David Guzik's Commentary on the Bible
Luke 8 - THE IMPORTANCE AND POWER OF JESUS’ WORD
A. The parable of the soils.
1. (Luke 8:1-3) Women who ministered to Jesus.
Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.
a. Preaching and bringing glad tidings: Is “preaching the good news.” Jesus’ message to people was good news, not bad news.
b. And certain women: Why does Luke specifically mention the women who followed and served Jesus? Because in that day, Rabbis generally refused to teach women and almost always gave them an inferior place - but not Jesus.
i. Isn’t it interesting that all of Jesus’ enemies were men?
ii. One of these women was Mary called Magdalene: “The Christian imagination has made free with Mary Magdalene, mostly seeing her as a beautiful woman whom Jesus had saved from an immoral life. There is nothing whatever in the sources to indicate this.” (Morris)
c. And many others who provided for Him from their substance: We see the real humble nature of Jesus, who was willing to make Himself dependent upon others. He didn’t have to; He could have just created all the money He would ever need. But was godly enough to receive from others.
i. Many of us are too proud to receive help from others. But sometimes the ability to humbly receive is a better measure of Jesus in our lives than the ability to give. Giving often puts us in a higher place, but receiving may put us in a lower place.
2. (Luke 8:4-8) The parable of the soils.
And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
a. He spoke by a parable: The word parable comes from the idea of “to set along side.” As Jesus used parables, it means to set a spiritual truth along side a daily truth of living.
b. A sower went out to sow his seed: In this parable, Jesus described something they were all familiar with - a farmer casting seed on the ground, and the seed falling on different types of soil.
i. Why wouldn’t the farmer only cast seed on good soil? Some fell on the pathway by accident (some fell by the wayside), but most of the seed was sown on ground that was plowed after the seed was cast. Therefore, you didn’t know where rocks were or where thorns might grow.
c. The seed fell on three areas without lasting success: on the pathway (the wayside), on the rocky ground (on rock), and on the thorny ground (among thorns). But some of the seed fell on good ground.
d. Though this is commonly called the parable of the sower, it should really be called the parable of the soils. The difference is never the seed, but on the kind of soil it lands on.
3. (Luke 8:9-10) The purpose of parables.
Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?” And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’“
a. To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables: As Jesus used them, parables were more like puzzles or riddles than illustrations. Only those who had the right “key” could understand them. The disciples, who wanted the things of God, were given to know the mysteries of the kingdom - they could be spoken to plainly. But often, others were taught in parables.
i. The mysteries of the kingdom of God: In the Bible, a mystery isn’t something you can’t figure out. It is something that you would never know unless God revealed it to you. In the Biblical sense of the idea, you may know exactly what a mystery is, yet it is still a mystery, because you would not have known unless God revealed it.
b. Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand: By quoting this passage from Isaiah 6:9, Jesus explained that He offered His hearers the opportunity to dig deep and find the truth, or to turn a blind eye to an interesting story. This would avoid a greater condemnation for having rejected a clearly understood truth.
i. “So, that their guilt may not accumulate, the Lord no longer addresses them directly in explicit teachings during the period immediately preceding His crucifixion, but in parables.” (Geldenhuys)
c. In light of this, how blessed are those who do understand the parables of Jesus. Not only do they gain the benefit of the spiritual truth illustrated they also display some measure of responsiveness to the Holy Spirit.
4. (Luke 8:11-15) Jesus explains the parable.
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”
a. The seed is the word of God: 1 Peter 1:23 says that we have been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.
i. The natural tendency is for the audience to critique the preacher. But here, Jesus the preacher is critiquing His audience. How they will hear is the issue.
b. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved: Some people are like the ground on the pathway. They allow no room for the seed of the word in their lives - it never enters.
i. This is Satan’s preferred result. His desire is that the word take no place in a person’s life, so they do not run the “risk” of being fruitful to God.
c. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away: Some people are like the ground that is rocky, but covered with a thin layer of topsoil. They receive the seed of the word with a flash of enthusiasm that quickly burns out.
d. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity: Some people are like the seed that fell among the thorns. They receive the word but allow the interests and cares of this world choke it out.
e. The ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience: Some people are like the good ground, and receive the word with a good and noble heart. They keep the word, and thus bear fruit, thus fulfilling the purpose of the seed.
f. These four categories apply to those who hear the gospel of salvation, but they also apply to those who are already saved who continually hear the word of God. How do you hear it?
o Do you let Satan take it right away?
o Do you take it but then immediately ignore it?
o Do you allow the cares of this world to make your hearing of the word of no effect?
o Do you keep the word and see it bear fruit in your life?
