Sat, 26 January 2008
Beginning in Chapter 8, our study continues Luke's account of Jesus' active ministry. Accompanied by "the twelve [...], some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary, called Magdalene [...] and many others," Jesus draws large crowds when he preaches (v. 2-3).
To one great crowd, Jesus delivers the parable of the Sower and the Seed, or what we might more aptly call the Parable of the Soils. These different soils are a good illustration of a number of stages of the spiritual life. After Jesus lists the various soils, we see that each type represents richer grade of soil, and each is more able to bear and sustain a healthy spiritual life than the last. Lastly, He describes our final goal, "And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience" (v. 15). This and all the parables of this chapter relay that in order to achieve this, we must seek Him, persevere in our seeking, ask his aid and never relent.
Exhausted from His ministry, Jesus then falls asleep while traveling across the Sea of Galilee. Soon thereafter, a sudden storm of wind begins to overtake their boat. His apostles awake Him with such little faith that as soon as He has rebuked the wind and the water, he chastises them for their weak faith. How often do we act like the disciples and doubt whether God will protect His people in times of peril?
Upon arrival at the shore, we see the Lucan account of a man possessed by Legion who lives among the catacombs in the country of the Gerasenes. Confronting this man, Jesus casts out the numerous demons into a herd of swine that hurl themselves over a cliff and into the sea. Jesus then gives the healed man a mission to speak of God's miraculous power.
In verses 40 through 48, one faithful touch of Jesus' cloak heals a woman with a twelve-year hemorrhage, although the miraculous power of God will not go out into any other member of the jostling crowd surrounding Him. Jesus then raises Jairus' daughter from the dead amidst the of laughter her hired mourners (v. 49-56).
In the beginning of Chapter 9, Jesus sends out the twelve throughout the villages of Galilee with "no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money" to minister to the people through "preaching the gospel and healing" (v. 3). Even at this relatively early stage of Jesus' public ministry, Herod hears of all that has been done and seeks to see Jesus.
Upon the return of the disciples from their missionary activity, they gather with Jesus in the lonely desert area of Bethsaida. Here Jesus multiples five loaves and two fish into enough food to feed five thousand men, in addition to the accompanying women and children, with twelve baskets of food left over (v. 10-17).
Luke quickly relays crucial gospel events in verses 18-27: Peter confesses that He is "the Christ of God," Jesus speaks to the suffering He will undergo at the hands of the Jewish leaders, and Jesus describes what it means to truly be His disciple, "let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
At the Transfiguration of Jesus, John, James and Peter witness Jesus transfigured with Moses and Elijah (v. 28-36). Peter's impetuous line contrasts the voice of God calling heaven and bellowing "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to Him!"
As Jesus and the three return from the mountain, they witness the plea of a father whose son foams from the mouth with a demon, one whom His own disciples could not expel. Luke, unlike the other synoptic writers chronicles Jesus response to the man's request, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you?" (v. 41). The words of Jesus hearken to God's complaint against His people in the 14th chapter of Numbers, where people look only for miracles and have no recourse to God or His ways. As the crowd cheers that Jesus has expelled the violent demon, Jesus reminds them that He will go to the cross for them, but they do not understand.
The conclusion of Chapter 9 showcases three teachings on discipleship. Jesus shows the price of discipleship when he says "foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head," and later "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God" and finally "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God" (v. 57-62). In all of these, we see how Jesus calls all of his disciples to follow Him in total self-giving.