October 20, 2019
Conversations with Jesus – Luke 8.2
I want you to think about your favorite television show or movie series-even your favorite book series-and what makes it your favorite? Why do you keep watching it-or eagerly look forward to the next episode or next sequel? Maybe the last one left off with a great cliffhanger and you can’t wait to find out what happens next. But probably the biggest reason for why you love a certain show or series is because of the characters that you identity with-you can’t wait to find out what happens next to the characters you love. Good writing is driven by good character development. How many reviews have you read where it talks about the characters being flat and 2-D? But good, rich characters create a good, rich story. So undoubtedly your favorite show has some of your favorite characters. Isn’t that why we all love Star Wars! Look at that vast array of characters-maybe you identity with Luke’s heroics, maybe you identity with Han Solo’s wit or Princess Leia’s bravery-or Chewbacca’s hairiness! Then there’s the Wizard of Oz characters-which is why it’s a classic-the ability to identify with the Lion who needs more courage or the Tinman who needs a heart or the Scarecrow who needs a brain. Obviously the Avengers have amazing characters to identify with-again maybe you identity with the sarcasm and humor of Iron Man or the noble patriotism of Captain America or maybe you identify with the strength of Thor or the temper of Hulk. And there’s Toy Story-talk about a series with a spectrum of characters. Maybe you identify with the level-headed Woody or the fearless Buzz Lightyear or the scared T-rex or the teamwork of the Aliens-and now there’s some new guy Forky. I haven’t seen the latest film-but my kids love it so I need to!
But I want you to think about a character that you really identify with-and if it’s a character that’s been in several films-or especially a character from a book series where you’ve read lots and lots of pages about that character-you’re connected. You care about that character deeply-recognizing things from your own life that character has gone through, ways that character has dealt with similar challenges or difficulties that you’re experiencing. It might not be fighting aliens as a superhero or living in a world of talking toys-but the need for bravery and courage, the call for strength and quick thinking are universal human traits-and it’s why we love stories. To identify with a character going through something you’re going through. Will I be as brave or heroic? How will I deal with this situation in my life like they did in the story? So as we continue our series Conversations with Jesus we’re going to encounter a fascinating cast of characters in Luke 8 where each one of us can identify with someone. Now certainly we’ll learn something from each character-but maybe you’ll find one or two of them really resonates with you and speaks to right where you’re at in life.
So open your Bibles to Luke 8 this morning-and we’re going to pick up right on the heels of where we left off last week. If you were here we ended our time hearing Jesus make that incredible statement in v. 21. There’s 2 components to that statement-hearing and doing. And I don’t know about you-but often the hearing part is easy-anybody can hear what’s being said-our ears can receive the input. It’s the doing that’s the hard part. It’s the follow-through and application that’s most difficult. Think about being in school or college-you can hear what your teacher is saying-but do you have the ability to understand and interact with the material and apply what you’ve learned on an exam? I can still remember a college professor I had for intermediate differential equations. He would turn his back to us and write on the chalk board and lecture for 50 minutes straight-and then turn around at the end of class and ask-Any questions? All of it! We heard what he was saying-but had no ability to do it on an exam. Jesus is saying that truly hearing what He has to say always results in doing. Jesus isn’t interested in us hearing Him simply to broaden and increase our spiritual knowledge. He didn’t pass out biblical or theological exams-and the people with the best scores got a A+ for being His best followers. Not at all. Jesus is interested in speaking so that His followers-you and me-and all who are a part of His family-will hear His words and take that step of faith to live them out-v. 21. And that’s exactly what this cast of characters in the next half of the chapter are going to do.
