The Son of Man’s Galilean Ministry (4:14–9:50)
JESUS’ TRAVELING COMPANIONS (1-3)
As Jesus traveled through the cities of Judea, He proclaimed the good news in word and deed. Women traveled with Jesus, setting up and caring for the Jesus company. So transformational was the gospel that women who had been delivered from demons, along with those of high reputation, traveled with Jesus. It was an exceptional group of people in that they were so different.
JESUS' KEY PARABLE (4-15)
When crowds would swarm to Jesus in great number, He would eventually tell the parable of the sower to help each person in the crowd determine their heart's motive (4). Jesus was not trying to explain farming in this parable as much as seeking to explain the strange way the Kingdom of God was arriving. It was not appearing in the expected might, muscle, and earthly magnificence—it was more like garden seed, small to begin with, growing slowly, and having the ability to feed others more than conquer and dominate them.
Jesus told a parable about a farmer sowing seed on four different kinds of soil.
a) the seed was the word of the Kingdom (5,11)
b) the sower by implication was Jesus and those He sent (5)
c) the path represented soil where the word was not valued and treated as precious but just trampled over in the business of life and then stolen by the devil (5, 12)
d) rocky soil represented the heart insensitive to relationship, especially with God, so the seed had no chance to take root (6,13)
e) thorny soil represented the heart which was full of worry, cares, pleasures, and distractions choking out anything that grew from the seed (7,14)
f) good soil represented honest hearts who had a longing for Yahweh and could therefore hear the word and pattern their lives after the word, being patient enough to wait for the seed to grow up and bear fruit a hundredfold in their lives (8,15)
Jesus told these parables to keep the Kingdom secret to those who were not interested in seeking the true nature of the Kingdom but revealed to those interested in knowing and following Yahweh (Isaiah 6:9-10). When the bad soil hearts heard the parables, they could see spiritual things and hear spiritual insights from the parables but they could not really understand the true nature of the Kingdom.
The parable form Jesus used to present His parables made those of honest heart, those who had a heart for Yahweh, see and hear the true nature of the Kingdom message and their hearts would fill with faith.
Those not honest of heart could hear Jesus and imagine what they thought He was saying but never really hear the main point (9-10).
LESSONS ON SIGHT AND HEARING (16-18)
Because seeing and listening (contemplation) was fundamental to following Jesus, Jesus included a couple of metaphors regarding contemplation.
1) Once the lamp of the gospel had been lit, no one should seek to cover it up or block the light from shining within the whole house or the world. Jesus' point was that no one should take the light of the Gospel God had given and seek to hide it. The light of the Gospel would eventually reveal all secrets of resistance of the Gospel. To imagine the Gospel fragile because it was by nature more like a seed than an army would be a mistake. The Kingdom is not only like seed but also like light, making all darkness disappear (16-17).
2) The second metaphor Jesus used was that of a measuring stick, and Jesus warns His disciples to be careful of the measure they used for hearing. Hearing to the follower of Jesus was like walking to Abraham. Everywhere Abraham put his foot belonged to him; it is how he measured the possession to be given to his children by Yahweh. To the follower of Jesus, it is not where the foot lands but what the ear has heard. If we hear God speak, we also hear what we don't have—more is always given to what has already been given. If nothing is measured as given, then in the Kingdom nothing will be added to nothing.
Example: people who pray for revival, “Jesus, send more revival," will likely end up receiving nothing. If they measure the Holy Spirit already active as doing nothing, then no matter what the prayer, nothing is sure to follow. If they see the revival that is already present and pray for God to do more of the same, then there were like "the one who has," and to him or her "more will be given."
If one thinks according to circumstance and sees nothing given by God, then the little he or she has will be taken away. Being able to measure what Christ has already done was an essential measure to receive more (18).
Contemplating and realizing there are a couple of fish and a few loaves are essential growing God's seed in the heart.
THE GOSPEL AND FAMILY TIES (19-20)
Jesus then became even more radical when He predicted that true family in the future would be built more around those who would hear and do God's word than blood relationships. This was not Jesus encouraging dishonor or harshness toward family. Luke is pointing out that Jesus was all along seeking to demonstrate the supremacy of God's Kingdom over everything, even family relationships.
Jesus' family wanted to interrupt what Jesus was doing in obedience to His Father, but the crowd was frustrating their wishes. Jesus made it plain that if they wanted to be true family, they would need to fall in love with Yahweh and His voice the way He had.
JESUS AND THE STORM (22-25)
All through this Gospel, Luke is seeking to demonstrate three points.
a) Jesus has been given authority over everything.
b) Jesus' Kingdom works much differently than the world and the world's kingdoms.
c) Jesus was faithful to the mission He had been given, so the poor were getting the good news, people imprisoned were being liberated, people headed nowhere were receiving new vision for their lives, and those who were being oppressed by forces and powers beyond their control were being liberated.
In these verses, Jesus demonstrates His authority over nature. Jesus had given the disciples the mission of crossing the sea. He had given them ample illustrations of the importance of hearing and obeying His word.