B. The responsibility of those who receive the word.
1. (Luke 8:16-17) They are responsible to expose and publish the truth - that is, the word of God.
“No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.”
a. No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand: Truth, by its nature was meant to be revealed; and God promises that it will be.
b. That those who enter may see the light: If you have the truth of God, you have a solemn responsibility to spread that truth in whatever way God gives you opportunity, even as someone who has the cure for a life-threatening disease has the moral responsibility to spread that cure. God didn’t light your lamp so that it would be hidden.
i. One must either spread the word itself, or spread the influence of God’s word by bringing others to a place where they will hear it; and you really should be doing both.
2. (Luke 8:18) When we hear the word, we become accountable; so we must take care how we hear.
“Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”
a. For whoever has, to him more will be given: Jesus reminds us that spiritual growth follows momentum, positive or negative - when we have the godly habits of receiving the word and living it, more is built on to that. When we lose those godly habits, they are extremely difficult to get back.
b. Therefore take heed how you hear: If we want to hear more from God, we must obey what we have already heard.
3. (Luke 8:19-21) We show that we are close to Jesus by hearing and obeying His word.
Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
a. Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd: We might have expected that Jesus’ family would have special privileges before Him; it almost surprises us that they do not.
b. My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it: Jesus indicates that His closest family is made up of those who hear and obey God’s word. How can I draw close to God? By hearing His word and doing it. You can pray or sing or fast all day long, but if you are not hearing His word and doing it, you are not really drawing close to God.
c. Brothers . . . brothers . . . brothers: Jesus plainly had many brothers and sisters. The Roman Catholic idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary contradicts the plain meaning of the Bible.
i. The brothers of Jesus never seemed to be supportive of His ministry before His death and resurrection (John 7:5, Mark 3:21).
C. Jesus calms the storm.
1. (Luke 8:22-23) The stormy Sea of Galilee.
Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.
a. He fell asleep: Jesus’ true humanity is shown by His sleep on the boat. He became weary, and would sometimes need to catch sleep wherever He could.
b. A windstorm came down on the lake: The Sea of Galilee is well known for its sudden, violent storms. The severity of this storm is evident in the fact that the disciples (many of which were experienced fishermen on this very sea) were terrified (Mark 4:40).
2. (Luke 8:24-25) Jesus calms the storm.
And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”
a. He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: Jesus didn’t merely quiet the wind and the sea; He rebuked the winds and the sea. This, along with the disciple’s great fear, and what Jesus will encounter at His destination, gives the sense that Satan had a significant hand in this storm.
b. Where is your faith? Jesus doesn’t say, “Wow, what a storm.” Instead, He says, “Where is your faith?” The storm could not disturb Jesus, but the unbelief of His disciples could and did.
i. How were they unbelieving? It was not that they were afraid of a fearful circumstance, but because Jesus had said Let us go over to the other side of the lake (Luke 8:22). Jesus didn’t say, “Let’s do the best we can and maybe we’ll all drown.”
ii. Just because you have a tough time in a tough circumstance doesn’t mean that you are walking in unbelief. Unbelief is when you ignore or reject a promise or command of God given to your situation.
iii. The disciples also should have known that God would not allow the Messiah to perish in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. What? Do we think that the story of Jesus would end with Him drowning?
c. And they were afraid, and marveled: The total calm of the sea should have filled them with peace, but instead, they were just as afraid when He calmed the storm as when they were in its midst.
d. The disciples ask a good question: Who can this be? It can only be the Lord, Jehovah, who only has this power and authority: O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness surrounds You. You rule the raging of the sea; when waves rise, You still them. (Psalms 89:8-9)
e. This account shows the abiding care Jesus has for His people. “There are many Christians today who seem to think the boat is going down! I am tired of the wailing of some of my friends who take that view. The boat cannot go down. Jesus is on board.” (Morgan)
D. The deliverance of the Gaderene demoniac.
1. (Luke 8:26-29) The man is described.
Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.
a. This is the most detailed description of a demon possessed man we have in the Bible. It is the classic profile of demonic possession. The man has been demon possessed for a long time; the effect was to cause this man to live like a sub-human, wild animal (wore not clothes . . . in the tombs . . . bound with chains and shackles . . . broke the bonds . . . driven by the demon into the wilderness).
i. Curiously, many Christians think that this is how the Holy Spirit works - by overwhelming the operations of one’s body, and making one do strange and grotesque things.
b. When this man came to Jesus (there met Him means that Jesus did not seek out the man), Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. The man could not, or would not deliver himself, but Jesus had all authority over the unclean spirit.
c. When the man cried out What have I to do with You . . . I beg You, do not torment me! it is the demonic spirit speaking, not the man possessed. The demon did not want to leave his “host.”
i. Demonic possession is when a demonic spirit resides in a human body, and at times will exhibit its own personality through the personality of the host body.
ii. Demonic possession is a reality today, though we must guard against either ignoring demonic activity or over-emphasizing supposed demonic activity.
iii. We are not told specifically how a person become demon possessed, other than the inference that it must be by some sort of invitation, whether offered knowingly or not.
iv. Superstition, fortunetelling, “harmless” occult games and practices, spiritism, New Age deception, magic, drug taking and other things open doors of deception to the believer, and real demonic danger to the unbeliever.
v. People often get involved in the occult or demonic things because there is something there that seems to work. Unfortunately it is not something at work, but a someone at work - a demonic spirit.
d. Why do demons want to inhabit bodies? For the same reason why the vandal wants a spray can, or a violent man wants a gun - a body is a weapon that they can use in their attack against God.
i. Demons also attack men because they hate the image of God in man, so they try to mar that image, by debasing man and making him grotesque.
ii. Demons have the same goal in Christians (to wreck the image of God) but their tactics are restricted; in regard to Christians, demonic spirits were “disarmed” by Jesus’ work on the cross (Colossians 2:15), though they can both deceive and intimidate Christians, binding them with fear and unbelief.
2. (Luke 8:30-33) Jesus demonstrates His authority over evil spirits.
Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.
a. What is your name? Why did Jesus ask for a name? Probably so that we would know the full extent of the problem, knowing that the man was filled with many demons (Legion) not just one.
i. A Roman legion usually consisted of six thousand men. This does not mean that the man was inhabited with six thousand demons, but that he had many.
b. They begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss: The demons inhabiting this man did not want to be imprisoned in the abyss, which is the bottomless pit described in Revelation 9:11. Apparently, it is some kind of “holding cell” for certain demonic spirits.
c. The demons went out of the man and entered the swine: The idea that demons may inhabit the bodies of animals seems strange, but the idea is also shown in Genesis 3. It was also appropriate that these demons be cast into swine, being non-kosher animals.
d. The herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned: The destructive nature of demonic spirits is shown by their effect on the swine. They are like their leader, Satan whose desire is to steal, and to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10).
3. (Luke 8:34-37) The reaction of the bystanders to the deliverance of the demon possessed man.
When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned.
a. They were afraid . . . and they were seized with great fear: They were more afraid of a free man than a possessed man; when they see the man in his right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus.
b. Then the whole multitude . . . asked Him to depart: They didn’t seem to mind having this demon-possessed, tormented man in their midst, but they did mind having Jesus around - so they asked Him to leave - and He did!
i. “It is clear that they attached far more value to their earthly possessions than to the salvation of the possessed man and their own salvation as well.” (Geldenhuys)
c. When people are more afraid of what Jesus will do in their lives than what Satan is doing in their lives right now, they often push Jesus away - and He may very well leave if you ask Him to.
4. (Luke 8:38-39) The reaction of the man who had been delivered from demons.
Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
a. Begged Him that he might be with Him: First, this formerly demon-possessed man simply sat at the feet of Jesus (Luke 8:35). But then he just wanted to be with Jesus.
i. This man didn’t only want what Jesus could do for him; the true change in his heart was shown by that he wanted Jesus Himself.
b. But Jesus sent him away: Why wouldn’t Jesus let this man follow Him and be with Him? Because Jesus knew that he had a more important ministry with his own family and community.
i. Many who desire to be used greatly by God should first give attention to being used by God right in their own house; though this truly is the hardest place to minister.
c. This man had a great message to tell: what great things Jesus had done for him. This is a gospel everyone should be able to preach.
