Luke 8


Reading Luke and Acts in 2020

Week 8  |  Luke 8

Luke 8 Reflections and Questions

By Rev. Dr. Jessica Terrell

There is quite a lot happening in Luke’s eighth chapter. Jesus is traveling around Galilee doing exactly what he claimed God had anointed him to do at the beginning of his ministry—healing the sick, releasing the captive, teaching and preaching the Good News of God’s favor to all people, and demonstrating his power and authority over all things natural and even supernatural. In this chapter Jesus shows what it really means to have faith and how our faith in Him frees, saves, heals, unites, and challenges us.

With such a long chapter this week, let's read and ponder a part of the chapter each day.

Wednesday—Read Luke 8: 1-3
When we think of Jesus’ followers, we often only think of the twelve men. However, throughout the gospels we are told Jesus had many followers, including women. Chapter 8 begins introducing a few new names and faces among Jesus’s closest friends. Luke reminds us that the twelve and some female disciples are moving around traveling with Jesus from place to place doing ministry. These female disciples followed Jesus and supported him and his ministry with their presence as well as with their finances.

Given the anonymity and social invisibility of women in the ancient world it is very important to note that Luke makes it a point to name them. Mary Magdalene is mentioned here and later has a prominent role in the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection. Susanna appears to be a woman of means as well as Joanna, the wife of Chuza, King Herod’s chief financial steward. Luke also mentions that Jesus healed these women from evil spirits and other maladies.

Notice that the word “prostitute” is not used here as it relates to Mary Magdalene or any of the women. That is popular legend. In the ancient world, evil spirits were a way to talk about the physical or mental pain the people were experiencing not their ethics. In Luke’s eyes these women had a deep faith. They were so grateful for what Jesus had done for them that they decided not only to give generously to his ministry but also to forsake the comforts and protection of their homes and social circles to travel with him from town to town. It is also important for us to note that while the world might have excluded women from participating and leading, Jesus never did. Women were and are very much a part of his ministry.

Things to Ponder and Practice:
  1. How often do I let the world standards determine who I think can truly be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Who am I excluding?
  2. Am I currently someone who is supporting the ministry of Jesus from afar? How I am supporting him? Am I supporting him in a way that is easy or challenging?
  3. How has Jesus healed me? Do my life and ministry currently reflect my gratefulness to him?
Thursday—Read Luke 8: 4-18
Jesus tells the crowds drawing near to him a parable about a sower. In this story, the sower liberally scatters the seed over every type of ground. Some seeds couldn’t get through the hardened soil. Others weren’t given enough soil to find sustainable nourishment. Others were thought to be scattered in good earth, but the weeds and thorns hadn’t been removed during the tilling, and eventually, those things took over. Finally, the seed scattered and nurtured in a consistently prepared and maintained field yielded an incredible harvest.

God liberally gives God’s word to all people. Many will listen to God’s word and claim to have faith. But only those who obey it, changing their hearts and habits to nurture and practice it are truly faithful. In this parable, Luke describes faith as more than one moment of decision in our life. Faith is a consistent decision to be true to God’s word, to patiently cultivate our lives out of it, and to not let any distractions displace it, so that it matures and bears fruit. Jesus says many will listen to God’s word. Few will hear and obey.

Things to Ponder and Practice:
  1.  Think about your favorite passage of scripture. Read it out loud to yourself several times. Listen attentively to God’s word. Hear its meaning. Write out how it engages you. Figure out how you can obey and practice it every day for the next week. What would it look like for you to intentionally practice it for a month? A year?
  2. What in the teachings of Jesus are you having the most trouble obeying? How can you rearrange your attitude, habits, heart, head, and tendencies in order to follow Jesus’s teachings?
  3. Think of someone you know who you really think practices the teachings of Jesus. Ask them how they do this.
Friday—Read Luke 19-21
In this passage, Jesus’s family members are looking for him but it’s hard to find him because of the crowds. Other gospel writers describe how Jesus’s family members did not always agree with him and he often found deep kinship with others who weren’t related to him by bloodlines. Many of us can say the same thing. I have members in my family who don’t believe that women should be ministers. I love them despite our disagreements. However, I have learned over the years that some of my deepest relationships in life are not always based on bloodlines. Instead, many of my deepest relationships are because I share a common goal in life with them or because our hearts break or bend towards the same things.

According to Jesus, there is something that makes all people family with him, and that is that we seek to make the reign of God, the kingdom of God a reality. The color of our skin, our gender, our status in society, our educational backgrounds, our family names, do not make us family to God. What makes us kin with Jesus is when we, like him, hear God’s word and do it.

