Advent Bible Study

A Guide to Bible Study Methods Found in Scripture

  • Bible Study Books in Print

    Collection of books with Bible Stories and examples showing how to study scripture.

    Click here to see a list of Books in Print

  • List of Online Bible Study eBooks Available

    Advent Bible Study online eBook Store

    Advent Bible Study online eBook Store

  • Stories on the Gospel of Matthew now available as eBooks

    Short stories on the life and ministry of Jesus

    This Ebook series on Matthew contains more than 100 stories about the people Jesus ministered to as a set of downloads at a modest price.

  • Understanding Parables According To The Gospel Of Mark

    Jesus explains how to understand parables

    This book explains how Jesus taught simple lessons so His disciples could understand all parables and scripture with simple lessons a child can understand.

  • Jesus Teaches About Relationships

    There is a difference between a worldly relationship and one made in Heaven.

    Learn what Jesus taught about relationships established in Eden

  • Understanding the Hebrew Messiah

    The Gospel of Luke

    A book based on Luke's Gospel showing the work of God's Spirit in Jesus' ministry.

  • John Chapters 1-10 eBook

    An in depth look at Jesus' ministry from John's Gospel

    Learn how Jesus followed God's Spirit throughout His ministry.

  • The Tabernacle “T” is for The Cross

  • The Tabernacle, Temple, and Sanctuary: Genesis 1 to Exodus 27

    The Tabernacle, Temple, and Sanctuary: Genesis 1 to Exodus 27

    Series of books on the Tabernacle, its construction, the services and priesthood.

  • Prophecies Fulfilled Genesis to Deuteronomy and Joshua to Chronicles

    It makes sense to learn about the prophecies fulfilled before trying to figure out those still in the future.

    Understanding Prophecies Fulfilled is the key to understanding all prophecy. Stories, studies and study methods explained.

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 83 other followers

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 83 other followers

  • © Copyright 2009 – 2016 Dennis Herman

    Material may be copied and shared with permission at AdventBible@gmailcom. Please include the following information.
    © Copyright 2009 - 2016 Dennis Herman
    https://adventbiblestudy.wordpress.com/
    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
    AdventBible@gmailcom

  • The Tabernacle, Temple, and Sanctuary

    A new verse by verse look at the Tabernacle

    1st in a new series of books looking at the Tabernacle just as Moses recorded the details.

  • 10% Off Print Books

    10% off Advent Bible Study Print Books discount code

    Click here to get your code for 10% off Advent Bible Study books in print only from CreateSpace

Luke Chapter 8

Posted by adventbiblestudy on January 1, 2015


Luke Chapter 8

Luke 8:1-56 NLTse Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, (2) along with some women he had healed and from whom he had cast out evil spirits. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; (3) Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples. (4) One day Jesus told a story to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: (5) “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. (6) Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. (7) Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. (8) Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (9) His disciples asked him what this parable meant. (10) He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they look, they won’t really see. When they hear, they won’t understand.’ (11) “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. (12) The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. (13) The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. (14) The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. (15) And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest. (16) “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. (17) For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all. (18) “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.” (19) Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they couldn’t get to him because of the crowd. (20) Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to see you.” (21) Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.” (22) One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. (23) As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. (24) The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm! (25) Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!” (26) So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. (27) As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town. (28) As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” (29) For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power. (30) Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. (31) The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. (32) There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs. So Jesus gave them permission. (33) Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned. (34) When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. (35) People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. (36) Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. (37) And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them. So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. (38) The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, (39) “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him. (40) On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him. (41) Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus‘ feet, pleading with him to come home with him. (42) His only daughter, who was twelve years old, was dying. As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. (43) A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. (44) Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. (45) “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” (46) But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” (47) When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees before him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. (48) “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (49) While he was still speaking to her, a messenger arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. He told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” (50) But when Jesus heard what had happened, he said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” (51) When they arrived at the house, Jesus wouldn’t let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, James, and the little girl’s father and mother. (52) The house was filled with people weeping and wailing, but he said, “Stop the weeping! She isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” (53) But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died. (54) Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My child, get up!” (55) And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up! Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. (56) Her parents were overwhelmed, but Jesus insisted that they not tell anyone what had happened.

This is a strange chapter based on the contrast found in the introduction and summation. The introduction contains one set of key words with the summation containing a number of similar key words, but with a different set of instructions.

Study Bible With Context 1This is one of the most important Bible Study rules of context you want to learn and use:

The introduction and summation of each chapter establishes the main theme, thought, and lesson on the chapter. Themes may be established by key words, thoughts, or contrasts.

Study Bible With Context 1

Whenever we see contrasts used in the introduction and summation in a chapter, we can expect to see contrasts within the chapter. Contrasts are often more difficult for people to see and learn from. God often teaches in contrasts, so He placed this guide, or red flag within chapters throughout the Bible. This emphasizes the importance of the introduction and summations. Not only do those establish the context of the chapter, they also provide a clue to the writing style and how lessons are presented.

Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women he had healed and from whom he had cast out evil spirits. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were overwhelmed, but Jesus insisted that they not tell anyone what had happened.

Jesus took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women from town to village to hear what He was preaching. We can assume Jesus wanted them to learn how to preach so they can repeat the process and help spread the Good News. But after Jesus healed the little girl, He told her parents not to tell anyone what happened. Why? Was it because he was the leader of a synagogue? Was it because Jesus didn’t want the Good News preached inside a synagogue?

Jesus preached in synagogues. He never told people in them not to repeat what He said. So that couldn’t have been it. Was it because Jesus didn’t want people to know He could raise people from the dead? Imagine if that information got out. People from all over would be asking Jesus to visit graves to raise their dead relatives and loved ones. But when we look back at the previous chapter, we see Jesus walked into a funeral procession and raised a widow’s son in front of a whole city. Why the new direction?

Study Bible With Context 1

Once a pattern is established, and we see a break in it, this is an indication to pay attention. It often indicates a movement into a new event. Often a break in an established pattern leads into a sever warning or a wonderful promise of fulfillment.

