Today is December 8 and is the second Sunday of advent. The second candle, known as the Bethlehem candle, is lit representing faith. In Luke 7, we saw many examples of the power of faith. As we continue in chapter 8, Luke looks at some other items in the ministry of Jesus, but will again conclude the passage with a look at yet another act of faith.
Luke begins by discussing a more practical side of the itinerant ministry of Jesus. To do ministry cost some money, today or two-thousand years ago. Luke points out to us that Several women had been impacted by the ministry of Jesus and in return, had become followers. These women had significant resources available and chose to share what they had to help cover the cost.
We then find Jesus sharing the parable of the sower. He tells the listeners that sharing the gospel message is like a farmer planting seeds. After finishing the parable, there is an interesting response from his disciples. They did not seem to understand the parable and began questioning him about it. Jesus’ response to this is even more interesting. He says, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.” (v. 10 NASB) Why is it that Jesus says this.? Why would he intentionally say things in such a way that many could not understand it? Perhaps the intention is not to hide the truth, but it is evidence of those who are open to Christ’s message.
Jesus then explains the meaning of the parable. The point is that there are four kinds of people with whom the gospel is shared. The first are those who hear the gospel, but then it goes away. Sort of an in “in one ear, out the other” idea. The second is those who excitedly accept the message, but it stays shallow and eventually fails. The third are those who receive the message but then find the message choked out by the things around them in life. The final is those who accept the message and flourish.
Continuing on, Jesus gives a second parable. Here he describes the gospel as a lamp. You do not hide it, but instead, you set it out for all to see.
After this, we are left with a story of Jesus speaking in a house. While he was speaking, he was told that his mother and brothers were standing outside waiting to come in. Jesus’ response here is very telling. He says, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” Jesus is re-emphasizing a point made earlier in Luke, that family is not necessarily defined by blood, but by a commitment to following Christ.
After this, Luke presents a story that many of us are familiar with. While traveling across the lake, Jesus falls asleep in the boat. During this time, a storm arose. It was such a great storm that they were sure they were going to die. They work Jesus, asking if he even cared. Jesus got up and order the storm to cease, and it did. He then looks at the disciples and asks, “Where is your faith?” (v. 25)
Luke next tells of Jesus’ encounter with a demon-possessed man. The demon, upon seeing Jesus, cried out, “Where is your faith?” (v. 28) Jesus asked the demon its name, and it said legion, meaning it was actually a great many demons who were in the man. Interestingly, they asked Jesus to allow them to go into a herd of pigs rather than being sent into the abyss. He agreed, and the pigs proceeded into run into the water. The reaction of the people from the region was fear, and they asked Jesus to leave. Before doing so, Jesus instructed the man home, but unlike other times, he told him to tell others.
Finally, Luke finishes this chapter by telling of two concurrent miraculous healings done by Jesus. We start Jesus being approached by a Jewish elder named Jairus. Jairus had an only daughter who was dying. Jesus agreed to go with him but is briefly interrupted by a second healing. A woman who had a hemorrhage for 12 years. She knew Jesus could heal her and believed that if she could only touch the hem of his robe, she would be healed. She did and was, but Jesus, despite being surrounded by so many people, knew that power had gone out and asked who. The woman came forward and told him, to which he said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
He then continued on the way, but they were approached by people from Jairus’s house, Telling him to bother Jesus as the daughter had died. Jesus said, don’t worry; she is just sleeping. While the others in the house scoffed at this, Jairus and his wife, along with Peter, John, and James. He then told the girl to get up, and she did. He then instructed the parents to not tell anyone.
My takeaways from this passage; 1) As followers of Christ, our role is to share the gospel message with those who will listen. 2) People’s response to the gospel is contingent on their receptiveness. 3) Jesus defines family by common purpose and not blood. And 4) Jesus has authority over nature, the supernatural, and life itself.