Sometimes on application forms they ask the question, “Who is your family doctor?” I have always had trouble with that question because we don’t really have a family doctor. Every time we move, which has been about 8 times in our married life, we have had to find a new doctor. Each time we do, it involves a process of trying to find out if we feel comfortable with this doctor and if we can trust them. We look for a doctor that listens to us and who, we feel, does a good job looking after us. We look for a doctor we can trust.
This process of learning to know a person so we can trust them is not unusual. When we moved here, a total stranger to all of you, I suspect you may have gone through the same process. This guy is supposed to be our pastor. You may have asked, “How will he do?” “Will he be trustworthy in his teaching?” “Will he be caring?” Some of you are likely still going through that process and that is OK.
This is the kind of thing that happened to Jesus all of his ministry life. He made some powerful claims and people were constantly asking these kind of questions. In Luke 8:25, even the disciples asked, “Who is this?” They wanted to know if his claims could be held up in life. They wanted to know how much they could trust Him. They wanted to know to what extent they could give their lives to him.
The same continues to be true for us. We also want to know who Jesus is. We want to know if we can trust Him with our lives. We want to know to what extent we can give our lives to Him.
This morning, we will examine a series of miracle stories that reveal Jesus to us and give us the opportunity to respond to Him in faith. In Luke 8:22-56, there are four miracle stories. These four stories are clearly connected. The story begins with a trip across the Sea of Galilee to Gentile territory, it continues as Jesus returns from that territory and the people are expecting his return. As soon as he gets back, he goes on a little journey to the home of Jairus, the synagogue leader and performs another miracle on the way. The obvious geographical, theme and time connections between the four stories, means that we need to read them together and learn from what they are saying.
The stories help us come to know Jesus and teach us how we can grow in confidence and trust in Him.
I. Who Is This?
The main question of this section of four miracle stories is “Who is Jesus?” The question is asked by the disciples in Luke 8:25 and is never far from the surface in all of the stories. Each story contributes answers to this question.
As we read this, our questions are also answered. We are introduced to Jesus. Not who Jesus was, but who Jesus is. As we examine this, we need to ask, “do I know Jesus like this?”
A. Jesus Has Power Over All
One of the truths clearly presented by the juxtaposition of these stories is that Jesus has power over all. It is interesting to note that each story reveals Jesus’ power over a different area. The first story shows his power over nature, the second over demons, the third over illness and the fourth over death. This juxtaposition should not be missed, it is intentional.
1. Calming The Sea 8:22-25
Jesus left Jewish territory with his disciples in a boat to cross over the Sea of Galilee to Gentile territory. As they were sailing, Jesus had a little nap in the back of the boat, but while he slept, a terrible storm came upon them and they were suddenly overwhelmed by the power of the wind and the waves. These sailors were not unaccustomed to this body of water and knew that the surrounding landscape made storms a frequent possibility. Suddenly, they found themselves in the midst of a potentially devastating squall.
In panic, the disciples woke Jesus up and displayed their fear before Him. Jesus answered their fears and rebuking the waves and the wind, caused the elements to become calm. It is at this point that the disciples wondered, “Who is this?” They went on to observe that even the winds and the water obey him.” In this act, Jesus demonstrated that He has power over nature.
2. Casting Out The Demon 8:26-39
As they landed on the other side, a man who was demon possessed approached them. It soon became evident that this man was possessed by not one, but many demons. There are a lot of questions attached to this passage, many of which we cannot answer. Why did Jesus permit the demons to go into the pigs? What happened to the demons after the pigs went crashing into the lake? I can’t answer those questions, but I do know that the evidence of Jesus’ power is once again displayed before us. He is presented to have power over the forces of evil in the world.
When the people of the surrounding region discovered what had happened, they were afraid. It does not say that they were angry with Jesus for destroying all those pigs. Rather, they were afraid at the powerful display of Jesus divinity. As a result, they asked Jesus to leave. It seems that he was not even there one day. He came, healed the man and left. I suspect that this was a divine appointment in which we learn that Jesus has power over demons.
3. Healing Illness 8:42-48
Upon returning to Jewish territory, Jesus was immediately met by a crowd of people who had been waiting for him. Among the crowd was a man called Jairus whose daughter, was dying. Jesus left immediately to go with him to help his daughter.
On the way, while the crowds were pressing in on him, there was a woman who had a problem with a hemorrhage which had plagued her for 12 years. She thought that by just touching Jesus, she could be healed. Because she was bleeding, she was in a constant state of uncleanness and didn’t want to let people know that she was in public, unclean. It was a matter of honor and consideration to not draw attention to herself. Jesus, however, noticed that power had gone out from himself when she touched him and soon it became evident to everyone that Jesus had performed another miracle - this time, a miracle of healing. By this miracle, Jesus demonstrated his power over our physical bodies. He knows us and knows our illnesses and can heal our diseases.