We haven’t seen a pattern established with Jesus raising dead people. This is only the second, and they are completely different circumstances. But once we look at this story, we can see what happened to determine if Jesus is going in a new direction. For now, we will start at the beginning of the chapter with those details recorded.

  • Jesus Preached From Town to Village

    Luke 8:1-3 NLTse Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, (2) along with some women he had healed and from whom he had cast out evil spirits. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; (3) Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.

    Key words preaching, announcing, and Good News sum up the main theme for Luke chapter 8. Once again we see Luke going against the Jewish – male dominated society by mentioning some of the women involved in Jesus’ ministry. Luke only mentioned three of them here. One was Mary Magdalene, who He cast seven demons out of. The other woman was Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager. We could imagine what effect this may have had if Herod knew his business manager’s wife was one of Jesus’ followers. The last was Susanna, which Luke told us nothing more about. Those and many others contributed their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.

    Three more key words establish another important role for Jesus’ followers. It’s not often mentioned, but Jesus and His disciples needed some type of financial support. You’ll notice Luke included the disciples when he mentioned the support they received.

  • Parable of the Farmer (Sower) and Seeds

    Luke 8:4-8 NLTse One day Jesus told a story to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: (5) “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. (6) Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. (7) Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. (8) Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

    Study Bible With Context 1

    Authors repeat key words to draw attention to their use as symbols. Remember, symbols always point to something far greater.

  • It’s easy to see key words seed, field, and crop dominate this parable. Repeating the key word draws attention to their symbolic use. The first step is to examine how the key word seed has been used in this parable. The farmer scattered seeds. This wasn’t a controlled planting involving specific rows and spacing used for a crop such as corn or other crops like melons. We can assume Jesus pointed to a crop of grain in the back ground. Depending on the season it may have been wheat or barley, possibly some other crop where seed is scattered. The farmer scattered the seed across his field. This points out the farmer’s ownership.

    The farmer was not very careful with his seed since some of it landed on the footpath or road where it remained exposed. The road area was not much more open than the field since the crop was not covered. But the field would have been plowed before planting. Clumps of soil mixed with particles of the previous crop would have provided a rough surface to provide seeds with a reasonable amount of cover, and to allow easy access for moisture to penetrate the surface. On the other hand, the hardened, foot worn path would have offered no cover at all and most moisture would have run off the surface, or accumulated in puddles along the road. There would have been too little or too much water for those seeds.

    The road would have offered no challenge for birds looking for an easy meal. Any seed on an open road would offer an invitation to birds to accept an easy meal before moving onto the plowed field where seeds would be a bit more difficult to locate. Any seed on the path would have little is any chance to survive.

    The farmer must have had one side of his field where he collect and deposited rocks and stones. This surface in fact may have offered better cover for the seed, but when it did rain, water would drain through the rocks down to the ground. If the layer of rocks was shallow enough, and seeds sent down roots long enough to contact soil, they still would not have sufficient sun light to properly grow. Any seeds sprouting on the surface of those rocks would try to send down roots, but if the sun evaporated the water before the roots reached a stable form of moisture, those plants would shrivel and die.

    That farmer must have had a field he was either letting rest or hadn’t cleared for planting. Anyone whose planted a garden knows how quickly weeds will take over. Battling weeds is a constant struggle. Some of those seeds fell in that unattended field and didn’t stand a chance. Unseen battles under the surface waged. Those plants tried to send down roots, but were no match for hundreds of established weeds who wrapped their roots around the new, young roots of the crop and choked them out from the ground up.

    But as with all good farmers, most of the seed landed on the soil he carefully prepared. That seed grew, prospered, and did what it was supposed to do, produce more seeds. Now comes the fun part. When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

    So far the only thing we have to compare this parable to is a few verses in the introduction and of course the summation in chapter 7. Anyone whose read this chapter or any of the other chapters with this parable knows how the key words preaching, announcing, and Good News share a spiritual relationship with those seeds. But the introduction also tells us another side of the story behind that symbol. It takes people.

    Luke didn’t mention the twelve disciples and those women by accident. He pointed out a very important aspect about the symbolism those seeds represent. Without people to hear the message, that good is it? Without people to take the message and spread it, the message would soon die.

    By now you should be catching onto how the chapter a symbol is recorded in identifies the meaning of the symbol in much greater detail than other popular methods used for studying the Bible. Or at least I hope you can see and understand the lesson. All we are doing is following the process the Bible was written with.

    The last story in chapter 7 was about a woman who anointed Jesus’ feet at a dinner in a Pharisee’s house. After Jesus was overwhelmed by her humble act, He forgave her sins. Some people would guess that woman was Mary Magdalene, the same woman mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. It is not out of line to think this woman became one of Jesus’ followers and based on the contents of that story, she was so thankful, she became one of Jesus’ most important evangelists.

  • Jesus Explained the Parable of the Farmer (Sower) and Seeds

    Luke 8:9-15 NLTse His disciples asked him what this parable meant. (10) He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they look, they won’t really see. When they hear, they won’t understand.’ (11) “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. (12) The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. (13) The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. (14) The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. (15) And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

    This is one of the few parables Jesus was asked to explain. We should ask why. It’s most likely because of what Jesus told them after the parable. “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Based on the fact they asked Jesus to explain the parable showed they didn’t understand. So Jesus explained each symbol.

    But first Jesus made it clear, people He listening to Him are permitted to understand secrets which lead to the Kingdom of God. How do words lead to God’s Kingdom? They only lead to God’s Kingdom when we pray about them. Those questions can take us to God’s throne when we ask what they mean and listen for answers. For a moment, we can hear God’s voice as He tells us the spiritual meaning of His Word.

    Sure you can sit and listen to someone preach on this subject. But where are you? If you travel down the block or across town to sit in a church and listen to someone tell you what they think the subject means, are you in God’s Kingdom? If you sit in your home and watch a sermon on TV, listen on the radio, or view a video on your computer, are you sitting at God’s throne? But when you pray and concentrate. When you feel yourself cleansed by Jesus’ blood, when you sit quietly after asking God to explain the meaning of each symbol, you are in God’s Kingdom. You are on God’s time line. You are where God wants you to be. Your with HIM!!!

