Daily Family Worship

Luke 8: Still More Parables and Miracles

by | Feb 22, 2024

Luke’s Gospel is emphatically the Gospel of womanhood. He alone records those tender incidents in the lives of Elisabeth, Mary, and Anna which are associated with the infancy of Jesus. He alone tells us of the widow of Nain, whose son Jesus restored to life; of the woman who was afflicted and bowed down by Satan, but relieved by Jesus; of the penitent sinner who anointed His feet; of the home-life scene in the home of Mary and Martha; of the woman who congratulated the mother of Jesus; and of the women who condoled with Him on His way to the cross. Perhaps most significant of all is Luke’s statement here in the opening verses (1-3) of this chapter, which tells us that as Jesus and His Apostles moved throughout Galilee preaching the Gospel, they were attended by a group of women who ministered unto them from their own possessions. Among these women, Luke mentions “Mary that was called Magdalene” – probably so designated from the town of Magdala, where she had formerly lived. By this title, she was distinguished from Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary of Bethany, and other women of this same name. Luke also mentions Joanna, whose husband Chuza had charge of the household and personal estates of King Herod. Evidently, then, she was a woman of some social standing. But of her and her companions, nothing further is known – except for the important fact that their motive in ministering to the Master was one of gratitude, for they “had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities.” Who can estimate, throughout the passing ages, how far the gifts and sacrifices of grateful women have been making possible the preaching of the Gospel throughout all the world?

Parables formed a prominent part of Jesus’ teaching; and here in verses 4-18, we learn the reason why. These matchless illustrations would enable eager and attentive listeners to more easily remember the teachings of the Master; and at the same time, to inattentive or hostile minds, the meaning would be veiled.

The parable of the sower and the seeds falling on different kinds of soils seems to form a sort of introduction to all of Jesus’ parables; for they are vehicles of truth, and our Lord here made it clear that the effect of truth depends upon the spiritual state of the hearers. This parable illustrates the various states of heart which are found among those to whom the Gospel-message comes. In some cases, the word of God falls upon hearts which are pictured by the hard-beaten footpath which runs through the field of grain. No possible impression can be made. The Word finds no entrance, and Satan snatches it away like a bird picks up the grain which falls by the wayside. Faith and salvation cannot result. Other hearers are compared to the thin layer of earth which covers a ledge of stone. Seed which falls into such soil springs up very quickly because it is warmed by the underlying rock; but since the roots cannot go very far downward, the grain soon withers beneath the scorching sun. Similarly, there are hearers who joyfully receive the life-giving message; but when they are subjected to the persecution and trials which followers of Christ must endure, they quickly desert His cause. Still other hearers are compared to seed which falls in places where thorns are growing. This seed springs into life, but it has no room for development. It is robbed by the thorns of its needed nourishment. Thus some Christians are so preoccupied by the “cares and riches and pleasures” of this world that they can bear no spiritual fruit at all. However, there are hearers who are like the seed which fell on “good ground,” and “brought forth fruit an hundredfold.” They receive the truth, and they patiently and perseveringly produce a golden harvest of grain in their lives.

The great message of this parable is summarized in the words of our Lord: “Take heed therefore how ye hear” (verse 18). The purpose of His parables (and of all His teachings) was to give spiritual light. Those who love Him and obey His Word will have their understanding quickened, and their knowledge increased; but a person who is careless or disobedient to the truth will lose “even that which he thinketh he hath.” It is a great privilege to hear the Gospel of Christ, but it involves a great responsibility as well.

It is only from the other Gospels that we learn the exact nature and purpose of the visit which was paid to Jesus by His mother and brethren in verses 19-21. Luke does not reveal the fact that it was one of the most delicate and difficult dilemmas by which our Lord was ever confronted. The real reason why they had come was to interrupt His work. They feared that His mind was unbalanced, and they wished to take Him home. Should Jesus allow his work needlessly to be interrupted? This situation, Luke does not sketch; but he does clearly state the impressive message which Jesus found occasion to deliver. When He was told that these relatives desired to see Him, He pointed to His disciples with the reply, “My mother and my brethren are these that hear the word of God, and do it.” Thus Luke connects this incident with the parable of the sower, which he has just related. The parable shows the need of careful attention to the Gospel-truth; and now, in this incident, the same fact is emphasized – namely, the blessed result of heeding the Divine Word. According to the statement of Christ, such true discipleship as was shown by His followers results in a relationship with Him that is more close and intimate than any which is secured by human ties alone. This spiritual relationship is more vital than any kinship of blood or of nature. It results in a fellowship that is supremely blessed and forever abiding, and it is possible for all! Those who submit to Jesus as their Lord, and who are ready to do His will – all such persons have a right to claim this relationship with Him.

