Luke 8:22-39

22One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. 23As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25"Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."

26They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. 27When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" 29For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

30Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

"Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

32A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. 33When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. 37Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

38The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39"Return home and tell how much God has done for you." So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

Main Points

1. Jesus is fully human (vv. 22-23).

So far in the book of Luke, we have seen that:
a. Jesus grew up as all humans do (2:52) in a real family (8:19-20)
b. He could become hungry (4:1-2, 6:1-4)
c. He relied upon God in prayer (5:16, 6:12)
d. And now, in this passage he shows how exhausted and tired he is by going to sleep (v. 23).

Implications of Christ's humanity:
a. His payment of the penalty for our sin can truly serve us. Because he was one of us, he could truly offer a sacrifice on our behalf (Heb 2:16-18).
b. He can truly sympathize with us, because he has gone through all that we might undergo. "When we are hungry, weary, lonely, he fully understands, for he has gone through it all himself (Heb 4:15)" (Erickson, Introduction to Christian Doctrine, 1992, p. 223). It is certainly his identification with humans that motivates him, in part, to intercede for those who trust in him (Heb 7:24-25).

Discussion Question 1: What does Christ's humanity also suggest about a) human nature itself; and b) God himself?

2. Faith is something that God's people need to exercise continually (vv. 24-25).

"Faith is something you and I have to bring into operation. That is exactly what our Lord said to these men. He said: 'where is your faith?' Which means, 'why are you not taking your faith and applying it to this position?' You see, it was because they did not do so, because they did not put their faith into operation, that the disciples had become unhappy and were in the state of consternation" (Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, p. 143).

Were the disciples wrong to be concerned about the storm? No, but they let their fear overtake them to such a degree that they went into a panic. Consequently, they forgot that:

a) the mighty, powerful Lord was present with them (Ps 23:4, Ps 27:1, Ps 46:1-3).
b) he would never leave or forsake them (Deut 31:6; Heb 13:5).
c) he would comfort them and strengthen them (Ps 23:4; Isa 41:10).
d) no matter what the LORD brought to pass, He would fulfill His purpose for them (Ps 138:8) and would give them never-ending life in His presence - even beyond death (Ps 16:7-11).

Discussion Question 2: During times of severe difficulty, in what ways can we exercise and strengthen our faith in Christ, so that we don't have to give in to fear?

3. Not only is Jesus fully human, but he is also fully God (vv. 25-33).

a) By silencing the storm, He shows his power over nature, as He had already done in Lk 5:4-11. Note how, in Ps 107:23-30, it is the LORD who is described as the only one who can stir up sea storms and then still them.

b) By controlling demons, He shows that - no matter how much they try to destroy the work of God - He has such authority over them that even they admit it (!), pleading with Him not to be sent into the Abyss (which, according to Rev 9:1-6, and 20:1-10, is their ultimate destination). Note also Satan's request to God for "permission" to afflict Job (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6).

Discussion Question 3: How does it comfort you to know that Christ is completely in control of the whole universe and everything in it?

4. People are more important to Jesus than creatures (vv. 30-33).

Jesus sought to remove demons from the man, but had no qualms about granting the demons' request to be sent into the pigs. It is not as though God does not care for creatures, or that He doesn't care how humans treat them (Mt 6:26, Prov 12:10), but human beings alone are made in His image (Ps 8:3-8; Gen 1:26-27) and are thus "worth more than many sparrows" (Mt 10:31).

5. Typically, fear leads people to reject God (vv. 34-37).

Fear is such an overpowering emotion that unbelievers cannot help but always be controlled by it (Heb 2:14-15). If it were not for God's mercy, of course, so would have the disciples (and all of us who trust Christ today). But contrasting the response of these townsfolk to Jesus' power, with that of the disciples' response to it during the storm, will reveal God-dependence from one party (v. 24, feeble though it may be) and God-rejection from the other.

Discussion Question 4: Why do you think the Gerasenes people were so afraid of the miraculous work that Jesus did? Why do you think many people today would fear God's works to the point of rejection?

6. The LORD wants all of His people to be witnesses for Him, but He does not want everyone to leave their homelands to do so (vv. 38-39).

- Christ did not allow the healed the Geresenean man to accompany him. He told him to go home and be a witness for him there.

- Luke later records the resurrected Jesus as saying to his disciples, "...you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Note that Jesus first names the place where they happen to be - and then moves outward.

- If all Christians left their homelands, who would be left in the forsaken lands to be a light to those who need Christ?- Nevertheless, whether at home or abroad, Christ commands His followers to acknowledge Him before people (Mt 10:32-33).

- Final note: as we testify to others what God has done in our lives, we are to attest first and foremost to his grace in delivering us from our sin. The additional words that Mark records Jesus as saying (since he and Matthew give parallel accounts in Mk 4:35-5:20 and Matt 8:23-34, respectively) are helpful here: "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you " (emphasis mine).

- So often today, "testimonies" given by Christians amount to little more than "how God has made my life better/more fulfilling". Jesus' words as recorded in Mark, however, remind us to focus on things of ultimate importance when others inquire about our faith.

Discussion Question #5: Do you find it difficult to be a bold witness for Christ to the people around you? What steps can we take to overcome whatever fears we may have in this activity?