They set out to cross the sea while Jesus took a nap (22-23). The steep mountains surrounding the Sea of Galilee can create a draft and stir up a wind quickly. The experienced fishermen would have been aware of the sudden storms and changing of breezes into winds. The wind was raging with such force that the disciples felt themselves to be in mortal danger as the boat was filling with water (23). They woke Jesus up and He immediately rebuked the storm and restored calm (24). Jesus then asked where their faith in His word had lapsed to.
In Jesus’ mind, fear was unnecessary, for His word was going to get them to the other side. The disciples, on the other hand, were left speechless and began to wonder Who Jesus really was. It was as though He was more than just a mere Messiah, for only Yahweh had power to control the sea (Psalm 89:8-9). Jesus was going to want them someday to talk to the sea with His word when it interrupted His will.
HEALING THE DEMONIAC (26-39)
Jesus landed on the eastern side of the lake to the north which was Gentile country. Maybe Jesus was wanting a break from the Jews and Herod Antipas. Instead, on the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus encountered a naked man who made his home in a cemetery and who had to be shackled when among people, yet even those shackles he would customarily break and escape to the wilderness then return to the city (28).
When Jesus arrived, He sought to cast the unclean spirit from the man, but the man began shouting a litany of religious jargons at Him (26-29).
Seeing the unclean spirit resisted, Jesus demanded the spirit to leave; Jesus asked the spirit its name. The spirit answered Legion (a Roman Legion was 5,000 soldiers) and revealed there were many evil forces destroying the man (30).
The unclean spirit then made an unusual request, to not be thrown in the abyss but to be given permission to enter a herd of pigs. Jesus granted permission and the evil spirits left the man for the pigs (31-32). What happened next was odd—the pigs became mad and ran down a hill into the sea to their drowning (33).
The pig farmers went to the city to tattle on Jesus (34). The city folks rushed to the cemetery were Jesus' disciples had moored their boat and found the man with demons clothed and in his right mind, and instead of rejoicing they became afraid (35-36).
We don't know if the great fear in them was due to God's demonstration of power through Jesus or if the city was fearful of what Jesus might do to their economy if He remained. Whichever it was, they asked Jesus to get back in His boat and leave. Jesus fulfilled their wishes and returned to the boat about as quickly as He had arrived (37). The man Jesus had healed begged Jesus to allow him to come aboard, but Jesus, instead of calling the man to follow Him personally, told him to return to his Gentile city and proclaim how much God had done for him.
Jesus had told others to follow Him to be with Him; Jesus told the man with many demons to go home and bear witness to what God had done. The man did just that, making sure the whole city knew how much Jesus had actually done (39).
Luke's point of the story is two-fold: Jesus has authority over nature. Those who followed Jesus personally were to fish for men and those who followed Him by returning home were fishers of men. Following Jesus always has the same result.
AN ILL WOMAN AND A DEAD DAUGHTER HEALED (40-56)
Luke is enamored with Jesus' power and does not cease to list circumstance after circumstance where a different nuance of His power was expressed.
Jesus returned to the other side of the lake where people were hoping and waiting His return.
Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, met Jesus when He arrived and begged Jesus to heal his twelve-year-old daughter (40-42). Jesus took off for Jairus' home with the crowd in tow. Luke then tells a story within a story about a woman who had a female bleeding disease for some twelve years and had become penniless trying to find a remedy (43). With the crowd so massive around Jesus, she came up behind Him and touched the very fringe of the bottom of His outer garment and was immediately healed. Jesus felt the power leave His body but could not discern who had touched Him. Everyone around Jesus was denying they had touched Him as if someone had done something wrong, while Peter sought to settle Jesus down explaining the impossibility of discovering the toucher (45-46). Jesus continued to insist power had gone out and someone had touched Him. A woman trying to hide herself in the crowd finally fessed up, falling at Jesus' feet trembling and fearing she was going to lose her healing. She then explained how she had been sick and how she had been healed as soon as she had touched Jesus' garment. Jesus pointed to her faith in Him as being behind her act of touching, and thus it was her faith in Jesus which had become her source of grace for releasing Jesus' healing power (47-48).
Luke was revealing Jesus as having authority to release power through a simple touch and the authority to release power when faith was expressed.
While Jesus was speaking to the woman who had been healed, He discovered Jairus' daughter had passed away. His delay had proved fatal. Jesus responded to the news with a word of faith, “Don't let fear rule your heart; believe my word that she will get well" (49-50).
Once at the home of Jairus, Jesus took the parents, along with the three fishing partners, into the room of the girl. The girl had been born about the same time as the woman who Jesus healed had started bleeding. The two miracles were linked, for Jesus wanted the parents and the disciples to know that if touching His garment had healing power, how much more His touch and word?
Jesus told the people outside that the girl was just sleeping, and they laughed. Undeterred, Jesus took the child by the hand and commanded her to arise. At the word of Jesus, her spirit returned, and she got up and was hungry (51-55). Jesus did not want the parents or the disciples to tell what had happened in the room but to just let them assume she was sick and just sleeping. Oddly, for the parents or disciples to tell about the resurrection, in that place and at that time, would somehow jeopardize Jesus' safety before He had completed all God had wanted Him to do. Later, when Jesus healed Lazarus, the conspiracy for His execution would be born (56).