    The seed is God’s word. We could see the seed is God’s Word when we look at Luke’s introduction where he told us how Jesus took His disciples and went around preaching the Good News. Training is part of God’s Kingdom. Receiving an education at God’s feet is one of the most important steps to understanding.

    The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. Those people hear the message but don’t understand. Why? Those people preaching the message never spent a second at God’s feet. They never felt a need to listen to God. Life has always been good for them. Sure they poured over scripture for a time, always relying on their whits and cunning to unravel one mystery after another. They make their message sound good… but only to unsuspecting people who have never approached God’s throne. Those preachers teaching God’s Word have no hope of telling you how to approach God’s throne. They don’t want you to approach God’s throne. They don’t want you to see or experience God’s Kingdom.

    They are like crows, thieves who will swoop in to steal your last dollar. Their message is an easy way to Heaven…. just listen to them and believe Jesus died. Not why Jesus died, or what He endured, not at the cross, they don’t teach about the disappoints He faced as He taught His disciples day after day up to the point when He hung on that cross, looking down upon a group who understood little or nothing.

    Those preachers seem to have get rich schemes. Maybe one of their schemes worked for them. But they’ll never share their real secrets of lies and deceit. They never want you to learn the truth. They erect a stage of tinsel and glitter to display their wealth and power. They know what the world wants to see and what will attract the part of the world they want to draw in, control, and skin alive as they slowly drain their money for this project or that new building or expense.

    They never seem to have enough money. They never hesitate to ask for more. But if you pay attention, their knowledge of God, Jesus, and God’s Spirit lacks depth and understanding. They are not following the humble example of Christ. They refuse to accept the sacrifice He had … the disciples also made when they followed Him.

    The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. Those people on the rocky soil also hear the word, but they don’t understand. They may hear the word from an inspired preacher, a true follower of God, but they refuse to leave that rocky soil. They think they can make it in this world on their own.

    The farmer collected all those rocks. His hands touched each rock, lifted them, and carried their load. He placed them together so it would be easy to see where not to go. Nothing spiritual ever grows there. But those seeds think they can still make it work. They live with both feet in the world. The water of life comes to them, but the soil they chose has nothing to grasp onto and hold the moisture. Like those seeds on the road, they hear the a message, feel good about it for a while, then it’s back to business as usual.

    Their problem is, they don’t want God to interfere with their business or way of life. They made all their decisions on their own and things seem to be working out fine. They may be middle class, rich, or poor. Not only do they listen to the preacher, but to people with hearts of stone they associate with, and they spend too much time listening to those demons. They are spiritually confused. They are too willing to go back to their own ways. The old ways of the world, lying, deceiving, doing anything that comes to mind to make a dollar, and another, and another. They convince themselves, they know enough about religion. They convince themselves they are better than the people they prey off of. They convince themselves, those people deserve to be taken advantage of. They are like those people plotting in the back ground to take the old widows farm as soon as the funeral is over.

    Those people never spent a moment at God’s feet. They don’t want to hear how to help people. That’s not part of their business plan. They stay away from God’s throne because they’ve already convinced themselves, God doesn’t understand. They think those rocks and stones are their security. Wealth, fortune, large homes, fancy cars, the respect of people who want to be like them. They’ve made themselves a god by worshiping the god of money.

    The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. Those seeds stand a chance. The seeds that sprout make contact with the soil. They receive moisture, but lack sufficient sun light, and they don’t see the competition below the surface.

    They may listen to a good preacher. But those preachers are often over burdened in their attempt to grow an entire church. Those preachers are burdened, weighed down in meetings to figure out if they need to buy a new light bulb, or use one from a different location where light is not as important. They are trying to figure out who should buy more toilet paper, how much to spend, and who should out in a new roll. Their pastors are mixed up and influenced by the cares of the world too much to approach God’s throne and learn the real needs of the church they claim to serve. They are like the Pharisee who invited Jesus to dinner, but forgot to kiss Him and wash His tired feet.

    Those preacher graduated top of their class and felt blessed to receive a calling or appointment to a little church no one ever heard of. They began their carriers with enthusiasm and prayer. But soon ran into problems. Some of the elders who’ve run the church for years didn’t appreciate change. They also wanted to avoid growth that would compromise their control. Those elders knew every doctrine and tradition by heart and made up a few of their own. They thrived in a field of weeds and thorns because they became one of them.

    They conduct the majority of their battles under ground, away from the eyes of the public. Oh they are so sweet and holy in church. But give them a phone and they can spit venom through that copper wire half way around the world. Their goal is simple. Change the new pastor to be exactly like themselves, or destroy him. There is no compromise.

    They send out their deadly and poisonous thrones to irritate every chance they get. Tradition is their poison of choice. A weed will never get up to walk. It will never move. It is grounded where it is. All it can do is produce more weeds like itself. Some times they succeed. There can only be one king or queen weed in a church, so the pastor moves on to a new church.

    The conference is surprised he survived, so they give him a larger church to pastor. The conference itself sets demands to stick to doctrine and tradition. Preach this subject this week, that subject next week. We need more tithe. We need more baptisms, we need new members, we need more exposure, we need, we need. The poor pastor’s superiors never seem to run out of needs and demands. They never seem to let loose of their grip and control. They pay the pastor well. Give him and his family health insurance, a place to live, food on the table, and a few minutes to himself. If the preacher spend those precious minutes in God’s presence, he may be able to come back to those ideals he had when he was young and his faith was alive. But if he wastes those moments, he’ll wind up in a place he never intended to be by never seeing warning signs along the road. He will find himself lost in a field of thorns. He will be like those people he wanted to reach and change when he was much younger.