Storms were (and still are) common on the surface of the little lake which Jesus so often crossed with His disciples; and even now, storms are frequent in the lives of His followers. To accompany the Master does not exempt us from struggles and tempests, or from dark skies and angry waves. However, this tempest that is related here in verses 22-25 was no usual storm. Even the sturdy fishermen of Galilee, who were familiar with all the changeful moods of that inland sea, were filled with terror! But Jesus, meanwhile, was quietly resting; He had fallen asleep in a time which seemed to His followers to be the hour of greatest danger. Their fear may have been foolish, but it was wise for them to come to the Master in their moment of pressing need. They awoke Him with the cry, “Master, Master, we perish!” The followers of Christ are not spared from encountering storms; yet in the hour of their peril, they should be comforted by His presence – for they can turn to Him for relief, always and anytime. “He awoke, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.” Then, after He had rebuked the disordered elements, Jesus turned to rebuke His followers with the words, “Where is your faith?” He did not find fault with them for awakening Him, or for crying out to Him for help; He only rebuked their lack of trust, which should have relieved them from distress of mind when He was so near and so abundantly able to save.

The sufferings of a demoniac in the time of Jesus are very similar to the miseries of those who are still afflicted in our own day by what we often call mental illness. And it is important to also note the exact parallel existing between the actions of the demoniacs described in the New Testament, and those persons who are tormented – in all ages – by envy, lust, anger, greed, and all manner of other evil passions which dominate the human soul.

On the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Gadarenes, Jesus was encountered by a man whose suffering and nakedness are pictures of the anguish and shamelessness of sin. He could not be controlled, and he was dwelling among the tombs; and these, too, are pictures of the helplessness, hopelessness, and loneliness which evil passions produce in the hearts of those whom they hold prisoner. And it is most noteworthy that while the demon within cried out in dread, the man himself drew near to Jesus, as if he were really hoping for help. This state of “dual consciousness” is very often experienced by us when we have a terrible conflict of desires raging within us; we have longed for liberty at the very same moment when we have felt the controlling power of some evil passion. But this picture sketched by Luke gives us a hopeful message which shows us that as we cry out for relief, or even before we speak, Jesus sees our heart and recognizes our longings, and He assures us of our release!

Knowing that they were about to be expelled from the poor suffering man whom they had held in their power, the demons asked Jesus for permission to enter into a herd of swine on the mountainside; and this terrible request was granted, in order to give the people of that region an attention-grabbing message of their own peril and of the power of Christ. But sadly, they were evidently more concerned for the beasts which had been lost than for the soul which had been saved, and they requested Jesus to leave their land. As Jesus entered the boat to cross over to the other side of the lake again, the healed man requested that he might accompany Him. But he was told to remain as a witness for Christ in his own home, and among his own people. It is always the desire of the Master that the testimony of those who have known His power should first be given to those by whom they are best known.

As Jesus returned to Capernaum after curing the demoniac across the lake, He was welcomed by a great multitude. And in the midst of the crowd, there were two sufferers for whom the Savior showed His sympathy, as He perfected their faith and relieved their distresses (verses 40-56). One of them was Jairus, a man of prominence in his community; he was “a ruler of the synagogue,” and so he was a person of comparative wealth and power and social position. For 12 years, Jairus’ home had been brightened by the presence of a little daughter – an only child – who was now lying at the point of death. The other sufferer was a woman who was poor, weak, ceremonially unclean, and friendless. For twelve years, she had been suffering from an incurable disease; and she knew that no human power could cause her life to be prolonged.

As Jesus was starting for the home of Jairus, this woman came up behind Him. She touched the hem of His garment, and she was instantly healed! Her faith was imperfect, but it was real. And for her own sake, He required the woman to acknowledge her cure “in the presence of all the people.” Jesus wants us to know that faith is a dependence upon His gracious Person and purpose. And when we acknowledge our relationship to Him, we can receive the assurance that we are truly saved; and we can hear His blessed Word telling us, “Thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.”

The faith of Jairus was likewise imperfect, although it was genuine; and so Jesus strengthened it and rewarded it. When He arrived at his home, He took His three closest friends and the two trembling parents into the death chamber. As He stood before the sleeping child, He took her hand and said, “Maiden, arise.” And then “her spirit returned, and she rose up immediately: and he commanded that something be given her to eat.” Truly, this miracle demonstrates the Divine power of Christ, but the whole narrative also paints a picture for us of the supreme thoughtfulness and tenderness of the Master! However, Jesus commanded that the matter should be kept quiet, for He did not want this miracle to overshadow the focus that would soon be directed upon His own Resurrection, which would be the crowning climax of His work of redemption!

Thank You, Jesus, that You are always ready to heal the sick and bless the needy, and that You are abundant in the bestowal of Your loving mercy upon us! Amen.

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