Luke 8:16-39


Faith – The Need to Listen

Luke 8:16-18  -  A Lamp under a Container

16No one lights a lamp and hides it in a container
or puts it under a couch,
but puts it on a lampstand
so that, as people come in, they can see its light.
17 There is nothing hidden that will not be made obvious
nor any secret that will not become known
and come to the light.

The mystery of God’s Kingdom is not a secret to be kept hidden but a source of inner wealth to be cared for and shared.

18 So be careful about what you hear,
‘Those who have things, things will be given to them;
those who have not, what they seemed to have will be taken from them’.”

 Luke’s emphasis on what you hear would seem to indicate that, unlike Mark, he clearly anticipated assent to what Jesus then added: 


Faith – The Basis of Community

Luke 8:19-21  -  True Kindred of Jesus

19 His mother and brothers came to up him
and were unable to meet him because of the crowd.
20 The message came to him,
“Your mother and brothers are standing outside
wanting to see you.” 
21 In reply he said to them,
“My mother and brothers are those
who listen to the word of God
and do it.”

Mark had located this incident before Jesus’ discourse on parables and had used it to illustrate a quite different point from Luke’s. Luke’s placement would seem to underline the importance of listening. As Jesus had clearly demanded: May anyone who has ears that can hear that, listen! Faith and practice consistent with it were the basis of life in the new community, and were more precious even than natural family connections.

Later piety would read into the incident an affirmation of his mother’s greatness. She was one who heard the word of God and did it. This interpretation would fit well with Luke’s comment in the Infancy Narrative that Mary, whatever about the brothers, treasured these things and pondered them in her heart, and gives concrete application to the comment put by Luke on the lips of Elizabeth at the Visitation, who spoke of Mary as: blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord. In Luke’s view, Mary was the one par excellence who heard the word of God and kept it. 


Faith – Overcoming the Impossible

At this stage of his Gospel Luke reverted to following closely the order adopted originally by Mark, even though some of the issues behind Mark’s narrative were no longer issues for Luke’s community of Gentile converts.

Luke 8:22-25  -  Jesus Calms a Storm

22 One day he and his disciples boarded a boat.
He said to them,
“Let us go over to the other shore of the lake”,
and they sailed off.
23 As the boat sailed off, he fell asleep.
A windstorm hit the lake.
The boat was swamped,
and they were in danger.
24 They came and woke him, saying,
“Master, master, we are perishing!”
He woke up
and rebuked the wind and the heaving seas.
They calmed down, and all was peaceful.
25 Then he said to them, “Where is your faith?”
They were filled with fear and wonder,
saying to each other, “Who is this
who gives orders to the winds and the water,
and they obey him?”

The other shore of the lake was Gentile territory. Whatever about the passage across, the experience of being Christian in the Roman Empire was decidedly stormy. The incident showed a Jesus unthreatened by natural physical forces. Mark’s narrative may have been deliberately theologised. Luke showed no hesitation in adopting it, especially in the light of his lived experience of the risen Christ alive in the Church. Obviously his own faith was that Jesus was present and in charge, whatever the problems, as the following incident would indicate clearly.

The term, rebuking the wind, may contain a reference to the general belief at the time that natural forces such as water and wind were controlled by spiritual agents, good or evil, angels or demons.

The story raised two points:


Faith – Liberation Accepted and Rejected

Luke 8:26-39  -  Jesus Heals a Demoniac at Gerasa

26 They landed in the region of the Gerasenes,
which is on the other side from Galilee.
27 As he disembarked, a townsman possessed by demons came up to him.
For a considerable time he had not worn any outer clothing,
and had lived not in a house but among the tombs.
28 When he saw Jesus, he shouted out,
threw himself at his feet,
and said in a loud voice,
“What have we in common, Jesus, Son of the Most High?
I beg you, do not torture me."
29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to go out of the man.
For many years it had controlled him.
He had been bound in chains
and kept securely with fetters.
He had broken the bonds
and been driven by the demon into deserted places.
30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
He answered, “Legion”,
since a number of demons had entered him. 
31 They were pleading with him not to send them into the abyss.
32 A large herd of pigs was grazing there the hills.
They pleaded that he allow them to go into them,
and he let them.
33 So they left the man and entered the pigs,
and the herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and drowned.
34 When the herdsmen saw what happened they fled
and spread the news in the town and the surrounding area.
35 People came to see what had happened,
and approached Jesus.
They found the man from whom the demons had exited,
clothed and sane,
sitting down at Jesus’ feet.
They were frightened.
36 Those who had seen what had happened
told them how the possessed man had been saved.
37 The whole crowd from the Gerasene region
asked him to leave them,
because a deep fear had taken hold of them.
He embarked on the boat and went back.
38 The man from whom the demons had gone
pleaded to be with him.
But he sent him away and said,
39 “Go back to your own home,
and spread the word
about the things that God has done for you.”
He went off telling the whole town what Jesus had done for him.

In the earlier account of Jesus’ encounter with the demonic in the synagogue on a Sabbath at Capernaum, the demonic power symbolised the power of the Jewish religious establishment supported by some members of the scribal class. Here the demonic power symbolised the power of the Roman militaristic/religious world:

Luke had identified the possessed man as a townsman, the kind of milieu where Luke’s Christian community lived. 

Next >> Luke 8:40-56