(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)
We are in still Luke Chapter 8 where Jesus tells us about the importance of
faith and how true faith affects us.
Jesus taught His Disciples (and us) that:
|C.||Believers Tell Others||(v.26-39)|
|D.||Believers Trust Jesus||(v.22-25,40-56)|
For each of us as humans, faith and trust seem to be unnatural acts. We want to know and understand. There are some things we cannot and perhaps should not know and understand. Our relationship with Jesus required faith. God designed it that way.
In the four sections of this part of Luke, we see Jesus teaching His disciples about His own trustworthiness. He shows them (and us) that He is greater than any problem or issue of life that we may face.
Last week we saw how Jesus proved to the Disciples that He had power over natural forces, the storm. We saw that it looked like He did not care for their safety, but He did. They were depending on themselves when they should have been depending on Him.
Our take-home was that when we get hit by the storms of life, and we will, we need to remember who can handle them, and it is not us, and that He cares about us, loves us enough for us to turn them over to us. Remember that I suggested that what we don’t trust Him for is evident by what we worry about. Worry is a sign of lack of faith in Jesus.
My friend Earl, who was in class last week, came up to me after class last week and pointed out to me that his experience is that “Worry works … almost everything that he worries about never happens.” So I hope we learned that Jesus has power over natural forces, over nature.
Believers Trust Jesus' Power Over Demonic Forces:
This event takes place on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Let’s see what happened.
Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs. Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, 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 seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert. And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”, for many demons had entered him. They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss. Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons implored Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission. And the demons came out of the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country. The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened. Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well. And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear; and He got into a boat and returned. But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying, “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. —Luke 8:26-39Jesus has power over Demons. Let’s see what we learn about the demons in this passage.
In verse 28 the demon says:
Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.” Luke 8:28Notice the fear with which the demons speak to Jesus. It’s ironic that demons seem to have a clearer understanding of Jesus than many of us do!
For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert. Luke 8:29
The demons had possessed this man and tormented him. That’s a clear indication of Satan’s goal is to cause human suffering.
And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. Luke 8:40
A “legion” was the largest unit within the Roman army, numbering 3,000 - 6,000 soldiers. We aren’t told how many possessed this man, but we do know there were a bunch of them.
They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss. Luke 8:31We aren't told what the Abyss refers to but the following passage indicates it is a place of imprisonment for the devil and his angels.
Apparently, some demons are already imprisoned while Satan and the rest face their final judgment some time in the future.
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. ... When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison... Revelation 20:1-3,7Movies and TV often portray Satan and his demons as evil forces of equal or close to equal power with God. That may make a popular movie but it is false doctrine. Though Satan and demons have power greater than humans, Jesus' power even on earth was incomparably greater than that of Satan and his servants. And once Jesus lives in us, His power to defeat Satan is in us as well.
You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4This passage is another reminder of the spiritual realities of life. We have real and powerful spiritual adversaries that must not be ignored.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12C. S. Lewis wrote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which people fall about the devils. One is to refuse to believe in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors...” (C.S. Lewis)
Remember that the disciples are with Jesus, watching and learning. They heard the voices of the demons as they fearfully spoke to Jesus and then beg not to be sent to the Abyss. Then they saw Jesus cast this "legion" of demons into a herd of pigs. What an awesome display of Jesus' power!
Now what do we learn about the man Jesus met?
Believers Tell Others:
This is a great story! I wish we had time to study it in more detail. But since we don't, let's look at a few principles related to sharing our faith from verses 37-39.
And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear. Luke 8:37They had seen an amazing miracle. There was the undeniable evidence in the changed life of the demon-possessed man. But the hearts of these people weren't ready for who Jesus is. Maybe some hearts were hard, others were rocky, others were weedy. Isn't it ironic that the only "good soil" Jesus found was in the heart of a demon-possessed man? Let's not be fooled by appearances many religious people, church people have hearts that are hard toward the Lord. And many of those without Jesus, who live ungodly lives, are good soil just waiting to receive the message if we will only sow the seed!
But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away. Luke 8:38Think about this. The man wants to be a disciple; he wants to follow Jesus. Remember, too, that God's will is always what is best for us. That means that for this man, the best thing he could do to grow as a disciple was to go tell others about Jesus.
Do you think of sharing your faith that way? Do you think of it as something that is essential to your own spiritual growth? What are some reasons we feel we are unqualified to share Christ with others?
Jesus told him:
“Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:39How much evangelism training did this guy get? One half of one verse! Don't say that you don't know enough. You know far more than this one-day-old disciple knew. The Lord's instructions are clear.
Are you telling others what the Lord has done for you?
So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:39This man was a true believer and he proved it through his obedience. Real believers tell others about Jesus. This isn't a responsibility Jesus has reserved for pastors or Bible teachers or extroverts! He expects all of us to be involved in telling others, reaching out to others and drawing them in.
Who comes to mind that Jesus might want with us, sitting in these chairs? When is the last time you told someone what Jesus has done for you? When is the last time you invited a person to learn more about Jesus?
The Rest Of The Story...
Mark 5:20 adds the detail that the man apparently traveled throughout the area of Decapolis (a region which included ten cities) telling about Jesus.
And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed. Mark 5:20In Luke 8:40, Jesus leaves this region after being asked to leave by the people.
But in Mark 7:31, Jesus returns to this same area but the response by the people is so different! Mark 7:31-8:13 records Jesus' experience this time. Multitudes come to him bringing those with illnesses for Him to heal. In fact, Mark 8:1-6 tells us how it was here that Jesus fed the 4,000 people!
What had changed? What had softened the hearts of these people? The answer is in Luke 8:39 - the obedience and testimony of one man, and one that had been demon possessed at that.
Don't say God can't use you. Don't say you don't have a testimony God can use. If Jesus is genuinely in your life, you have a testimony He can use to draw others. If you really believe in Jesus, then He wants you to tell others about Him. Don't focus on your own inadequacies or fears; focus on obeying Him!
So now Jesus has shown us He has power over nature and power over demons.
Next week: we will see that Jesus has power over disease and death also. I would think you might want to be here to talk about that.