Luke 8:22-39 [Audio Link at Bottom]
As we’ve been working our way through the book of Luke we’ve really focusing on two key themes - first, jesus is a man on a mission. that’s our theme for the whole book of Luke. We’ve seen that jesus is intent on fulfilling the mission given to him by the father, no matter how people try to get him to serve their agendas or define for him how to do his ministry. the second major theme is that jesus is a man of marvels. Wherever Jesus’ mission led him, people marveled at the things he said, the works he performed and the compassion that he showed. In todays passage, we see how these two theme’s of mission and marvel go side by side.
Since Luke writes his books about the mission of God to teach us about our mission, I’m calling this message, “The Missionary Methods of Jesus.” In Luke 8:22, Jesus takes a missions trip of sorts. Like a short-term trip.
The way that the gospel tells the story of jesus’ short term trip over to the other side of the sea of Galiliee reminds us of another story of another missionary in the Bible. So in order to tell you this story, I’m going to have to tell you that story first. I’ll put the passage from Luke up on the slide, but I’m going to read to you from the story of Jonah.
jonah was a man who lived nearly 800 years before jesus. Many of you know his story very well, but I’ll start reading in Jonah 1:
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.
But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”
And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.” (Jonah 1:1–16 ESV)
Obviously see immediately see some similarities and differences in the story of jonah and Jesus’ mission trip:
- Both Jonah and Jesus had clear direction in their mission, yet Jonah was directed to his mission by the Lord, whereas Jesus set’s the direction of his mission to his disciples.
- Both Jonah and Jesus are to leave Jewish regions to go to non-Jewish regions. Ninevah was the capital of Assyria, Israel’s chief enemy at the time. “the other side of the lake” was also Gentile regions. Jesus goes willingly, cheerfully. Jonah, not so much, he flee’s from the presence of the lord, so he’s got to be dragged there.
- Both trips are interrupted by violent storms. moreover, during the storms both Jesus and Jonah are fast asleep at the bottom of the boat.
- jesus and jonah are both awoken by the others who are desperate to be saved, yet here is where the stories diverge. Jonah confesses that it is because of his sin that the storm has come and tells the men to throw him into the sea to calm it. Only in jonah’s death, would the sailors be saved. Jesus does not such thing. Jesus merely speaks a word to the waves and they are stilled. Yet perhaps there is more similarity here then we first see. Jesus, after all, in another place tells the people that he will provide for them the sign of Jonah - that something in Jonah’s story will explain what Jesus will do. In matthew 12:39-41: An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. Reading on in the gospels we understand that Jesus in fact does the same thing as Jonah. He also offers himself to be thrown into the waters of death to save the lives of others. He also spent three days in the heart of the belly of the fish - the grave - and came out on the third day to preach repentance to the nations.
- In both cases the response to the calming of the water was reverent fear and awestruck worship. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.” ... And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” the calming of Jonah’s sea led the men to fear His God, the Lord and worship Him. Jesus being the one who calmed the sea with his own word, causes just as much fear and marveling, yet in hushed tones - who is this?!?! I want you to keep that question in mind for a minute - “who is this?” these are his disciples asking. You can be a follower of Jesus, but yet not fully know Him. In fact, we’ll never fully know him. He’s God. This is like what people mean when they talk about their faith when they were young and siad I think I knew Jesus then, as much as I could as a kid, but I know him so much better now that I’m not even sure I was saved then. 1 John 2 speaks of this. I’m writing you, dear children, because your sins are forgiven and you know the father, I wrote to you young men because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, I write to you fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. You’ve experienced God’s faithfulness in you life in relational intimacy. But even you fathers, you still don’t know jesus fully. He’ll surprise us and cause us to marvel, both when we encounter Him in scripture, and when he encounters us in life. There may be times when God takes you through times of suffering and storms, and you cry out to him to do soemthing, and then he does and you’re like, “Who are you?”