    And what about those people he preaches to? At first he tried to reach them, but any new message was quickly cast down to the ground and trampled by elders who wanted things to remain the same. Those under ground battles were slow but deadly. Once in a while, he can reach someone. But the field he introduces them to will stunt their spiritual growth just like it controlled his growth. Doctrines and traditions, the weeds and thrones of spirituality. Weeds stunt growth while thorns become effective weapons.

    And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest. The farmer worked long and hard to prepare that soil. He had to burn off weeds, collect rocks and stack them on one side. That farmer had to plow the field and to get it ready to accept seed. Then he had to rely on God for the rain and sun shine, and warm temperatures to make the seed grow while he had to constantly walk among those seeds to keep weeds to a minimum. There was no way any farmer can keep his field weed free. Those fields of weeds are always prepared, planning, and scheming to scatter new weed seeds over the farmers field. But because of the farmer’s preparations, a few weeds are not going to spoil the crop.

    We want to understand this parable. We just don’t want to look and not really see the spiritual lesson. Since the seed is God’s word, we need to look at God’s Word to understand. The general rules of context tell us the most logical place to look for answers is in the previous texts.

    Jesus also quoted scripture when He answered the disciple’s request to reveal the secrets of the parable. “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they look, they won’t really see. When they hear, they won’t understand.’ To learn the secret Jesus pointed to, we have to look up the Old Testament texts. That is always the best place to hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest. Before we look at the texts Jesus quoted, we’ll take a look back at the previous chapter to see how Luke led into this story about the parable of the sower.

    Chapter 7 covered details about John the Baptist’s ministry as well as Jesus’ ministry. This points us back even further. What do we learn from Luke’s account of John’s conception? We saw Gabriel visited with Zechariah. We also saw how his wife Elizabeth understood many of the details Zachariah missed. Gabriel also met with Mary. Finally Zechariah understood his son’s role in God’s plan of salvation and saw Mary’s baby was the promised Messiah. Elizabeth and Mary offered prayers that described their understanding of the changes about to occur.

    Jesus was born in the tiny town of Bethlehem, just as the prophecies foretold. Angels appeared to announce His birth, telling shepherds to go and see Him. Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived. Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the LORD.” (Luke 2:21-23 NLTse).

    Jesus’ parents followed God’s law of circumcision and dedication. During their time in the temple, two prophets, Anna and Simeon met Joseph, Mary. They came to bless Jesus. So far we’ve been shown angels and prophets play a role in God’s plan of salvation.

    Jesus began preaching at an early age. When He was only a boy, He met some of the priests in the temple, asked them questions, and amazed them with His understanding. Jesus showed how to reach out to people before they decide to become an enemy.

    At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus was baptized by John. Jesus was filled with God’s Spirit and led into the wilderness. There He faced the devil and rejected all of his temptations. Jesus answers were beyond human understanding and showed, the devil has little understanding of God’s Word. Satan has no part with those seeds in Jesus’ parable.

    Is that what we’re supposed to see others can’t see? The seed is God’s word. Satan couldn’t understand scripture Jesus quoted during that temptation in the wilderness. Satan showed how he misused God’s Word. He quoted it in a manner it was never intended to be used. Is this the key to understanding this parables and all the others Jesus taught?

    Jesus went out to teach. He announced His ministry in the synagogue in His hometown, but no one accepted Him as the Messiah. After all those years of watching Jesus grow up, they just couldn’t understand.

    Jesus left and went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught there in the synagogue every Sabbath day. There He cast a demon out of a man in the synagogue. No one knew the man had a demon. And that wasn’t the last Jesus would see of demons.

    Jesus began gathering His disciples. He called Simon and his brother Andrew. Jesus told them where to drop their nets. They caught more fish then they were able to handle. So they called John and his brother James to help. After pulling in the net, all four of them followed Jesus. We were shown another way God sends help.

    Jesus healed a leper and sent him to the priests as an announcement. Jesus also healed a paralyzed man. Jesus not only healed him, He forgave his sins. That started the Pharisees and teachers of the religious law on a long path opposing Jesus at every turn.

    Once Jesus assembled His twelve apostles, He conducted His famous sermon on the mountain. He told them, God’s Kingdom was theirs. All they had to do is help people when they saw the need, and love their enemies. They had the choice of producing good fruit, or bad fruit. They could either build their lives and faith on rock or sand.

    Then a group of Jewish elders came to Jesus. They asked Him to heal a slave owned by a friend who happened to be a Roman officer. After Jesus agreed, they all traveled to his house together. The officer came out to meet Jesus. He knew Jesus from a different perspective than most people. He felt he wasn’t worthy to have Jesus at his house. He also knew how Jesus and God worked together. That Roman officer was a very important witness who put the exclamation point on the lesson Jesus was teaching and Luke recorded.

    None of us is going to accomplish anything on our own. God wants us to work together. God wants us to ask people for help. Simon and Andrew would have never been able to haul those fish in without John and Joseph helping. God put every single one of those fish in that net. He knew the exact number and weight. And Jesus needed their help.

    Jesus was and is a teacher. The best teacher in the world is nothing without a pupil to teach. A pupil that learns. The question is, are we learning today? Jesus some times asked for help to open doors. Other times He offered help to open doors. Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law. She instantly got up and served Jesus, her sons, and their friends.

    God arranges life so we are some times teachers and sometimes pupils. Jesus went to help that Roman officer, who put this lesson in such a way, everyone had to pay attention. The man helped Jesus explain a lesson He was teaching, and Jesus healed the slave he loved.

    Jesus didn’t only use the people and things around Him to teach lessons, Jesus also relied on God’s written word, as we see in this instance, when He explained what that parable was supposed to accomplish.

    Another important Bible Study rule is, when you see scripture quoted by an author, always look up the original texts. An inspired writer will only quote a small portion of scripture. Just enougStudy Bible With Context 1h to point you back to the original texts. It’s your job to open up and read the original texts. And remember to check to introduction and summation for the chapter the original scripture is located. This a a major way God uses to communicate with us. An easy way to locate the original texts is to use a chain reference in a Study Bible. Or you can use the TSK (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) you can download and use with E-Sword, and other Bible computer programs.

