Archive for March, 2009

Luke 8:26-39 The Healing of the Demoniac

March 12, 2009

Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, [1] which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus [2] had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.”29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him.31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed [3] man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying,39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

  • They crossed to the opposite side of the Sea of Galilee into an area that was mostly gentile territory (hence the pigs).
  • Jesus is confronted by this violent man.  Like the storm from the previous section, Jesus remains calm to deal with this human storm.
  • The scene with the pigs is thought to be an image of what the Jews wanted to do  to the Romans; drive them into the sea to drown.
  • This man was not just healed but he was given salvation.  The salvation which God had promised long ago was now beginning to spread further abroad.
  • The man wishes to stay with Jesus.  Of course, who wouldn’t want to stay with Jesus. It’s like having a big brother with you at elementary school.  None of the bully’s will mess with you.  Jesus had healed him, had loved him, why would he want to leave Jesus?  However, Jesus does not say “follow me” to this man but says “go home and tell”.
  • Imagine what it would be like for this man to go home.  This man had been cast out of society.  He had been living in the tombs, chained up, and under guard.  He must have done some pretty horrible things in his past.  Would his family and village accept him now?  Would they believe that he had changed?  It was not an easy thing for this man to return to his family.  No wonder why he wanted to stay with Jesus.  But now he must go back and tell them what God had done for him.  
  • “Go home and tell them what God has done for you.”  What will this man tell people.  He will tell them what Jesus did for him.  Luke is emphasizing here in this one verse that what Jesus does, God does.   When we tell people what Jesus has done for us, we are telling them what God has done for us.  We are beginning to see the answer to the question of who Jesus really is.
  • Do I want to stay where it is safe?  This man begged Jesus to stay with him but Jesus sent him back home.  It was not going to be easy for this man to go home.  He would most likely have to take responsibility for his past and reconcile with his family.  It would have been easier just to stay with Jesus.  But Jesus told him to go and tell.  Jesus is telling me to go and tell.  He doesn’t want me to play it safe by not opening my mouth.  By thinking everyone is OK.  Who am I telling about what God has done for me?  

Luke 8:16-25 Jesus Calms the Storm

March 8, 2009

A Lamp Under a Jar

16 “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

19 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” 21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Jesus Calms a Storm

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

  • Imagine the shock waves that Jesus sent through his followers when he responded the way he did to his family’s request.  Family in our day is important but in Jesus’ day family was extremely important.  Jesus says, “Here are my mothers and brothers—anyone who hears God’s word and does it!!!”  What a slap in the face to his family.
  • In this passage we hear echoes of the previous parable of the sower.  Jesus was surrounded by those who are the good soil.  Jesus is stressing to those who would be his followers the importance of God’s Kingdom.  It is more important then even our families.  Hearing and doing God’s word must come first in our lives.  Jesus was not neglecting his family.  Jesus loved his family.  However, he would not allow his family to distract him from his vocation.
  • God was doing something new and it was not to be hidden from view.  That is what Jesus is warning us in the opening verses.  The time is coming when all things will be brought to light.  Who was really listening?  Who was really following?  What am I hiding?  Am I trying to hide my sin?  Am I trying to hide my faith?  This is a convicting passage.  I must be transparent to the world.  Even if I try to hide, in the end it will be futile.  All will be revealed.  Am I a lamp on a hill?
  • The lesson is then brought home to the disciples out on the lake that we must throw ourselves on the mercy of Jesus.  The choice of faith is absolute.  Either I trust him or I am at the mercy of the storm.
  • Who then is this?  That is the question we are left with at the end of this passage.  It is also one that will soon be answered by Luke.  But if I am to truly know who Jesus is, it will require from me a total commitment of putting Jesus and God’s Kingdom first.  This involves a total trust and total obedience.

Luke 8:1-15 The Parable of the Sower

March 6, 2009

Women Accompanying Jesus

8:1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them [1] out of their means.

