In chapter 8, Luke is sharing with us four events of hopelessness and despair in three acts. These events are put together to show us something very important about Jesus. Luke wants to ask and answer the question, “Who is this Jesus?”
Lord Over The Deep (8:22-25)
Jesus gets into a boat with his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake, known as the Sea of Galilee (show map). This journey is a few miles and Jesus falls asleep in the boat. We must not imagine some sort of yacht where Jesus went downstairs and was no longer exposed to the elements. Instead we must think of a long fishing boat able to hold 15 men that is exposed to the elements (see photo). Jesus is not tucked away in the bottom of the boat but is right there with his disciples in the boat. While sailing across the lake a great windstorm came down on the lake. Scientific studies have shown this description to be very accurate. The lake is 700 feet below sea level and the mountains around the lake are approximately 1000 feet above sea level. Because of the terrain of the land around the lake, wind will rush down the mountains and on to the lake causing great storms to occur on the lake. In a matter of moments the calm lake can turn into a dangerous storm. The storm is so severe that the boat is filling with water. The disciples go into a panic. Remember that some of these men are trained fishermen. They know how to handle storms on the lake. They are seasoned sailors and veterans of the dynamics of this lake. However, these professional fishermen are very worried. In fact, they are screaming at Jesus that they are dying. Jesus wakes up and rebukes the wind and the raging waves. Immediately the wind and the waves cease their torrent and there was calm. Luke wants us to observe a couple of things about Jesus from this short story.
(1) First, who is this person, Jesus? Notice that this what the disciples are saying to each other. Think about what just happened. Who, in the midst of a storm on the lake, rebukes the wind and the waves? Who shouts out, “Silence! Be still?” Further, who rebukes the wind and the waves and the wind and the waves listen? This is portrayed as a complete miracle. The storm does not stop in about an hour. Nor does the waves and wind start dying down. Think about this for a moment: waves do not immediately stop just because the wind stops. The waves will keep going for quite awhile once they are churning. Instantly the lake becomes calm and the wind stops. Jesus has complete power and control over creation. Only God has authority over nature. Only God calms the storm. Notice how the psalmist attributes such power to God.
They saw the deeds of the LORD, his wondrous works in the deep. 25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; 27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 29 He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. (Psalm 107:24–30 ESV) This is the first point Luke wants his readers to learn. Jesus has complete control over creation meaning Jesus is God.
The second point comes from Jesus’ question to the disciples in the boat. “Where is your faith?” Do you really think that you are going to perish when Jesus is in the boat? The only way the disciples would not have panicked would have been if they understood that Jesus is Lord over creation. They did not believe that Jesus would deliver them from this storm. They did not believe that Jesus was powerful enough to deal with the dire situation they were in. If the disciples understood who Jesus was and truly had faith in him, they would have known that the creation is not going to kill God. It can’t happen. Nor will Jesus allow the creation to drown them in the lake when Jesus said they were going to the other side of the lake. Jesus is Lord over creation.
Lord Over Demons (8:26-39)
Once Jesus and disciples finish crossing the lake, they come across a demon-possessed man. This man is a mess. He is not wearing clothes, living in the cemetery, and had been shackled with chains but repeatedly broke them. When the man sees Jesus, he starts falls down and cries out, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” The demon-possessed man is asking to be left alone. Why are you interfering with me? Leave me alone! The demons recognize who Jesus is. He is the Son of the Most High God. He is divine and he is the one who has come to cast out demons. Therefore, the demons begin to beg Jesus to be cast into the pigs rather than be cast into the abyss. This is important. The demons are asking Jesus for permission. They know they are in subjection to Jesus. Jesus is Lord over the demons. Jesus has authority over the spiritual realm. Jesus must have come in the power of God to be able to cast out demons. Further, the demons acknowledge Jesus as God as they tremble in fear of him.
Notice the two reactions at the end of this event. The people from this region ask Jesus to leave because they were seized with great fear. They see what Jesus had done but do not want to know more about Jesus. Rather, they ask Jesus to leave them. This is a reaction that many have when recognizing the great authority and power Jesus possesses. Please leave so I do not have to think about this. We want to ignore how great Jesus is. We want to rule over our lives and do not want to place our lives in the hand of Jesus. Please go back to the other side and deal with the people over there. How many people refuse to consider the God of the universe and what that means for us! If Jesus is God, then we are his creation. If Jesus is king, then we are his subjects. If Jesus is master, then we are his slaves.
The reaction of the man who had the demons cast out showed an entirely differently response. He begs to go with Jesus. He does not want to send Jesus away. He wants to get into the boat and come with him and his disciples. Jesus tells him to stay in that region and declare how much God has done for him. So went away doing that very thing. He proclaimed throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. Will understanding the authority of Jesus cause you to send him away or cause you to follow him and proclaim him throughout the city?
