesus challenged the disciples' attitudes toward:
•women in the company of the disciples
•the disciples' audiences and their varying receptivities
•their future lives in the Kingdom
•His power over nature
•His power over demons, sickness and death.
It was a time of rapid change. Jesus was moving the disciples quite quickly, remaking their understanding of reality. We need His help to remake our realities and priorities as well because we also live in a period of rapid change.