  • Isaiah 6:7-13 NLTse He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” (8) Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” (9) And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.‘ (10) Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing.” (11) Then I said, “Lord, how long will this go on?” And he replied, “Until their towns are empty, their houses are deserted, and the whole country is a wasteland; (12) until the LORD has sent everyone away, and the entire land of Israel lies deserted. (13) If even a tenth–a remnant–survive, it will be invaded again and burned. But as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down, so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed.”

    Isaiah 6:1-6 NLTse It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. (2) Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. (3) They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” (4) Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. (5) Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.” (6) Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.

    We have to not only look at how Isaiah 6 relates to the parable of Jesus taught, we also have to see how it relates to the chapter that parable is found it. We see God asking for help. How many people answered? There was only one at the time. This relates to the few who will hear God’s Word, and growth in the seed Jesus used as a symbol. See how Jesus pointed us back to find the beginning, so we can see the growth which is our part in the plan of salvation.

    Isaiah showed some of the spiritual aspects those seeds that didn’t grow experience. People will carefully listen, but not understand. They want to read their own interpretations into parables. They want to display their own wisdom. They watch closely, but don’t understand. Birds will watch from a distance and wait for the right time to swoop in and steal the seed that’s easy to find. In and out quickly. That’s how those people like to interpret God’s Word. The gauge their wisdom based on how quickly they can interpret it.

    Hardened hearts relate to the compacted soil on the road as well as the hard rocks. Plugged eyes and ears show how those weeds work, shutting out sun light, stealing moisture and strangling young roots under the surface of the ground. Doing the majority of their work where it can’t be seen.

    How does Isaiah 6 compliment the summation in Luke 8? The house was filled with people weeping and wailing, but he said, “Stop the weeping! She isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” (53) But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died. (54) Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My child, get up!” (55) And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up! Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. (56) Her parents were overwhelmed, but Jesus insisted that they not tell anyone what had happened.

    Isaiah set a scene where towns are empty, houses are deserted, and the whole country is a wasteland. The town and country is dead. But like the tree that was cut down, it can sprout again. Daniel recorded a similar metaphor about a tree sprouting back to life. The world may think it’s dead, but God can bring it back to life from the ground up. Jesus told the young girl’s parents not to tell anyone because all of this work, preparations to raise all the dead, will be done out of our sight. We won’t see those preparations. All we can do is believe the work is being done and complete our role on faith. But that choice along with many others is ours.

    The introduction to Isaiah 6 is where the process really begins. Once again we see God using the service of angels. This time it was a group of mighty seraphim, each having six wings. Isaiah saw this wonderful sight and had the same reaction that Roman officer had. “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.” Now we know what that Roman officer saw in Jesus. That Roman officer worked with God to tell those people who Jesus really is. We see another example of working together. God had one of the seraphim fly to Isaiah to lay a burning coal on his lips to remove his guilt and sin. Neither the seraphim nor the coal had any power to forgive sins, but were used as symbols.

    Thus far, we’ve only been shown one symbol pointing to Jesus’ ministry. John told us, Jesus was a consuming fire. Fire is made up of three basic elements, a fuel, oxygen, and an ignition source. They combine to create something different from their original elements when they existed together. If we look ahead, we see water used as another symbol pointing to Jesus and His ministry. Water is made up of two elements, two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. Both are in the air we breath, but become water when a high electrical current is introduced. Jesus also used bread as a symbol. Once again, a collection of different ingredients that become something totally different when combined in the right proportions. All of those symbols show us how we have to work together. The introduction of this chapter showed how Jesus took His twelve disciples with Him and a group of women to help Him.

  • A Lamp is Placed On a Lamp Stand

    Luke 8:15-18 NLTse “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. (17) For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all. (18) “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.”

    Jesus introduced a new symbol, light. We already know not to go jumping around from book to book trying to figure out what light symbolizes. There’s really no need since Jesus gave us the definition. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. Pick a word, any word, or all of them. Highlighting key words makes it so easy to figure out when and how symbols are revealed in a chapter. Light is linked to the key words hear, listen, and listening when we apply them to what Jesus taught. Light is also associated with teaching. And of course, the light is brighter and much more pleasing and comforting when it meets understanding. Light = listening to Jesus’ teaching and understanding.

    Jesus was careful to repeat the same key words He used in the last parable. Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Jesus showed us a spiritual connection between the symbols seed and light. We also see how Jesus explained the same subject in different ways so people had a greater chance of understanding. This is why context, which takes into account all the information around a word, phrase, or statement, is so important to understand and use in all forms of Bible Study.

  • Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

    Luke 8:19-21 NLTse Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they couldn’t get to him because of the crowd. (20) Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to see you.” (21) Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”

    Can you tell where these key words are headed? Once again, Jesus clearly explained them. When we hear and obey God’s Word, we are a part of God’s family. New Testament writers understood and preached this message. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (Romans 8:14-17 NLTse).

    We have to keep in mind (and keep in context) to see, this is the beginning of the point is Jesus’ ministry where the disciple’s began their spiritual education. When we look at this from a contextual view, all we need to do is look back at the introduction where Jesus takes His disciples and a group of woman with Him as He went from town to town teaching. At this point in the chapter, Jesus refereed to them as His mother and brothers. Jesus introduced a lesson He will expand on in the future. This is the beginning of a new lesson He explained as His ministry continued.

    Sometimes we have to look deeper into a subject or symbol. Not at the things we know, but at those details we don’t know. What do we know about light? It is either there or not there. We know light needs a source. For us it’s usually from a source of electricity. Thousands of molecules cross a wire or other from of filament and produce light. The filament is usually something fragile. In other light sources, a gas is excited by an electrical current and produces light. We often take light for granted and don’t pay much attention to it. Do you see why Jesus chose light as a symbol?

    God’s Word can be fragile and often taken for granted. There is often nothing more than a thin connection between an individual and God. A connection that can easily be broken or vanish into thin air. Often times, very little thought is given to a connection with God. Most times it is taken for granted.

    The same is true with a seed. What do we know about seeds? How does a seed know how to grasp onto a bit of moisture and send out a portion of those elements inside that seed to produce roots?Then another portion to produce a thin blade and send it off in the right direction? The beginning of most plants hardly has any similarities to the mature plant. Tiny plants are very vulnerable and have many enemies. Air, light, and water have to come in specific amounts. Temperature is another factor. Seeds grow in stages and never skip or alter a step. Seeds are also something we give little thought about. But when God scatters seeds, He knows every one of them.

  • Jesus Calmed a Storm

    Luke 8:22-25 NLTse One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. (23) As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. (24) The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm! (25) Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

    At least something listened to Jesus. After He told His disciples, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it,” He is quick to provide an example. If the elements obey Jesus, why not the created being? Didn’t God create all of them?

    According to Luke’s book, this is the first time Jesus crossed that lake. There was always something spiritual about that lake I saw when I was writing a book on Mark’s Gospel. I saw something in Matthew, but didn’t pay much attention to it. When I saw the pattern repeated in Mark, I knew there was something about that lake. That’s what patterns do. Patterns bring up the same questions again and again. When we listen, God will provide the answer. For now, I’ll let you think about it and see if you can pray and get the answer from the source.

    Luke’s story sounds so simple. He told His disciples they were going on a boat trip. Sounds like fun. They all had a nice, relaxing three hour cruise to look forward to. It was so relaxing, Jesus laid down to take a nap. The peace and quiet didn’t last for long.

    It was common for high winds, quick temperature changes, and storms to blow in out of the mountains in an instant. Those four fishermen knew something was up when they noticed a change in the wind. It suddenly died. As the sun was setting it reflected off the clouds accumulating at the top of the mountains. The deep red color reflecting off the calm water gave the water an appearance of a lake of blood. Simon didn’t waste any time. He immediately ordered his brother and two friends, John and James, to grad the oars. Knowing what was on the way, Simon took down the sail. He knew it wasn’t going to do much good on the remaining portion of the trip. Simon hoped to keep the others calm, but those fishermen knew what was coming.

    Simon and the others rowed hard, knowing they had more than an hour left to reach the other side of the lake. There was no turning back now. They tried to make their emphatic rowing a game, so as not to arouse suspicion in the other disciples. Each of them constantly turned their heads to view the approaching clouds.

    It didn’t take long for the others to notice those clouds coming in from those mountains in the distance. But they had no idea how fast they were traveling. Within a few minutes the sky grew dark. The entire scene grew to an ominous dark blue purple. Then seemed to loose all its color. That’s when the winds and waves came. They hit the small boat in an instant. Watching the storm blow in was like watching a demon crossing the lake. The easy rowing turned into something almost impossible. Their frantic rowing turned from a one hour trip into a battle not to loose ground.

    For a few minutes, the other disciples tried to trust in the burly, experienced fishermen. That didn’t last long as the wind grew stronger and the waves grew larger. Water was pouring into the boat every time a wave hit. Were they about to have their lives snuffed out by the water like a newly sprouted seed in the ground when too much rain falls? Suddenly, one of the disciples noticed Jesus sleeping in the boat. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

    Jesus rolled over, stretched out His arms, then laid there for a moment looking at those faces fixed on His wet figure on the bottom of the boat. Jesus read the fear on their faces and wondered where their faith was. They saw Jesus heal hundreds of people and raise a few from the dead. But this was their first encounter with the forces of nature.

    Why couldn’t those disciples figure out Jesus’ power like that Roman officer did? Or those people who saw Jesus cast a demon out of a man in a synagogue and figured out Jesus could heal people. They showed faith when they took their sick to Simon’s house when Jesus was there.

    After a numbers of waves crashed over the side completely soaking Jesus, He go up. He took a few minutes to make sure all His disciples were paying attention. Jesus turned towards the wind and told it to stop. Much to their surprise, the wind instantly stopped. It took a few minutes for the waves to calm down. Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

    There is a spiritual connection between that storm on that lake, the fear those disciples felt, and the story about the seeds Jesus told. Too much water on a newly sprouted seed will kill it. Those waves and all that water could have ended the lives of all those disciples in a minute. There was only so much Jesus could teach them at a time. He had to avoid drowning them in too much knowledge. He had to feed them a little at a time. But, they were still vulnerable to many unseen dangers lurking about trying to take their lives. Like that storm, attacks could come in an instant. But, they should see many of them coming.

    There was also a connection to the light He told them about. In Jesus’ day there were two major sources of light. One used a fuel source, often oil. The other a candle. The flame from a candle is small. The slightest breeze could extinguish it. The size of an oil light was controlled by the wick. The fuel had to be constantly replenished. Both sources of light needed particular care to keep producing light. If they didn’t receive the proper care, they would extinguish and die.

    Jesus’ disciples were only beginning their spiritual journey. On their own, they couldn’t survive some of those tests and trials that lay before them. Satan and his angels had many attacks planned. They needed Jesus and one another to make it through the storms of life.

  • Jesus Cast Out a Legion of Demons

    Luke 8:26-39 NLTse So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. (27) As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town. (28) As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” (29) For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power. (30) Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. (31) The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. (32) There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs. So Jesus gave them permission. (33) Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned. (34) When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. (35) People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. (36) Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. (37) And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them. So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. (38) The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, (39) “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.

    It’s not difficult to see the most common key word in this story. What was Jesus doing? He told them a few parables, took them in a boat where they were almost killed by a storm, and now their faced with a man possessed by a thousand or more demons.