Look at v. 22. At a basic level the disciples are hearing and doing what Jesus said to do. He told them to go somewhere with Him-so they obeyed and followed. And in this case it’s something they’re very comfortable with-as several of them were trained and experienced fishermen-sailing across the Sea of Galilee was no big deal-something they did all the time. If this was you and me it might be like making our daily commute to work. It’s a series of roads, a journey you could almost do with your eyes closed-nothing to worry about. Jesus says let’s sail across the Sea- sounds like a good getaway for us as a group of disciples! So I don’t think they were all that bothered by what Jesus did next-v. 23a. Jesus has had a long day of ministry, He’s been serving and teaching and healing the people-He’s tired-time to kick back, unwind and take a nap on this evening boat ride. So everybody’s relaxing, they’re chilling, enjoying some peace and quiet with one another-when v. 23b. Out of the blue-a storm whipped up on the sea. And lest we think these guys were wimps on their little boat, scared of some thunder and lightning-these were grown men who were trained and experienced fishermen so when they were scared they had good reason to be scared. It’s like if you or I saw the funnel cloud of a tornado approaching our house-we’d know we’re done for-that’s the disciples. Look at the description from Mark 4:37-38 NIV. Their boat was ready to capsize and collapse-these guys were already soaked from the crashing waves, desperately trying to bail out water that kept filling right back up. I love this detail from Mark about the cushion-as if the disciples certainly didn’t forget that part when they retold this story to Mark years later-Jesus was sound asleep-on the cushion! We were petrified-thought we were goners-and He was having the nap of a lifetime curled up with His pillow! But that detail demonstrates the vast difference in how they’re experiencing this. The disciples are truly fearing that they’re going to die. In their professional opinion as men who made their living on the sea-this is it-game over! But Jesus is completely in control and therefore totally at rest. His sleeping didn’t indicate a lack of care-as the disciples suggested. Instead it revealed the peace and restfulness of His divine power. Back to Luke 8:24. Right back to how it was when they started off that night-all was calm, nothing to fret or worry about-v. 25. These guys are amazed at Jesus’ power. They’re still trying to figure out that He can instantly turn the chaos and storms we experience into a peace and calmness like only He can bring. So for this first set of characters to identify with-Pt1: Frightened Followers: Trust Me-even when the skies grow dark. They thought they were following Jesus on a simple boat ride across a smooth sea-and yet the winds whipped up, the skies grew dark, and the waves and water crashed in on all sides. And maybe that’s how you feel right now. Things have grown dark in your life, winds and waves are surging around you, you fear that you’re going to capsize and drown. But like these frightened followers hear the words of Jesus to trust Him. One writer I read this week wisely pointed out that it wasn’t the storm that disturbed Jesus, it was the unbelief of His disciples. Jesus wasn’t bothered by the wind and the waves, He was bothered that these guys didn’t trust Him. So what did He say-Where is your faith? Basically-Why wouldn’t you trust Me? Why don’t you realize I’m in control? What keeps you from relying on Me? And maybe that’s what you’re identifying with this morning. Where is your faith in the things you’re going through? Jesus didn’t promise it would be storm-free. He never said to the disciples-let’s go across to the other side of the lake-the weather forecast looks great-shouldn’t be a cloud in the sky. Instead He commanded them to go-and then proved to them, as He does to us, that He’s with us through whatever storms arise. Dark skies aren’t an excuse to abandon our trust-they’re all the more reason to trust Jesus. Isa 43:1-2 NIV
What a great promise-especially as they come face to face with a rather fearful individual. Look at the next character we meet-v. 26-27a-not good to get greeted by someone like that when you’re coming off the boat. The disciples are probably wondering-what sort of forbidden island have we arrived at? Maybe we shouldn’t have taken that boat ride! And listen to how the description continues-v. 27b. So here’s this possessed, naked, homeless man running around the cemetery-look at the end of v. 29b. When I read that I’m picturing this wild, hairy beast man breaking chains and howling at the moon as he runs around deserts and cemeteries! In my study bible-the note at the bottom of the page referencing this verse said-Demon possession took may forms. This man was deranged. No kidding! He was very deranged and out of his mind. So look at what Jesus does-v. 30-and a Roman legion was about 6,000 soldiers-so whether the guy had 6000 demons or not-we definitely know he had many. v. 31-that’s the underworld, the spiritual prison for demons that Jesus had the authority to send them to. They clearly knew that and understood Jesus’ identity. How did they address Jesus at the start-v. 28. So the demons inside this man know that while Jesus was fully man, He was also fully God and had all power and authority over the spiritual realm. Don’t cast us into the abyss! And Bible scholars aren’t certain if Jesus did send them there or not-what is certain is that there was an unfortunate herd of pigs nearby-v. 32-33. So that’s some bad bacon at the bottom of the sea! What a dramatic departure of these demons-because look at what happened to the man-v. 34-35. Who wouldn’t be!