So Missionary Jesus makes it to the other side of the lake - in a non-gentile region refered to as the Gerasenes. We don’t know too much of this region, only that it was Gentile-dominated - this is a foreign country to Jesus. We know this because of the pigs. Pigs were an unclean animal in Israel, but here there are herds of them. This is pagan Palestine. Jesus is missionary, going as light to the gentiles, bringing the gospel to a faraway land to people faraway to God. Ephesians 2 says, he came and he preached to those who were near, and h e came and he preached to those who were far off.
Missionary Jesus left the crowds to be welcomed by one man. (Actually two, but Luke just focuses on the one). This man had been driven to insanity by demonic spirits within him, becoming like an animal. Naked, alone, and nearly dead living among the dead. He was dangerous, kept at times under guard so that he didn’t hurt himself or others.
This is a case of demonic possession: the text says that the man “had” demons, that “many demons had entered him”. The bible teaches that their are spiritual beings called angels who are God’s messengers in dealing with mankind. At some point, a third of the angels rebelled against God and became fallen angels or demons, intent on destroying God and his works and his people. He town didn’t know what to do with him so he was kept apart, excluded, guarded. Today we would send him to a mental health ward. Listen, I want to be careful here: not every one with mental health issues has a demon, but some might. And some may be influenced from outside. This man had a demon within. [possible people-point]
So Jesus comes and man with the demon shouts out “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” How does he know this? Remember, after Jesus calms the storm, his own followers marveled and said, “Who is this?” Here, the demonized man knows exactly who Jesus is for the demons within him. Which brings us to my second point. My first was that You can be a follower of Jesus, but yet not fully know Him. My second point is that You can know who Jesus is, and still be going to hell for you don’t follow him. James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!
So Jesus heals the man, sending the demons out into the herd of pigs. The pigs all die and the herdsmen flee and go grab everyone in the city. when they get back, they see a miracle. This man completely restored he is now tame, clothed, and in his right mind. It also indicates his submission to Jesus and status as a disciple. Luke presents the former demoniac as a learner, sitting at the feet of his teacher.81 His former condition of nakedness had symbolized his lack of status, his alienation from other humans; similarly, his clothes now signal his acceptance. His former comportment as a maniac has been replaced by self-discipline and meritorious dignity. Instead of rejoicing over the salvation of this man, the people fear greatly and ask Jesus to leave. They have no faith, no welcome of JEsus and because of fear they turn him away.
So Jesus gets into the boat to go. Let’s look more closely at verse 38.
38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
- It would have been easier for the man to go. What did he have there? A family that disowned him? A community that had shunned him? He’s got no home, no career options, no references. It makes sense that the man wants to go with Jesus - he’s got nothing keeping him there so he signs up to go with Jesus. This is one of the things I had to work through in discerning my call to ministry. Was I just trying to escape my house, my background, not get a “real” job? We have to be really careful that our motive for following Jesus is not escapism.
- Jesus sends him as a missionary back to his people. Sometimes, when we give our lives to Jesus, Jesus says stay right where you are and tell of what God has done to you to your family and friends right there. We think missionaries have to go, but sometimes missionaries stay. This man could have been bitter that Jesus rejected his request to travel with him over the sea, yet in obedience to Jesus’ words, he goes back to his people, proclaiming to the whole city what Jesus had done for him. Did you get that? Jesus. Jesus told him to tell everyone what God had done for him and he says ok, here’s what Jesus did for me. This guy both knew Jesus and obeyed Jesus. Here’s what blows me away about this story. Jesus’ whole plan was to get this one guy healed saved, and commissioned for ministry, to send him back to his people. Jesus had no intention of lingering long on the far side of the sea. This is the shortest short-term missions trip ever, maybe a few hours. Jesus knew his mission, and he knew how to send people to their mission. Let me ask in closing, what is your mission? To whom is Jesus sending you to speak of what He has done for you. Don’t wait for him to send you to a far off country, go home to your people and your city and proclaim the works of the Lord.