4. Raising The Dead 8:40-42, 49-56
By now the flow of the story is clear. Jesus has power over nature, demons and illness. But, the greatest challenges is still before Him and the depth of the challenge is immediately before us. As soon as he heals this woman, messengers come from the home of Jairus announcing that it is too late, that his daughter is dead. Once again, this comment is deliberate. Jesus could calm seas, cast out demons, even heal 12 year old medical problems, but could He raise a 12 year old girl from the dead?
When he arrived at the home of Jairus, in spite of the protests of the messengers, He informed the people that the child was not dead, only sleeping. They laughed at him because they knew perfectly well that she was dead - they did not believe that Jesus could raise the dead.
It is interesting to note the parallel between this story and that of the raising of Lazarus. There Jesus delayed going to see Lazarus and as a result he died. Here again, the delay of Jesus while he healed the woman means that he was too late and could not heal the child, the child had now died.
But, as we read on, we find that Jesus is not stopped by death. As we read on, we hear Him say, “My child, get up!” We read that “her spirit returned to her” which indicates that she was obviously dead. We read that Jesus raised her from the dead.
The extent of Jesus power is demonstrated. He has power not only over nature, demons, and illness, he has power over death and is able to raise those who have died, to life once again.
Is Jesus trustworthy? The demonstration of his power over all nature, demons, illness and death demonstrates that we can place our confidence in Him in every area of need in our lives.
B. Jesus Is God
A further note of Jesus’ identification is seen in another part of the miracle stories. After Jesus released the demon possessed man and was asked to leave by the people of the neighbourhood, the man who was formerly demon possessed asked to go with Jesus. In verse 39, there is a very interesting interchange. Jesus does not permit the man to go with him. Rather, he says to the man in verse 39, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” The verse concludes with the phrase, “So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.”
Isn’t that interesting? The phrases are parallel, but there is one difference. In the first phrase, he was told to go and tell “what God has done” in the second, he went and told “what Jesus had done.” Why is this in the Bible like this? It is in the Bible to tell us once again that Jesus is God, that even though he took the form of human flesh, he was, nevertheless fully God.
Do we sometimes forget the fact that Jesus is God? When Jesus was about to leave he comforted his disciples in John 14. Philip asked him, “show us the Father.” Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Once again, the question comes to us as we come face to face with the reality of Jesus’ identification. We are asked to put our trust in Jesus who is God. If we want to know God, we just have to look at Jesus. What was Jesus like? What were His values? How did he minister? When we see Jesus, we know what God is like.
C. Jesus Saves
The other part of the story that helps us meet Jesus is the use of the word “saved.” Now you don’t see that word, but it appears in three of the four stories. In verse 36, where people were telling how the demon-possessed man “had been cured” the word which is translated “cured” is the Greek word which is most often translated “saved.” The man had been saved from bondage to Satan.
In verse 48, Jesus says to the woman, “your faith has healed you.” Once again, the word which is here translated “healed” is the Greek word for “saved.”
The same thing happens in verse 50 in the story of Jairus’ daughter. Jesus tells Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” Once again the word “healed” is the same Greek word used in verse 36 and 48. It is most often translated saved. In the King James Version, this word is translated “save 93, and variants of heal or make whole 17 times.”
This is what Jesus does. He saves people from whatever is a problem to them. He saved the demon possessed man from that bondage. He saved the woman with the bleeding from her illness and he saved the girl from death. Can we trust Jesus as the one who saves in the fullest sense of that word?
The salvation work of Jesus is further seen in the way in which Jesus restored things in each story. The sea was in chaos, the demon possessed man was homeless, naked and violent. He lived in the chaos of a destructive world. The woman who was sick, lived with the debilitation of an incurable illness and perpetual uncleanness. The child had gone beyond life to the devastation of death at a young age.
To each of those situations of destruction, chaos and loss, Jesus brought life. After Jesus was finished with the storm at sea, we read that “all was calm.” When Jesus had cast out the demons we read in verse 35 that the man was “sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind.” When the woman touched Jesus, she immediately felt that the bleeding had stopped. The child who had died got up again and ate and lived.
That is what Jesus does. Whatever devastation, destruction and chaos this Satan run world throws at us, Jesus can change to peace, calmness and restoration. Do we trust Him as the one who saves?
II. Faith In Jesus
So we are presented with Jesus. We meet Him as the one who has power over nature, demons, illness and death. We come to know that He is God and that He saves us from the chaos in life. How do we respond to Jesus?
A. Responses To Jesus
There are a variety of responses mentioned in this passage. We note the response of the disciples who are filled with fear and amazement. We see that those who saw the demon possessed man released were so afraid that they did not want such power near them. We notice the response of the demon possessed man who after he was released wanted to follow Jesus, but instead became a witness to the power of Jesus. We notice the response of the people at Jairus house who laughed at Him when he told them that the girl was asleep. We see the response of the parents who were astonished.
These various responses are worthy of note because they help us think through how we respond to Jesus. How do we respond? Do we fear Jesus? Do we mock the truth of Jesus power? Do we want to be with Jesus? Do we rejoice to witness to what Jesus has done for us? Are we amazed at who Jesus is and what he has done?
Among these responses are responses of acceptance and joy. The response of the demon possessed man is probably the most powerful response of acceptance. Do we respond like that?
On the other hand, the response of the people in the Gentile region is one of rejection. It is interesting to note that it was a different rejection than the rejection of the Jews. The Jews rejected Him because they knew Him and didn’t want Him. The Gentiles rejected him because they were afraid of His awesome power. Nevertheless, each rejected Him. Do you reject Him for reasons of familiarity or fear?
We also see the response of need that seeks Him. It was unusual that a synagogue ruler should come to Jesus because they are often presented as most hostile to Jesus. They were among the priests and leaders of the people. Yet this man was desperate enough to know that he needed help from someone outside of himself. When we were in Columbus two weeks ago, we attended an African American church. With great enthusiasm, the preacher told us again and again, “When your are down to your nothing, God is up to something.” That is what happened to the synagogue ruler. He came to his nothing and was opened to God’s something in his life. A. W. Tozer said, “For each of us the time is surely coming when we shall have nothing but God. Health and wealth and friends and hiding places will all be swept away, and we shall have only God. To the man of pseudo faith that is a terrifying thought, but to real faith it is one of the most comforting thoughts the heart can entertain.” Do you respond to Jesus in faith looking for help in your need?
B. Faith In Life.
All of these responses are predicated on the primary response that is required as we come to know Jesus and that is the response of faith.
Faith is an important element in this story. We see it in the miracle of the storm calmed. When the disciples went screaming to Jesus in their desperation, Jesus calmed the storm and then asked, “Where is your faith?” They did not believe that they were safe in the arms of Jesus. Jesus was in the boat with them, but they doubted that He would take care of them! They did not believe that they were safe in his presence. This is an important lesson when the storms rage around us. We think that the only time we are safe is when things are calm. This creates a great problem for us even in reading these stories. In every case, healing happened. It is easy to trust when we see results and when things are happening that please us. Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith in the midst of the storm. He expected that they would trust Him even when the wind was blowing.
Oswald Chambers said, “It is a great thing to be a believer, but easy to misunderstand what the New Testament means by it. It is not that we believe Jesus Christ can do things, or that we believe in a plan of salvation. It is that we believe him; whatever happens we will hang on to the fact that he is true. If we say, "I am going to believe he will put things right," we shall lose our confidence when we see things go wrong.”
Faith is being able to trust Jesus no matter what is blowing around us. When we know that Jesus is the one who has power over nature, demons, illness and death, then we are asked to trust Him, even when the evidence is not happening, even when illness and death happen. Jesus has revealed who He is. Can we trust Him even when things don’t go as we desire?
Faith is absolutely essential if we want to grow in our relationship with God and it is absolutely essential if we want to receive from God. We see how faith is central in the story of the healing and the resurrection. After the woman received her healing, Jesus encouraged her in her faith in verse 48 when he said to her, “your faith has healed you.” To the distraught father who was just told that his daughter had died, Jesus assured him, in verse 50, “Don’t be afraid; just believe…”
This last request for faith was the most challenging. It may have been acceptable to trust Jesus to heal. The people had seen many healings. But the challenge to the father now was to trust that even death was no barrier to the power of Jesus. The question that this raises is, “how far will we trust Jesus?” Do we trust Him that He has power over nature? Can we grow as we know Him to trust that He has power over demons? Do we trust that He has power over illness? Can we grow to trust that He has power over life and death?
“Gladys Aylward, missionary to China more than fifty years ago, was forced to flee when the Japanese invaded Yangcheng. But she could not leave her work behind. With only one assistant, she led more than a hundred orphans over the mountains toward Free China.
In their book The Hidden Price of Greatness, Ray Besson and Ranelda Mack Hunsicker tell what happened: "During Gladys's harrowing journey out of war-torn Yangcheng ... she grappled with despair as never before. After passing a sleepless night, she faced the morning with no hope of reaching safety. A 13-year-old girl in the group reminded her of their much-loved story of Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.
"'But I am not Moses,' Gladys cried in desperation. 'Of course you aren't,' the girl said, 'but Jehovah is still God!'" When Gladys and the orphans made it through, they proved once again that no matter how inadequate we feel, God is still God, and we can trust in him.” Jonathan G. Yandell
How are you experiencing Jesus? Do you know Him in the ways described in these stories? How are you growing in your faith? Are you able to trust Him as you have come to know Him? God is always teaching us about Himself and in many ways, life is a lesson on growing faith. How has God led you? What is He teaching you about Himself, how are you coming to know Jesus?
D.L. Moody testifies, “I prayed for faith and thought that some day faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." I had up to this time closed my Bible and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since.”
Today, I want to invite you to open your eyes and see Jesus. Oswald Chambers said, “We blunder when we tell people they must believe certain things about Jesus Christ; a man cannot believe until he knows him, then belief is spontaneous and natural.”
I want to invite you to open your heart to Him, to grow in knowing Him and thus to come to trust Him.