But look at the 180 degree change in this man! No more breaking chains and running around cemeteries, he’s seated at Jesus’ feet. As calm and collected as the storm at sea was. This is what Jesus is doing-but not everyone gets it-v. 37-39a. That’s an interesting way for Jesus to answer his request. From our perspective, his request seems like an honorable one-Jesus, can I come with you? Why wouldn’t Jesus agree? Doesn’t He want to continue to teach this guy and help disciple him? Just a moment ago he was a crazy woflman! We think-Maybe this guy needs to stay close to you for a little while, Jesus. Maybe it’s wise for him to develop some maturity, prove to you that he is fully healed and in his right mind-not going to break more chains. Makes total sense to us for Jesus to keep him close-and yet Jesus had other plans for him. So Pt2:Deranged Dude: Obey Me-even when your plans are different. This guy is saying-how about I do this, Lord-and Jesus, is saying-No, I want you to do this instead. And maybe there was a level of disappointment in him, that having just been dramatically healed by Jesus, now he feels let down by Jesus. It says he begged Jesus to stay with him. And maybe you identify with that-not so much being deranged-but having begged Jesus about your plans that you really wanted and made sense to you-but now feel letdown by Jesus because He’s said-No, I have other things for you. He’s said I want to use you here-while you’re wanting to be used over there. Jesus has said serve me in this way, and you want to serve Him your way. I think this guy teaches us a lot about obedience-because look at his response-v. 39b-bummed out and frustrated? No-v. 39b. He does exactly what Jesus called him to do. Jesus wanted to use him to be a blessing to others-to go from wolf man to evangelist-and that’s what he does. The whole city is impacted by his testimony! And yet how often can our requests be like his-Lord, I want to do this-I’m begging you. And Jesus is saying-It’s not about what you want-it’s about you blessing others! It’s about you sharing your story of what I’ve done in your life so others can be healed too!
And that dramatic story of being healed really unfolds when we come to the next set of characters-v. 40-42. Talk about a need! Does it get any more crucial than that? Here’s a dad with a dying daughter. And it’s not just a bad diagnosis where the doctors have given her some time-there is no time-she’s dying now. The urgency is of the utmost. Did you catch how it’s phrased-falling at Jesus’ feet he implored him. Just like the previous guy was begging Jesus, now Jairus is imploring Jesus. When was the last time you implored someone? Use that this week-I implore you… But this is a term of desperation and earnestness. If you have the NIV it says he was pleading with Jesus-and for what? To come to his house right away-his daughter is on death’s door, at any moment she could be taking her final breath. This is the 11th hour-time is of the essence. She needs to be healed by the only one who can heal her-and that’s Jesus. If there’s one thing Jairus is saying to Jesus it’s-Please hurry! Don’t delay! So Jesus goes-it seems like he doesn’t waste anytime on small talk-the problem is that there’s a delay. And it’s not a delay of traffic congestion and rush hour-it’s a delay of people-v.42b-43a. And she’s our next character-but before we get to her I want us to feel the urgency of our next point-Pt3:Desperate Dad: Wait on Me-even when time is slipping away. Because if there’s one thing we want to control it’s time. Obviously we’ll trust Jesus to do the healing. We’ll trust Jesus to bring the restoration and the miracles like only He can-but we want Him to do it on our timetable, according to our schedules or our plans. Like this desperate dad, we’re saying-Jesus, I’m asking you and imploring you to do something amazing-answer my prayer request-you’re the only one who can-just do it now. Do it when I know it needs to be done-because if you delay it’ll be too late and all will be lost. Have you said something like that before-dictating your timetable to the Lord, telling Him that He has to respond now? But we do that because from our perspective we see time slipping away. We see things coming to the point of no return where all will be lost if immediate action isn’t taken. Have you found yourself fretting and worrying, even stressing out when it seems like God is delayed in responding? We all have at one time or another.
That how’s Jairus feels right now-go back to the conversation. Or from his perspective the unnecessary interruption-v. 43-44. All done, right? Got to love a quick miracle-very efficient Jesus-good job. Now let’s keep heading to my house and heal my daughter! But that’s not what happens-v. 45-46. Jesus is saying-Who was that? I want to speak with that person. And we’ll get to the conversation momentarily-but put yourself in Jairus’ shoes right now. What’s he doing during this exchange? Checking his watch, waiting for a text message or an update on his daughter, pacing back and forth-talking under his breath-C’mon lady-my daughter’s dying here. Can’t you see Jesus tomorrow? You’ve been suffering for 12 years. Why right now? Lord-hurry up! The passage doesn’t actually tell us that he’s responding this way-but I’d sure be responding that way if this was me. I’ll be honest, that’s how I’d respond with something a lot less important than what Jairus is dealing with-Lord, what are you doing? Things are not good-will you please answer me! You’ve got to do something now! And yet what is Jesus communicating by this delay-Pt3. I got this! Trust Me-but I want to speak with this woman right now. And once again-we’re reminded it’s not always about us-but about the needs of others.
So Jesus intentionally seeks out this woman’s needs-Who was it that touched me? Somebody did? This woman had truly done her best to escape notice. She wanted a covert, secretive mission to get what she wanted from Jesus and then leave without any further attention. And understandably so-as many Bible commentators have pointed out this woman’s affliction of constant bleeding wasn’t just physically dangerous-it also made her unclean according to the Law. The book of Leviticus says that wherever she sits and whatever she touches will become unclean. So this condition would have cut her off from many social relationships. She would have been shunned and avoided by those around her for fear that they would become unclean by touching her. It also prohibited her to go to the synagogue or temple. So this woman has had to live a lonely life of solitude-and that’s how she approaches Jesus-let me just touch Him and be healed and I’ll be on my way not bothering a soul. But Jesus doesn’t settle for that. Instead He asks for her identity. He wants her to come out of the shadows and into the light-stop hiding in the crowd and step out in the open. Certainly a scary thing for her! But that’s not because He’s wanting to embarrass her or be mean to her or shine the spotlight on her condition. Rather it’s to demonstrate His love and care for her-and make her cure publicly known so that she could be welcomed back into society. Jesus is being very intentional for good reason-v. 47-48. Now her cure isn’t hidden or known only to her. It’s no longer some secret, covert mission to get healed-but everyone has seen and heard what Jesus has done for her. So not only has Jesus restored her physically-but He’s restored her socially and relationally to those around her. So Pt4:Lonely Lady: Come to Me-even when it’s scary. Obviously this woman was scared-she was trembling as the text says-but Jesus wanted her to have courage, He wanted her to be brave.
Did He ask her to do something difficult and challenging? Absolutely! This is the last thing she wants to do in the world-make her situation known. It’s what she’s been hiding from all her life. But Jesus is saying-Come to Me and I’ll take what you’re hiding from and transform it into restoration and healing. No longer will you feel shame, no longer embarrassment, no longer a need to hide. Your past afflictions and pain are removed-your faith has made you well-go in peace. And it’s no different for you and me. Maybe you’re afraid to come to Jesus because of embarrassment or weakness. That coming to Jesus means admitting things you don’t want to admit, it means being honest with yourself and facing the struggles you’d rather avoid or ignore. But Jesus isn’t here to hold them over your head in public shame. He isn’t here to point the finger or remind you of how much you failed and why people should shun you and keep their distance. He’s here to bring healing and restoration. He’s here to receive you and create wholeness in your life-to take what’s missing and fill it up with His grace. And that shows the depth of His concern for the details of our lives. Think about it-Jesus could have easily kept on going because He had important things to do at Jairus’ house. Jairus was a prominent ruler in the synagogue-an important person in society-and he had a very important need with his daughter. This woman was relatively obscure and unknown. Nobody would have ever realized she touched Jesus’ cloak if He didn’t stop and say something. But Jesus intentionally sought her out and addressed her needs-and He’ll do the same with you. He wants us to Pt4-because that’s where true healing is found. There’s no healing in hiding and holding back-only in coming to Him.
Which is exactly what Jairus did-as we return back to his story-and yet look at what happens-v. 49. Can you imagine the crushing weight of that message? If Jairus was let down by Jesus before in taking so long-what’s it like when he hears this? This is exactly what he’s been trying to avoid. This is exactly why he chased Jesus down and told him to make a B-line to his house. But now what’s the point? Jesus got delayed, He dealt with someone else’s needs-and now it’s too late-his daughter is dead-all is lost. But what did Jesus say to him-Pt3. But now the time has literally slipped away-it’s gone-it’s past. Yet listen to Jesus’ words-v. 50. Oh no-it’s not too late. Time hasn’t slipped away. I’ve got this-don’t fear, just follow Me and believe! So v. 51-53. These people aren’t under any illusions that Jesus can do anything. This girl is dead and they know it-they think Jesus is the disillusioned one. Someone who is far too late to fix this. Good luck next time Jesus-but be more punctual-death waits for no one! To them Jesus’ arrival is an exercise in futility. But look at v. 54a-that transition is so key. They all thought this was over-the girl is dead-nothing more can be done-but Jesus isn’t finished! v. 54-56. That’s because we’ve seen how big the crowds are getting. In order to accomplish His purposes Jesus has to keep a low profile right now-but Pt5:Dead Daughter: Live through Me: even in the face of death. This girl can live because of Him. This is exactly what His words accomplished-Child-meaning dead child-arise-and she did. The uncompromising reality of death couldn’t stop what Jesus can do. And it’s the same for us. Because of Jesus death isn’t the end. Look at John 5:25. One day an hour is coming when physically dead believers will hear Jesus’ voice and be resurrected to eternal life. That’s to come-but right now that hour is here when the dead-meaning the spiritually dead, lost sinners-will hear Jesus’ voice and be born again to new life. That’s what this dead daughter’s story is revealing. It’s not just a happy reunion of father and daughter-but a glorious glimpse of what Jesus’ mission is all about-restoring dead sinners-like you and me-to new life. That as we believe in Jesus-just like Jairus did-death isn’t the end. That as we hear Jesus’ voice-just like the daughter did-we will be raised to new life; a life where all of our sins are forgiven, a life where Jesus gives us a new heart and restores us into a relationship with Him. That’s what we’re called to believe-just like Jairus-v. 49-50. Her life wasn’t over, her story wasn’t finished-and neither is yours when you believe in Jesus and hear His voice.
So as we’ve examined all 5 characters this morning-who do you identify with most? Is it the Frightened Followers, the Deranged Dude, the Desperate Dad, the Lonely Lady, or the Dead Daughter? Let me just say it begins with the last one-the Dead Daughter. Application #1-Permanent Reality: Jesus can be completely trusted for eternal life-do you believe in Him? That’s the starting place to all this. Nothing else matters unless you first surrender your heart and believe in Jesus to save you and give you eternal life. Have you done that? Like this formerly Dead Daughter have your ears heard Jesus so that your heart has sat up and responded in faith? And if you have Application #2-Momentary Trials: Jesus completely knows what you’re going through-but sometimes things have to first grow dark and even die. That’s not easy to say-but it’s been the ongoing thread weaving these 5 characters together. Have noticed that? We cannot miss it! The disciples thought they were going to die at sea, the deranged dude roamed about the tombs, the desperate dad said my daughter is dying, the lonely lady was dying on the inside, and the daughter was literally dead! Everything was seriously bleak and dark in these stories-and Jesus allowed them to grow even more bleak-and die-before He intervened. He could have stopped all of those things before they grew took dark-but He didn’t. And yet nothing ever truly spiraled out of control. Nothing in the lives of these characters was beyond repair or beyond healing. And facing death was a part of that-John 12:24. Death is necessary. Jesus knows that. His death was necessary to save us-but the death of our selves is necessary too. What needs to die in your life? What do you need to let go of that you’ve been holding onto far too tightly? What’s become your identity, your hope, or your dream that maybe shouldn’t be? What are you begging Him to do instead of letting Him work? What needs to be released to Jesus so that you can find life in Him? Because that’s where this finishes. Death and darkness are what each of these characters faced. Death and darkness is something we all face. It’s part of the road we all have to travel-and yet in Jesus death and darkness are not where the road ends. For the Frightened Followers it ended in calm winds and clear skies, for the Deranged Dude it was sitting before Jesus in His right mind, for the Lonely Lady it was healing and peace, for the Dead Daughter it was new life-and for the Desperate Dad it was a reunion with what he thought he had lost for good. But because of Jesus it was completely restored. It’s no different for you. Darkness and even death may be on the horizon, you may need to face some stormy weather and desperate times, maybe you’re facing it right now-but calmness and peace and life await you in Jesus as you trust in Him no matter how dark it might get in the moment.
Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with ever fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.