The Parable of the Sower

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The Purpose of the Parables

And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

  • Jesus was not commenting on farming problems but was explaining the strange way in which the Kingdom of God was arriving.  Which was, of course, not the way people had expected.
  • Through seven chapters of Luke we are able to see the sort of people Jesus is talking about in this parable.  
  • The seed on the road = the villagers in the synagogue at Nazareth.
  • The seed on the stony ground = Simon the Pharisee.
  • The seed among the thorns = The ‘people of this generation’ in Luke 7:31.
  • The seed among good soil = The centurion, the unnamed woman, Levi the tax collector, the Twelve disciples, and the group of women in Luke 8:1-3.
  • Here is a nice quote from N. T Wright, “Look out the window at the people walking by.  What sort of soil is the seed being sown in today?  What can we do to plough up the rough ground, to remove the stones, to weed out the thorns?  What can we do to sow the word more successfully?  The answers will vary from place to place and time to time.  But perhaps the first and most important answer is to ask ourselves how much mature growth, how much fruit, the word is producing in our own lives.  If we have ears, we must learn to hear.”

Luke 7:36-50 Jesus Annointed by a Sinfull Woman

March 2, 2009

A Sinful Woman Forgiven

36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among [1] themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

**I had some trouble with this passage, so I am sorry if my notes are jumbled and don’t make sense.

  • N. T.  Wright likens this passage in Luke to a “great painting”, a work of art.  The story is full of gospel meaning, brought to us in three dimensional vivid reality.
  • Three characters dominate the story: Simon the Pharisee, Jesus, and the unnamed woman.
  • Simon the Pharisee is the host of this dinner party.  He is, as his name suggests, a pharisee who must have not been completely opposed to Jesus as some of his peers were.  Perhaps he wondered whether Jesus really was a prophet and so invited him for dinner to see for himself.  And from the way Jesus responded to the uninvited woman, Simon believed he had found his answer.  Jesus could not have been a prophet.  A prophet would have known that this was a sinful woman.  However, Jesus quickly proves Simon wrong by revealing that he did indeed know what this woman was (a sinful woman who was grateful for forgiveness) and that he also knew what Simon was thinking.
  • The woman was an uninvited guest.  A common occurrence in Jesus’ world.  Door were often left open for any passers-by to wander in.  She intends to anoint Jesus but she is overcome with emotion and begins to cry at Jesus’ feet wetting them with her tears.  She lets down her hair, a no-no for women at this time, to wipe the tears off his feet.  Once his feet are dry, she then anoints them with ointment.
  • Luke now shows us how God’s love impacts on a human situation.  The kingdom that Jesus was establishing would be filled with exuberant generosity, surprising grace, and at the same time fierce opposition.
  • Jesus’ parable turns the table on Simon.  Simon felt that this woman was out of place, that her actions were shameful.  But in actuality the opposite was the case.  Many Jews had rejected Jesus but many non-Jews were accepting him and were extremely grateful to be forgiven of their many sins.  This woman was on of those who were grateful and thus she demonstrated her gratitude by anointing Jesus’ feet.  Simon, however was not grateful.  He was guilty of poor hospitality.  To quote N.T Wright, “The pharisee has never come to terms with the depths of his own heart, and so doesn’t appreciate God’s generous love when it sits in person at his own table.  For Luke, true faith is what happens when someone looks at Jesus and discovers God’s forgiveness; and the sign and proof of this faith is love.”
  • Who do I more closely resemble?  The pharisee or the woman?  What is my love like?  Do I love Jesus as this woman did?  Have I become ungrateful for the depth of God’s generous love?  Have I invited Jesus into my house only to neglect him?  It is so easy to think, “I’m not like the Pharisee!!!  I love Jesus.”  But how is that love being realized in my life.  This woman didn’t care what these men thought of her as long as Jesus was there.  She was willing to humiliate herself because she was so grateful.  Can I say the same?