Things to Ponder and Practice:
  1. Think about those you are closest to in your life. Why is that? What do you hold in common with them? Why is that important to you and them?
  2. How are you making the kingdom of God a reality where you are?
Saturday—Read Luke 8: 22-25
After teaching and healing, Jesus and his followers need rest. They decide to cross the lake and during the boat ride over Jesus falls asleep. The Sea of Galilee is often stormy, and the storms can come quite swiftly and with little warning. The storm in Luke 8 was just like that—a sudden squall. And everyone on the boat felt they were in danger. They cry for Jesus to get up and do something. Jesus gets up and rebukes the storm. Then he questions the faith of his disciples.

Our faith in Jesus Christ should be deep enough to remember how powerful our Savior really is, to trust in his power, and to not fade away from trusting him when we find ourselves in tough situations and our fears take over.

Things to Ponder and Practice:
  1. Take some time today and write down who you know Jesus to be and how you have experienced him. It is always a good practice for us to remember who we have experienced Jesus to be in our lives.
  2. Write down your fears. Which ones do you often react to? What would a more faithful response be?
Sunday—Read Luke 8: 26-39
The boat eventually docks on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. In this region there are many Gentile towns and villages. Here Jesus encounters a man who is living outside the bounds of his community, both literally and metaphorically. They have tried to shackle him and control him over the years. This man is suffering from many demons, as Luke puts it. He is living naked in the local cemetery.  The demons confront Jesus and recognize they are in the presence of one whose power can defeat them—whose power can heal and restore anyone.

Jesus asks their name. The demons reply that their name is “Legion,” for they are many. This is interesting for a few reasons. First, a legion was a Roman regiment of 6,000 soldiers. Roman troops had been known to occupy this region and had done much to terrorize and subdue many of these towns and villages. It could be that this man was suffering from all the atrocities he had seen committed by the occupying forces. Whatever had driven him mad, his community had not done much to help him. They had only increased his sense of bondage. Jesus sent the demons from the man’s body into a herd of swine who then threw themselves in the sea.

Having been healed and restored to his right mind, the man sits at Jesus’s feet and listens to his teachings. Meanwhile, the swine herders have run to the village and told others about this man who had defeated demons and healed the local wild man. The villagers who come out to see if the story is true ask Jesus to leave. The healed man asks to travel with Jesus, but Jesus tells him to remain where he is, to reconnect with his community, and to share with them the story of what God had done for him.

Things to Ponder and Practice:
  1. Where is the “other side of lake” in your community? Where is it that people are held in bondage to something or to an unjust system? Where in your community do people feel isolated? Why? Chances are you know where it is. What keeps you away from these places and helping persons in your community?
  2. Jesus clearly shows the disciples in this story that they are to go to places like this and to people others do not like to help. You cannot truly follow Jesus unless you are willing to go to the kind of places Jesus went and help the kind of people Jesus helped. How is your church following Jesus to these places and people? How are you offering help? Is your help what they need or what you think they need? Does the help you offer lead to their wholeness? Or do your attempts to help harm them in some way?
  3. Jesus regularly disturbs the status quo in our communities and within ourselves. What is Jesus trying to disturb and correct in your life and in your community’s life? Are you presently helping him with that effort, or do you ask him to leave it all alone?
  4. Do you value yourself and your pigs (possessions and status) more than you do those hurting and cut-off from your community?
  5. How are you sharing your own story as a church and as a Christian of how Jesus has saved, restored, and healed you within your community?
Monday—Read Luke 8: 40-56
In this passage there are two stories of healing. The first is the healing of the young daughter of Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. The second is the healing of woman who has bled for 12 years. Both Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman seek out and ask Jesus for help because they believe that he is the one who can truly heal and restore life to them. What is interesting in this passage is that in both stories, their faith is not a result of their miraculous healings. It is the source of their healing.  They know they need him.
Their faith and healings sit in contrast to those of the growing crowds of people around Jesus. The crowd has come to be spectators. They only want to listen to Jesus, the wandering teacher and healer. For Jesus there is a big difference between being present and having faith. Those who truly follow Christ are those who know their need for Jesus and then act upon their faith in him to be healed or to heal others.

Things to Ponder and Practice:
  1. Would you say at this time that you are more of a spectator or Jesus or a follower?
  2. Write down why you need Jesus to heal you. Pray and ask him to help you with this.
Tuesday—Reread Luke 8
Remember this chapter is all about living out what we claim to believe about Jesus Christ. To say we follow him, but then to live as if nothing has changed means that we do not really have faith. In this chapter, Jesus is showing others who he has claimed to be.

Things to Ponder and Practice:
  1. Who do you claim to be? Does your life reflect it? If not, how can you be different and faithful beginning today?
  2. Write down some practices you will engage in to grow your faith and to demonstrate with your life that you truly follow Jesus.
Rev. Dr. Jessica Terrell is Superintendent of the Rome-Carrollton District.

Download the reading schedule.

Invite others to subscribe to the weekly reading prompts and reflections: