The Women Disciples
Mary, Joanna, Susanna and many other women who were traveling with Jesus are only mentioned by Luke. These women were supporting Jesus’ ministry out of their own means. Perhaps the Jewish audience of the other Gospel writers made them gloss over this fact but Luke wanted to let his Gentile readers know that no one was excluded from the ministry of Christ.
Jewish culture forbade women to learn from rabbis but Jesus was creating a culture of inclusion. By having women not only learn from him but also be part of his traveling companions, Jesus showed that both men and women were equal under God.
The Parable of the Sower
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” – Luke 8:5-8
The simple illustration of the sower, sowing seeds that land on different terrain, eluded the crowds. Even the disciples of Jesus did not understand and asked Jesus to explain the parable.
The seeds planted along the path are the ones who hear the gospel but are easily swayed by the ways of this earth. Jesus comes to their minds only during the last month of the year.
The seeds planted on rocky grounds are the ones who are not deep rooted in faith but rather on blessing and miracles. And when times of troubles come and they are not able to realize the blessing in their lives, they get uprooted from their faith in Christ.
The seeds planted among the thorns are the ones that have great fervor for Christ but are growing among the wrong crowds. Their fellowships are based on commonalities like race, occupation, age and even denominations. They enjoy their respective fellowships and think this what Christian life is supposed to be. They never have room to grow and are satisfied in their spiritual lives as they feel they are in the same boat as everyone around them. They will never grow to their full potential.
The seeds planted on good soil are the ones who have the right foundation, have had time to develop roots so that they can persevere the tough times and room for perpetual growth. Jesus wants us to strive to have our hearts like the good fertile soil so that his word can be planted in us.
Jesus often spoke in parables to his audience and tells us the reason for doing so in this passage.
He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’ – Luke 8:10
Strange that Jesus did not want his audience to understand his parables. Maybe it was the readiness of the people or the intentions with which they came to Jesus or perhaps that the time had not come to reveal the secrets of the kingdom of Heaven. This also highlights our state where we need Jesus to even understand the scriptures written so plainly. If we invited a formal acquaintance coming to our house, we spend hours cleaning the house and cooking the perfect meal but when our close friends come to our home they also help us in the preparations. Similarly Jesus does not want to wait outside till we try to prepare our hearts for him. He wants to come in and help us in the preparations.
For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. – Luke 8:17
Jesus Calms the Storm
As Jesus and his disciples were traveling in a boat to Gerasenes a squall came down on the lake leaving even several lifelong fishermen fearing for their lives.
The disciples went and woke Jesus, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” – Luke 8:24
During times of trouble, how quickly we forget the works Jesus has done in our lives. The disciples witnessed several miracles while traveling with Jesus but lacked the faith when it came to their own lives being at stake. Jesus eventually got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” – Luke 8:25
Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man
They sailed across the lake of Galilee to the region of Gerasenes where Jesus met a demon-possessed man from the town. He was living in tombs as no one was able to bind him. Jesus commanded the impure spirits to come out of the man but the man begged for Jesus to have mercy on him.
Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. – Luke 8:30-31
The literal translation of Legion is an army of 6000 men. So imagine an army of 6000 impure spirits had taken hostage of this man’s body and were negotiating terms of his release with Jesus. They pleaded with Jesus to allow them the enter a herd of pigs that were grazing nearby. The demons would try anything to not have to go back into the Abyss. Jesus granted them their request and they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. But why did Jesus grant Legion’s request?
God works in ways that we are not capable of understanding. As we later find out in the same passage that Jesus had great plans for this man and wanted him to be a witness in the entire region of Decapolis, where Jesus was not accepted. It was up to this man to be a witness for Christ among his own people. The commotion and chaos caused by the suicidal pigs, combined with the healing of the man who had been possessed for several years, would give an opening to spread the news about Christ.
Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. – Luke 8:36-37
But why were the people afraid of Jesus after seeing the formerly possessed man in his right mind? Perhaps it was the loss of their livestock or more likely it was the fear of the unknown. Human race is always slow to welcome change and are skeptical of the things that they are not familiar with. This has given rise to several nationalist groups all over the globe. Similarly the nationalist groups of Decapolis did not want Jesus to change their thoughts and beliefs.
Jesus wanted the formerly possessed man to stay in the region and be a witness for Christ. The call to ministry is not a one size fits all but a personal call for each one of us for different purposes. The place where we reside, work or study in currently is our Decapolis. We have been placed by Jesus to be the light to our own people till he calls us for something different.
Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman
Both Luke and Mark sandwich the healing of the sick woman between the events leading up to Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter back to life. And for good reason, as it seems there are a lot of similarities between the two.
Jairus, a synagogue leader, came to Jesus and fell at his feet as his twelve year old daughter was dying. We are not sure about Jairus’ stand on the heated debate among the Jewish elders regarding the validity of Jesus. But when he saw his only daughter he came running to Jesus to beg for healing.
At the same time there was this woman who had been bleeding throughout the lifetime of the twelve year old girl. According to the Jewish customs (Leviticus 15:25-30) she has been unclean during the entire period. Just imagine her condition for the past twelve years of her life. She was barred from entering the synagogues and could have no human contact. No wonder when Jesus asked who had touched him, she came trembling before him. She was desperate for healing and risked punishment by coming out in a crowded area. The woman literally grabbed her opportunity to be healed with both hands. Does our hesitance to come out of our shells deter us from receiving healing from God?
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. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” – Luke 8:47-48
Jesus calls her daughter, and gave her the public acknowledgement she needed to be welcomed back into society. Seeing this daughter receive healing, Jairus’ faith would have grown for his own daughter. But as soon as the bleeding woman received healing Jairus’ daughter was declared dead.
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.” – Luke 8:49
Jesus asked Jairus to have faith and said that his daughter would also be healed. When they reached the house, Jesus only took three of his closest disciples and the parents of the child to the room where the body lay. Jesus did not want the hired mourners and so called well wishers to become a stumbling block for the couple to receive their daughter back. The biggest barrier to healing and deliverance is unbelief.
This chapter started off with Luke mentioning the women disciples about whom we hardly hear from the other writers and ended with Jesus giving two daughters a new life, a life built on faith.