Luke 8

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A Key Verse

No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand so that those who enter can see the light. – Luke 8:16

What’s Happening?

As Jesus and his followers continue their ministry, women take on a more pronounced, and probably more scandalous role. Men and women traveling together, who were not family, was suspicious.  But Jesus travels with them and even redefines family in this chapter to mean all those who follow him.  Having healed even death in the previous chapter, in this chapter he conquers the weather by stopping the storm that nearly drowns him and the apostles.

This Chapter’s Mini-Message

Mary Magdalene in Penitence, El Greco, 16th century Spain

Women who followed Jesus

8:2 some women This co-ed group of travelers surely would have raised some attention!  Mary Magdalene is first mentioned in this verse.  In tradition she has been portrayed as a prostitute, but Luke does not say that.  He merely says she had been healed of “seven demons,” so probably still had a controversially past.  Not all of these women necessarily traveled as “providing out of their resources” may refer to women who offered hospitality and food to Jesus and the apostles as they traveled. Nonetheless, the role of women in Jesus’ movement was becoming more remarkable.

8 Soon afterward, Jesus traveled through the cities and villages, preaching and proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom. The Twelve were with him, along with some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses. Among them were Mary Magdalene (from whom seven demons had been thrown out), Joanna (the wife of Herod’s servant Chuza), Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

The Sower (Sower with Setting Sun), Vincent Van Gogh, 19th century France

Parable of the soils

8:4 Parables are apparently Jesus’ preferred way to teach in Luke.  He is a creative storyteller, and uses stories to teach religion.  The parables are rooted in local life, in farming, in fishing, in local place names and customs, but their messages are timeless.  They also show that Jesus is creative, inventing stories and engaging his listeners, not dryly reciting religious abstracts.

When a great crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from one city after another, he spoke to them in a parable“A farmer went out to scatter his seed. As he was scattering it, some fell on the path where it was crushed, and the birds in the sky came and ate it.  Other seed fell on rock. As it grew, it dried up because it had no moisture.  Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorns grew with the plants and choked them.  Still other seed landed on good soil. When it grew, it produced one hundred times more grain than was scattered.” As he said this, he called out, “Everyone who has ears should pay attention.”

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “You have been given the mysteries of God’s kingdom, but these mysteries come to everyone else in parables so thatwhen they see, they can’t see, and when they hear, they can’t understand.

11 “The parable means this: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seed on the path are those who hear, but then the devil comes and steals the word from their hearts so that they won’t believe and be saved. 13 The seed on the rock are those who receive the word joyfully when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while but fall away when they are tempted. 14 As for the seed that fell among thorny plants, these are the ones who, as they go about their lives, are choked by the concerns, riches, and pleasures of life, and their fruit never matures. 15 The seed that fell on good soil are those who hear the word and commit themselves to it with a good and upright heart. Through their resolve, they bear fruit.

Sharing the light

16 “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand so that those who enter can see the light. 17  Nothing is hidden that won’t be exposed. Nor is anything concealed that won’t be made known and brought to the light. 18  Therefore, listen carefully. Those who have will receive more, but as for those who don’t have, even what they seem to have will be taken away from them.”

Contemporary Christian group DC Talk, “In the Light”

Modern monastic chant by Taizé Community, “The Lord is My Light”

Jesus’ family

8:19 mother and brothers Mary wants to see her son, but the crowds are too big.  Just like when Jesus was 12 at the temple, he reacts by portraying his obligations as bigger.  He tells all gathered that his mother and brothers, his family, includes those who “listen to God’s word and do it.”  Jesus is inviting his hearers to be his family.  Also, this passage is a clue that Mary most like was not forever a virgin and children after Jesus.

19 Jesus’ mother and brothers came to him but were unable to reach him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”

21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who listen to God’s word and do it.”

Jesus Calms the Sea, Laura James, 21st century United States

Jesus calms the sea

22 One day Jesus and his disciples boarded a boat. He said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” So they set sail.

23 While they were sailing, he fell asleep. Gale-force winds swept down on the lake. The boat was filling up with water and they were in danger. 24 So they went and woke Jesus, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” But he got up and gave orders to the wind and the violent waves. The storm died down and it was calm.

25 He said to his disciples, “Where is your faith?”

Filled with awe and wonder, they said to each other, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him!”


Don’t Let Storms Trouble You

Contemporary Christian group Casting Crowns, “Praise You in the Storm”

Modern monastic chant by Taizé Community,
“Nada te turbe (Don’t let anything trouble you)”


Jesus frees a demon-possessed man

26 Jesus and his disciples sailed to the Gerasenes’ land, which is across the lake from Galilee.27 As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, a certain man met him. The man was from the city and was possessed by demons. For a long time, he had lived among the tombs, naked and homeless. 28 When he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down before him. Then he shouted, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!”29 He said this because Jesus had already commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had taken possession of him, so he would be bound with leg irons and chains and placed under guard. But he would break his restraints, and the demon would force him into the wilderness.

30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had entered him. 31 They pleaded with him not to order them to go back into the abyss.[b] 32 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission, 33 and the demons left the man and entered the pigs. The herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and drowned.

34 When those who tended the pigs saw what happened, they ran away and told the story in the city and in the countryside. 35 People came to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully dressed and completely sane. They were filled with awe. 36 Those people who had actually seen what had happened told them how the demon-possessed man had been delivered.37 Then everyone gathered from the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave their area because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and returned across the lake.38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged to come along with Jesus as one of his disciples. Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell the story of what God has done for you.” So he went throughout the city proclaiming what Jesus had done for him.

Jesus heals two women

40 When Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they had been waiting for him. 41 A man named Jairus, who was a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet. He pleaded with Jesus to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a twelve-year-old, was dying.

As Jesus moved forward, he faced smothering crowds. 43 A woman was there who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had spent her entire livelihood on doctors, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the hem of his clothes, and at once her bleeding stopped.

Christ heals a woman with an issue of blood, 6th century, Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy

45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When everyone denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are surrounding you and pressing in on you!”

46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me. I know that power has gone out from me.”

47 When the woman saw that she couldn’t escape notice, she came trembling and fell before Jesus. In front of everyone, she explained why she had touched him and how she had been immediately healed.

48 “Daughter, your faith has healed you,” Jesus said. “Go in peace.”

49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the synagogue leader’s house, saying to Jairus, “Your daughter has died. Don’t bother the teacher any longer.”

50 When Jesus heard this, he responded, “Don’t be afraid; just keep trusting, and she will be healed.”

51 When he came to the house, he didn’t allow anyone to enter with him except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 They were all crying and mourning for her, but Jesus said, “Don’t cry. She isn’t dead. She’s only sleeping.”

53 They laughed at him because they knew she was dead.

Resurrection of Daughter of Jairus, Vasily Polenov, 19th century Russia

8:54 give her something to eat As those mourning a little girl’s death start rejoicing about her miraculous resurrection, Jesus is calm and practical, instructing them to feed her a meal.

54 Taking her hand, Jesus called out, “Child, get up.” 55 Her life returned and she got up at once. He directed them to give her something to eat56 Her parents were beside themselves with joy, but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.

Things to Think About
  • In some Christian traditions, people at church call each other “Brother and Sister.” In Luke 8, Jesus encourages seeing fellow followers as family.  How would your relationships at church or youth group be different if you saw one another as family?
A Prayer

God of light,
Help me see you storm-calming hands in my dark times
Help me reflect your light and not hide it
Help me me bold about your truth, Amen

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