E. A woman healed, a girl raised from the dead.
1. (Luke 8:40-42) A father’s plea that Jesus would heal his only daughter.
So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him. And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him.
a. And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house: When the centurion came to Jesus in a similar situation (Luke 7:1-10), Jesus didn’t even go to the centurion’s house to heal the servant - He simply pronounced him healed from a distance.
b. But as He went: Jesus did not demand that Jarius show the same faith as the centurion. Jesus responds to the faith that we have.
2. (Luke 8:43-48) A woman healed of her hemorrhage.
Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’“ But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
a. A woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years: This woman was in a desperate condition. Her bleeding made her ceremonially and socially unclean, and this would be quite a burden to live under for 12 years.
i. According to the Jewish ideas of the time, if this woman touched anyone, she imparted her uncleanness to them, an uncleanness that would not allow them to take part in any aspect of Israel’s worship.
ii. Luke the physician also tells us that she had spent all her livelihood on physicians. He knew how doctor bills could take all that you had!
b. Came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped: When she touched His garment, Jesus wasn’t made unclean, the woman was made whole. When we come to Jesus with our sin, and lay it upon Him, it doesn’t make Him a sinner, but it makes us clean.
i. How could this woman be healed by touching the border of Jesus’ garment? Because even though her faith had elements of err and superstition, she believed in the healing power of Jesus, and the border of His garment served as a point of contact for that faith.
ii. There are many things that we could find wrong with this woman’s faith; but more than anything, her faith was in Jesus, and the object of faith is much more important than the quality of faith.
c. I perceived power going out from Me: When the woman touched Jesus and was immediately healed, Jesus “felt” something happen. Jesus had a sense that someone had just been healed.
d. Because this woman was embarrassed, and thought that because of her uncleanness, no one would let her touch Jesus, she tried to do it secretly. But God always brings His work out into the open, even if it starts secretly.
e. The woman saw that she was not hidden: This probably means that Jesus was looking right at her when He said, “Somebody touched Me.” The woman had to come forward, because Jesus knew who she was.
i. It isn’t hard to see the woman, in frightened embarrassment, speaking quickly, describing the whole situation to Jesus, and being so glad she was healed.
ii. Jesus doesn’t correct her superstitious faith; her encounter with Jesus Himself has done that. Jesus wants to encourage her and build up her faith.
f. What was Jarius thinking while Jesus took the time to minister to this woman’s need? God always seems slow to the sufferer!
3. (Luke 8:49-50) Jesus calls Jarius to a radical faith with a radical promise.
While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, “Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher.” But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.”
a. Your daughter is dead: We can imagine how Jarius’ heart sank when he heard this. He must have thought, “I knew this was taking too long! I knew Jesus shouldn’t have wasted His time on this silly woman!”
i. We sometimes think that God has waited too long, and that things are beyond fixing. But God always knows what He is doing.
b. But when Jesus heard it, He answered him: Jesus gives Jarius two things to do. First, He says do not be afraid. Second, He says only believe. We often can’t really believe in Jesus until we give Him all of our fears and concerns.
c. But the only thing that Jarius had to believe in was Jesus’ word. Everything else told him that his daughter was gone forever. This is both the best place to be and the hardest place to be.
4. (Luke 8:51-56) Jesus raises the little girl from the dead.
When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl. Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead. But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Little girl, arise.” Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat. And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.
a. All wept and mourned for her: In that day, it was customary to hire professional mourners to add to the atmosphere of grief and pain at a death. But the professional mourners could only grieve superficially. They quickly turned from weeping to scornful laughter (they ridiculed Him).
b. He put them all outside: Jesus will have nothing to do with these people who don’t believe His promises; and He drives them out so that they won’t discourage the faith of Jarius.
c. Little girl, arise: Jesus, with the authority of God, speaks to the girl as if she were alive, because God gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did (Romans 4:17), and she is raised from the dead.
d. Jesus didn’t fail Jarius; and He didn’t fail the woman who needed healing. But in ministering to both, He needed to stretch the faith of Jarius extra far.
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