For an introduction to this series, click here.
Feb. 27, 2007
The beginning of this chapter gives us unique insight into the life of Jesus. We are told of at least three women who supported Jesus financially: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, the wife of Herod's household manager, and Susanna. Jesus lived just like every other rabbi did: on the generosity of others.
Next we have the parable of the sower, which is the name Jesus gives it in Matthew's Gospel. The point of the parable is not so much the sower, but the different soils, which represent different responses to the Word of God.
In Jesus' explanation in private to the disciples, He made no bones about the fact that His parables were not intended to make spiritual things easier to understand. In fact, they did the exact opposite: "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that 'seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'" (8:10) Ephesians 2:8 (and other passages) tells us that faith is a gift of God. I don't pretend to understand how that works. I do know this: God promises to be found by those who search for Him with all their heart, and He also invites whoever wills so to come to Him. Some people hear about the concept of election and wonder whether they or someone else might not be able to come to Jesus for salvation. Don't worry about it. If you have the desire to come to Jesus, Jesus is waiting with open arms.
Next we have the story of the calming of the sea (or the lake, as Luke calls it). The disciples were scared to death, and meanwhile Jesus is asleep in the boat. I like to think that Jesus was more perturbed at being awakened from His nap than He was about the storm. Luke doesn't tell us the words Jesus used: he only tells us that He "rebuked the wind and the raging waves."
When they got to the other side, they met the maniac of Gadara. Jesus plays an ironic joke on the pig farmers a little way up the shore. They should have known better than to be raising hogs, but here they were doing it anyway. The people's reaction is sad but typical. They should have been overjoyed that Jesus had healed this man who had been a terror for years, but instead they were furious that He had ruined their illicit hog operation.
Last we have a story that involves two people with great faith: Jairus and the woman with an issue of blood. Jairus, apparently a well-to-do man in the community, falls at Jesus feet and asks Him to heal his daughter. The fact that he would do that, as Luke tells us there was a large crowd waiting for Jesus as He returned from across the Sea, tells us that he was desperate. Jesus goes walking toward Jairus' house, and all of a sudden Jesus stops. He asks a ridiculous question: "Who was it that touched me?" (8:45) Peter tells Him it is a stupid question, but then this woman comes out of the crowd. She had been healed, and all because she had touched Jesus' robe. Meanwhile, one of Jairus' servants comes out and tells him, "Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more." (8:49) What a heartless way to say it. Jesus simply turns to Jairus and says, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” (8:50, ESV)
The group proceeds to Jairus’ house. No doubt most of the people in the crowd were interested in what would happen when Jesus found the girl dead. When Jesus comes to the house, He only brings in Peter, James, John, Jairus and his wife. The crowd certainly did not have faith to believe Jesus could heal her. He was not about to let those faithless ingrates in on the miracle. Jesus tells the family not to tell what happened. Obviously it was going to be hard to hide the fact that this little girl who had been dead was alive, so I don't know how well they succeeded at that.