    This is a clear process Jesus used in His ministry. He taught a spiritual lesson which was followed by live field action. Real life examples showing a much deeper spiritual lesson than any of them expected. Did those disciples think every one of those seeds in good ground lead a happy and fulfilling life the second they landed on that good soil? Sad to say, that’s the way most preachers present that parable. All you need to do is find that good soil and everything will be fine. Millions of members all over the world hear the same sermon and leave their churches feeling all safe and secure. Why did the preacher leave out the next lesson and the one following that one? Why did the preacher feel it was safe to sever his connection with God’s Spirit and preach the story the way he heard it or was instructed to teach it? We can’t count the number of lights snuffed out every week because people forgot how to listen and how to study God’s Word.

    I can’t help but think about that first demon Jesus cast out of a man in a synagogue. Now He crossed the lake to find another demon. Most of the time I see movies or hear sermons on this story, they seem to always depict this story during the light of day. This event most likely took place in the early evening. When we take into account the time required to cross the lake under normal conditions, and the delay caused by that storm, Jesus would have arrived later than expected. Then there are spiritual concerns to take into consideration. Jesus crossed that lake to establish a new phase in His ministry, not to mention a new lesson that went along with it. The evening has always indicated the beginning of a new day.

    Imagine the scene when Jesus stepped out of that boat in the dark. The light of the moon and stars case a dull silver glow over the now quite lake. The first details that greeted them were bent and broken trees, leaves and branches scattered everywhere by the storm. But now, everything seemed peaceful.

    That peace was interrupted by the silhouette of a single man in the distance. As he drew closer, the disciples noticed he was naked and seemed unembarrassed as he drew closer. The source of the clanking chains in the dark became evident when the man stepped into the light of the single torch one of the disciples lite.

    The disciples shrunk back behind Jesus and slowly retreated to the boat thinking Jesus was going to soon follow. John stepped forward to stand next to Jesus and offer a form of protection. A few paces away, the man dropped to the ground and shrieked. “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!”

    John was caught by surprise. He turned and looked at Jesus’ face to read the reaction. Jesus remained clam. His expression never changed. It seemed as if He was expecting that encounter. Why would Jesus torture the man? Why did the man refer to Jesus and the Son of the Most High God? John looked back at the naked man on the ground. He waved the torch over him to get a closer look. John wanted to take a step toward the man, but something like a cold chill held him back. John brushed off the feeling, blaming it on his wet clothes.

    John looked at the iron shackles on the mans arms and legs. As he was studying the scars on the man’s back and arms, Jesus asked the man, “What is your name?” It seemed like a logical question. It seemed like the man had difficulty speaking. As John bend over to listen, the other disciples began to move forward together as a group. After clearing his throat, the man answered, “Legion.”

    The single word confirmed what Jesus knew about the man. The disciples were still confused. They gathered around both sides of Jesus to get a better look at the scene. Then they heard dozens of voices talking all at once. “Don’t send us into the bottomless pit. Leave us alone. It’s not our time. Have mercy on us Son of God. We remember you. Do you remember us? Will you allow us to live? We won’t bother you. We promise.”

    The voices came so fast and high pitched they were difficult to understand. The disciples took a step back keeping their eyes on the man and ears on the conversation he seemed to be having with himself. Something didn’t seem right. Then it began to make sense. Bottomless pit, many voices, a man named legion. John held to torch closer to the ground to see if he could see the man’s mouth moving. From the side of his face it appeared his mouth was held open, but not moving. John whispered, “this man is possessed.”

    Two men on top of the bluff were keeping watch over their herd of pigs. They brought the pigs there as soon as the storm let up. It was a treat for the pigs to clean up the fresh leaves and fruits the wind and rain blew to the ground. The herdsmen didn’t have to worry about the pigs running off. Not with a feast waiting at their feet. Those herdsmen had no idea what was happening on the beach below. They avoided the low lying area where the demon possessed man roamed.

    The demons began begging Jesus to let them go into the pigs. The disciples looked around, but didn’t see a thing. Jesus didn’t say a thing, but simply nodded His head. A few seconds later the disciples could hear pigs high on the bluff. The sound started faintly, then grew louder. Soon it sounded like the herd was being attacked by a pack of wolves, or worse as they heard shrieking among the noise of excited pigs. Those shrieks of terror were soon drowned out by the sound of the heard running from the danger. The disciples looked up at the bluff to see the silhouettes of dozens of pigs at a time leaping off the cliff. The light of the moon highlighted their figures for a second before they heard sounds of bodies hitting the water or dashing on the rocks below.

    The herdsmen ran to the bluff and look down the cliff into darkness knowing their entire herd was lost. The torchlight on the beach caught their attention. At the distance they recognized the demon possesses man and more than a dozen figures standing close to him. The herdsmen ran to the town waking up everyone along the way and telling them what they saw. Finally they reached the town and sounded the alarm. Standing in front of the elders, they told their story about how they were sitting, watching the herd resting quietly when those pigs were assaulted by an unseen force. The herd ran off. There was nothing they could do but stand in shock and watch the entire herd plummet over the cliff to their death. They looked over the cliff to see a band of men with the demon possessed man.

    Most of the town’s people grabbed their torches and weapons when they heard the alarm. As soon as the elders gave the signal, the entire town headed to the shoreline to investigate. The crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. It took a while for the herdsmen to figure out what happened. Then they told the elders and town’s people how the man was healed. They told them those demons left the man and took over the pigs. And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them.

    All they could see was their income lost to the lake and rocks. With winter approaching they wondered what they were going to do for food. With a late spring and repeated storms, crops were bad that year. Up to that point it didn’t matter. When crops were poor, it meant more food for the pigs. It was a sort of balance they worked out. But now that balance was upset. What appeared to be a bumper crop of pigs was gone in one night. With any luck, a few could be scavenged and salted before they spoiled. But that would only be enough to get them to winter.

    The man who was healed didn’t think he had any future on Gerasenes. He felt responsible for the death of those pigs and the loss the town suffered. He begged Jesus to let him go with Him and the disciples. But Jesus sent him home, saying, “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.

    What did we learn from this story? What was Jesus trying to teach His disciples on that trip? Did Jesus face the dangers of that storm to save one man? What happened to those demons? How does this story relate to the previous story of Jesus crossing that lake? And how does it relate to the story about Jesus’ mother and brothers?