Lord Over Disease and Death (8:40-56)
Jesus returns across the lake and a crowd is waiting for him when he returns. The ruler of the synagogue is named Jairus and he has an only daughter who is twelve years old and dying. Jairus requests that Jesus come to his house to heal her. As Jesus is going with Jairus, the crowds are pressing in on Jesus. We must imagine a thronging, pressing crowd on Jesus as he moves with great difficulty toward Jairus’ house.
As Jesus is going through the crowd there is a woman who has dealt with a discharge of blood for twelve years. Her condition is hopeless as she has spent all of her money on doctors and yet could not be healed. According to the law this continual discharge of blood is causing her to be perpetually unclean (Leviticus 15:25-31). In the pressing of the crowd, she comes up behind Jesus, touches the fringe of his garment, and she was immediately healed. Then Jesus says, “Who was it that touched me?” Everyone denies touching him. Peter is incredulous at this question. “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” Essentially, “Who touched you? Everyone is touching you!” However, Jesus clarifies that this was not an ordinary touch of the crowd. Jesus says that he was aware that power had gone out from him. This is an amazing statement. Jesus noticed that power went out of him. We cannot begin to explain this except that Jesus is truly God. This is something crowds understood also. “And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all” (Luke 6:19 ESV). At this, the woman comes trembling and falling down before Jesus and declared in the presence of all why she touched him and how she was immediately healed. Jesus declares, “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.” The gospel of Mark tells us that she thought he would be healed if she just touched his clothing. What great faith to recognize that Jesus is Lord over diseases. Jesus is so powerful and carries so much authority that even touching him would bring healing.
In this moment of great glory as this woman has been healed, sad news arrives for Jairus. Someone from Jairus’ house comes and tells him that his daughter is dead. Do not bother the teacher anymore. Imagine the tears he is shedding. Imagine the pain in his heart. Jesus tells Jairus, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” When Jesus comes to the house, he only allows James, John, and Peter to come into the house along with the dead girl’s mother and father. As Jesus is about to enter the house, he tells the mourners to not weep because the girl is only sleeping. However, they all laugh at Jesus because they know that the girl is actually dead. Jesus enters the house, takes the girl’s hand, and says, “Child, arise.” Her spirit returns to her body, she gets up from the bed, and is given something to eat.
Jesus shows authority and power over death. Circumstances and events that are greater than humans are not greater than Jesus. Jesus has power over the weather, the demons, all diseases, and even death. We have control over none of these things. We cannot prevent death coming upon us. All of us are going to die. We cannot heal ourselves of the various diseases, illnesses, and syndromes with which we are afflicted. We cannot even change the weather. Jesus is stronger than all of these things. Jesus is Lord over all. These stories show us the power of Jesus. Jesus is God and he is filled with all the power of God.
Jesus not only has the power, but he has the compassion to act. Jesus has the desire to do. It would be amazing enough to see the great power Jesus is exerting. Even more impressive is that Jesus has the desire to act upon that power. This is perhaps one of the more disappointing things we see in our world today. There are people who have power but do not use that power to help others. We see people have billions of dollars but do not use their wealth to help the sick. Even we have various opportunity to do good and yet often let those opportunities pass us by. This is not true of Jesus. Jesus did not use his power for self-advancement. He used his power to prove he was God while at the same time desiring to help his creation. Not only does Jesus have the power, but he wants to do things for us. We have an accessible God. We have a God who loves us, cares for us, and acts on our behalf.
Notice one other aspect of the power of Jesus. Jesus never used his power to avoid the trials of life. Jesus does not go on the boat with his disciples and keep the storms from overtaking the boat. Jesus could have done that. He does not. Jesus does not prevent the man from being demon-possessed. Jesus does not prevent the woman with the flow of blood from ever being sick with that disease. Jesus does not prevent Jairus’ daughter from dying. Jesus does not cause us to avoid the trials, but delivers us through the trials. Jesus calms the storm. Jesus casts out the demons. Jesus heals the woman. Jesus raises the dead child.
Following Jesus does not mean that he will use his power to keep you from the storms of life. Jesus is Lord over all and will use his power to deliver you through troubles, not to keep you from troubles. The reason why Jesus does this is clear from the story. It is how Jesus searches for faith. Jesus allows the storm on the lake and asks, “Where is your faith?” With the demon-possessed man we see Jesus finding out who will follow him and who will send him away. The woman with the flow of blood was healed because of her faith in Jesus. Jairus had a choice to listen to the messenger who said it was too late and to not trouble Jesus any further or to listen to Jesus who said, “Do not fear; only believe.” Where is your faith? The way we handle the difficulties of life shows our Lord where our faith rests. Jesus has power of all things. Will you trust him to get your through your difficulties? Will you believe in him when your boat is sinking? Will you serve him even when your child dies? Will you proclaim him when the rest of the region rejects him? Will you approach him and touch him because you know he is the only one who can heal your life?