    All of this should be rather simple. When we go back to the lesson about Jesus’ mother and brothers, we can see how the invitation extended to everyone. When we look back to Jesus’ sermon on the mountain, we see a hint. When they came down from the mountain, the disciples stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of his followers and by the crowds. There were people from all over Judea and from Jerusalem and from as far north as the seacoasts of Tyre and Sidon. (Luke 6:17 NLTse). Judea and Jerusalem are obviously part of the Jewish nation. But Tyre and Sidon are largely Pagan cities.

    Jesus had to eventually make the point, He came to save everyone no matter what their nationality, race, creed, color, sex, or religion, before they heard His teaching. That’s why we saw Jesus healing a Roman officer’s servant, and seeing how that officer taught the disciples something new .

    Before Jesus crossed that lake, He was traveling around towns near His home. His mother and brothers came to see Him. On the other side of the lake, they ran into pig farmers. People who weren’t of the Jewish persuasion. Jesus went on the other side of that lake to reach out to people beyond the Jewish faith.

    To some it may seem like He failed, or those people from that town rejected Jesus. But Jesus left one man behind to work alone. Later that man would become known as one of the greatest evangelists in the Bible after he led ten cities to Jesus. That man started out with his own family, then followed God’s Spirit from home to home and town to town.

  • Jesus Raised a Young Girl From the Dead

    Luke 8:26-39 NLTse On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him. (41) Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus‘ feet, pleading with him to come home with him. (42) His only daughter, who was twelve years old, was dying. As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. (43) A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. (44) Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. (45) “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” (46) But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” (47) When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees before him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. (48) “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (49) While he was still speaking to her, a messenger arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. He told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” (50) But when Jesus heard what had happened, he said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” (51) When they arrived at the house, Jesus wouldn’t let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, James, and the little girl’s father and mother. (52) The house was filled with people weeping and wailing, but he said, “Stop the weeping! She isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” (53) But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died. (54) Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My child, get up!” (55) And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up! Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. (56) Her parents were overwhelmed, but Jesus insisted that they not tell anyone what had happened.

    It looks like it’s time to go back to looking at contrasts. This story is filled with them. There has to be a reason why Luke recorded these two stories together. And God’s Spirit had both those people cross Jesus’ path at that same time.

    The first contrast people noticed must have been their clothes. The leader of the synagogue would have worn his best clothes to met Jesus. Priests believed their dress revealed God’s glory. They were known to wear as many as eighteen pieces of clothing. Because the woman spent all her money looking for a cure, she may have owned only one or two pieces of clothing.

    The leader of the synagogue was near the top of the social ladder. Women as a whole were near the bottom. Because that woman was looked at as unclean, there was not much lower she could have gone.

    The woman had nothing but faith. Jesus told her, “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” Jesus had to tell Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.”

    Jesus put the woman in a position to give a public testimony. Jesus told Jairus and his wife not to tell anyone what happened. When we look at the previous story, Jesus told the man He cast a thousand demons out of to go tell his family. From there the man traveled from city to city telling everyone what Jesus did for him.

    What would a woman who just had an unclean disease and a man who was possessed by a thousand demons have the synagogue leader didn’t have? The question should be, what do those two not have that the synagogue leader prized to most? Could it be too much education can be detrimental to faith?

    What did the man freed from those demons have to preach about? He didn’t have to tell anyone about those demons. All he knew about Jesus was how He healed him. Casting a thousand demons out of someone is a great miracle and testimony, but all the man had to show was his restored condition in contrast to the way he was when those demons had control.

    The woman was in a similar condition. She was still poor. People would have still tried to avoid her until word got around. All she had as a witness was her restored condition. This all sounds too simple to be true. But think about it for a while. What more has Jesus ever asked from anyone but to witness about their restored condition? Wasn’t that a great part of the message for all the disciples? After all, not one of them knew why Jesus hung on that cross. They needed spiritual healing before they were fit to preach. Then all they had to testify about was their restored conditions and how they learned to see all those prophecies Jesus fulfilled. That’s the point. The message is so simple, it never takes a life time of formal education to learn. It does take a touch from Jesus.

    That is not what I would consider a contrast, but a major detail in that series of stories. The demon possessed man went to Jesus and was healed by Him. The woman sought out Jesus and was determined to touch Him. Jairus on the other hand went to Jesus to heal his daughter. There’s no account of Jairus touching Jesus. Is there a difference of personally going to Jesus to touch Him and going to Him for someone else?

    Jairus is the only one named in those three stories. What does that mean? Recording his name made the story personal. It’s a hint for us to look at those stories, especially the one about Jairus in a personal light.

    We all have demons around us. The fact one man had a thousand demons either means they way out number us, or there were a thousand people Satan didn’t have to worry about. How are demons holding you back?

    The woman had a disease that made her antisocial. We are all like that in our own way. And that ties in with Jairus. We could point at him and make a list of why he wasn’t fit to testify for Jesus. What would that solve? Where would solving a two thousand year old mystery get you? Would it make you a better preacher? Did pointing fingers ever give anyone a better testimony?

    It’s time to look inward, or into the mirror and get personal. Putting Jairus or anyone into a group would cancel out everything Jesus taught in this chapter and all the previous chapters. Your goal should be to figure out how these stories fit into your life and how they can make it better.

    These series of stories have a lot to do with those different soils in the parable Jesus taught. And we’re supposed to understand that parable. How can we hope to understand that parable until we figure out how the problems those people had taught a parallel lesson equating to each of those soil types. But that’s personal. A time to get with God and have Him explain the details to you. God knows the demons lurking close to you. He knows the personal diseases you endure. He also knows when you want to put yourself in a position to save others, but are afraid to make that final commitment. God also knows the birds swooping in to take away everything they can. He also knows the stones in life keeping your roots away from the soil you need to find. And of course God sees all those weeds in your life. The weeds your trying to battle as wells as those weeds your nursing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: