Let's turn now in our Bibles to Luke's gospel, chapter 7. At this point in Luke's gospel he is going to give us series of events, miracles that transpired in the life of Jesus.
When he ended these sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loves our nation, and he has build us a synagogue (7:1-5).
The Roman centurions were special men. They are mentioned several times in the Scriptures, and always in a favorable light. They were always, it seems, outstanding men. We remember the Roman centurion Cornelius in Caesarea. It was while he was in prayer that the Lord spoke to him, and commanded that he should send his servants to Joppa in order to get Peter to come down and teach them the way of the Lord more completely. And so it was in the Roman centurion's house in Caesarea that the gospel was first preached to the Gentiles, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon his house, and those that were with him. As God began His work among the Gentiles, actually in the house of a Roman centurion. So they are mentioned several times in the Scriptures, always in a kind and favorable light.
This centurion in Capernaum was declared to be a worthy person by the Jewish leaders, who came to Jesus on his behalf. They said that he was worthy for whom He should do this. This is interesting to me, because the Jewish people, even to the present day, and I am certain that it doesn't have its roots in the New Testament, but to the present day they have awards that they give to worthy people. And it is a phrase that they yet use today. In fact, I've been awarded a worthy person by the Jewish community, whatever that might mean. And I haven't found out yet, but I don't know that I fully want to. But I think it's good, because they were smiling when they awarded me. But it's a title that they still give today for a person who has, and I suppose it is a person outside of the Jewish faith, who has shown kindness and consideration to the Jews would be my estimation of this title. And such was the case with the Roman centurion. He has build a synagogue for them, and he loved their nation. And so having this as his credential, the Jewish leaders came and besought Jesus to do the favor for him by healing his servant.
It was unusual for a master to have a close relationship with his servant. The servants in the Roman Empire really had no rights whatsoever. And there was a Roman writer who said that every year a man should take stock of his possessions, and should hold on to that which is still producing and beneficial, and should get rid of that which was no longer productive. And included in that getting rid of that which was no longer productive was a slave who was no longer capable of putting out a day’s work. And so when he got to that place, he would just be put out, and left to die. For he had no other recourse. The slave was so much a part of, just a possession of his master, that in the Roman Empire a master could put his slave to death and not face any charges for it. After all, you're just destroying your own property. So for him to have this attitude towards a slave was unusual in itself. And it does show that he is one of those men above the ordinary. He loved this slave very much, and was concerned because he was almost dead.
Then Jesus went with them. And when he was not far from the house, then centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, do not trouble yourself; for I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof: Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed (7:6-7).
Now the commendation that the Jewish leaders had given to Jesus is, this man is worthy. As he answers or responds when he finds out that Jesus is getting close to his house, sending other friends, he said, "I am not worthy that You should come under my roof." He used a different word for worthy. But then he did say, using the same word for worthy, "neither did I think myself worthy to come to Thee."
In that culture it was unlawful for a Jew to enter the home of a Gentile. He knew for Jesus to come into his house would be putting a strain upon Jesus. When Peter entered the house of Cornelius, he apologized for doing so. He had taken some Jewish friends with him from Joppa. And he apologized for doing so. He said, "You know it isn't lawful for me to assemble with you fellows, to come to this house, but the Lord told me not to ask any questions, so I am here, what do you want?" But he was apologizing for entering into the house of a Gentile, because that was forbidden to the Jew.
So he is saying to Jesus, "I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. I didn't even feel I was worthy to come to You."
It is interesting when we remember when the woman from the area of Sidon came to Jesus concerning her daughter, who she said was vexed with a devil, and Jesus didn't answer. The disciples said, "Lord, do something for her, she is bugging us; she is driving us crazy." And Jesus said, "It isn't right to give the children's bread to the dogs." Now, Jesus was declaring that these benefits that He was bringing were for the Jews. This centurion did not feel worthy to come to Jesus and ask that Jesus would even come. And was sort of embarrassed that Jesus was coming. But then he made a remarkable statement. He said, "Just say the word. You don't have to come; I am not worthy that you should come. Just say the word and my servant will be healed. For I understand authority.”
For I also [recognizing that Jesus had authority, I also] am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers (7:8),
“I am a man who is under authority, and I have under me soldiers. I understand what authority is about. I submit to an authority, but I also have authority. And I understand how authority works. I also,” recognizing now that Jesus had this authority, “I also am a man under authority, having under me men, or men set under authority, having under me men.”
And I can say unto one, Go, and he goes; and to another I say, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he will do it. When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and he turned about to the people that were following him, and he said unto them, I say unto you, I have not found so great a faith, no, not in Israel (7:8-9).
Among the Jews, to whom He came, He did not see as much faith as this centurion.
So they that were sent, when they got home, found the servant that had been so sick, [nearly dead] was alive and well. So it came to pass the day after (7:10-11),
Now this is at Capernaum.
he went into a city called Nain (7:11);
Nain is about twenty-five miles from Capernaum.
and many of his disciples went with him, and a lot of people. Now when he came near to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man being carried out, and he was the only son of a mother, who was a widow: and many people of the city were with her. And when the [Jesus or the] Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not (7:11-13).
The picture could not be more pathetic. A woman who was a widow, following the procession, as her only son is being carried out for burial.
Now, in those days they did not have caskets. They usually carried them in baskets and put them in a sarcophagus. The word sarcophagus from the Latin means flesh eater. They have these lime stone sarcophaguses there in Israel. In fact, you can see them just in excavations where they dug for a highway. They uncover them, and they just leave them set there on the sides, and you can find them all over. There is something about the limestone that eats away the flesh very rapidly. In fact, within a month or so, and thus, the name sarcophagus, the flesh eater. And so they would usually place them in the sarcophagus until the flesh was eaten away, and then they would later bury the bones.
And so he was being carried, probably in a basket, to the place of burial, either a cave, or sarcophagus. And the mother with the crowd, the sad pathetic scene. And they didn't just weep, they wailed. And Jesus had compassion on her. In the Greek there is no word that is more expressive of feeling sympathy than the word used here, translated compassion. And it is used many times of Jesus. It's the strongest Greek word that expresses the deepest kind of feeling towards a person. Jesus had compassion on her, and said unto her, "Weep not."
And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And Jesus delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear upon all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God has visited his people (7:14-16).
This term, “God has visited His people,” if you go back to the first chapter at the birth of John the Baptist when God opened the mouth of Zacharias, his father, he began to prophesy, and some of the first words of that prophesy back there in chapter 1, where, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited His people." And so here the people are declaring, “God has visited His people.” The fulfillment of this prophesy of Zacharias.
And this story of him went forth throughout all of Judea (7:17),
Now Judea is unto the south sixty-seventy miles. So this story really spread concerning this young man who was dead, brought back to life by Jesus.
and throughout all of the regions there around about the Galilee region. And the disciples of John were telling John about all of these things. And John called him two of his disciples and he sent them to Jesus, saying, Are you the one that is to come? or should we look for another? And when the men were come unto him, they said, John the Baptist has sent us unto thee, saying, Are thou he that should come? or should we look for another? (7:17-20)
Now in John's gospel, he tells us that when John saw the Spirit of God descending upon Jesus, that he knew that He was the Messiah. For the Lord told him that upon whomever you see the Spirit descend, He is the one. And so John, in referring to Jesus, said to his own disciples, "Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world." And he pointed men to Jesus Christ.
Now John has been in the dungeon for a while, Herod's prisoner. He does not like confined quarters, for he is a man of the outdoors. He grew up in the wilderness. He was a man of the woods, sort of speak. And this confinement, no doubt, was very irritating to him. And would imagine that John, like the other disciples of Jesus, was anticipating the immediate establishing of the kingdom of God. And he was probably wondering, “How long am I going to sit in this prison?” And the question, "Are you the Messiah?" was not so much a question, as was sort of an urging, “Let's get things going; let's get moving." It could be that the fact that Jesus did not immediately establish the kingdom, overthrow Herod, and the Romans, that John did have second thoughts. Whatever be the case, the response of Jesus is quite interesting.
In that very same hour he cured many of their infirmities and of their plagues, and of the evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. And Jesus answering said unto him, Go your way, and tell John the things which you have seen and heard; how the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me (7:21-23).
Now Jesus said to His disciples, "Believe Me, or else believe Me for My works’ sake." Again He said, "The works that I do, they do testify of Me." Jesus pointed to His works as a testimony to His identity who He was. "My works bear witness, they do testify of Me. And if you don't believe Me," He said, "believe Me for My works’ sake." So He called upon His works as the witness as to His authority and to His identity. And they form a very strong witness as to His identity and His authority. Because no man can do these things, except the Lord be with him.
The works that He was doing were the works that were prophesied of the kingdom age. And, of course, that's what John was concerned about, the kingdom. "Are you the One? Why haven't You set up the kingdom? Are You the One, or shall we look for another?" And the works that He was doing were works that were the fulfillment of the kingdom age. Where the lame would leap as the deer, the blind would behold the glory of the Lord, and the dumb would sing praises unto Him. And unto the poor the gospel would be preached.
He just said, "Go back and tell John.” He knew that John knew the Scriptures. He knew the Scriptures well enough that when they come back and tell John the things that they saw, the things that they heard, that John would know the Scriptures well enough to know, that, yes, He was indeed the promised one.
So when the messengers from John departed, Jesus began to speak to the people concerning John, and he said, What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaking in the wind? (7:24)
Now the area where John was baptizing, the Jordan River, was surrounded by these reeds. They were a very, very common sight. And obviously they didn't go down to the Jordan River just to see reeds blowing in the wind. "What did you go out to see, reeds blowing in the wind?” No!
What did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? (7:25)
That is, a man who was robed in beautiful robes. And then in a bit of satire, Jesus said:
Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts (7:25).
They're not in the kings’ dungeons.
But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say unto you, much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist (7:26-28):
And so Jesus puts John at the top of the list of those prophets that had been sent by God to the Jewish people. Of all of the men born of women, not a greater than John the Baptist. But then an extremely remarkable statement.
but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he (7:28).
The privileges that you have as a child of God living in this age are superior to the highest position under the old dispensation, where God related to man in a legal way, through the law. Now those who related to God from that legalistic background, the greatest of all was John the Baptist. And yet, he who is least in the kingdom of God has greater privileges, a deeper relationship with God through the Holy Spirit, than the highest of that prior dispensation. For we have not a legal, but a loving relationship with God.
And all the people that heard Him, and the publicans [that is, the tax collectors], justified God (7:29),
They declared, “Yes, that 's right.”
because they had been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, because they were not baptized by him (7:29-30).
Jesus used this later on when they were asking Him a bunch of questions that He didn't want to answer at that moment. He said, "I'll ask you a question. If you answer My question, I'll answer yours. John's baptism, was it of God, or was it of man?" And they knew that if they said it was of man, then all the people would turn against them, because they all believed John was a prophet. But if they said it's of God, then Jesus say, “Then why weren't you baptized by John?” So they said, "Well, we can't answer You that question." Jesus said, "Well, I don't answer you yours either."
But He used this. Here was the division, it was marked, the opinions concerning John. He was officially rejected by the religious leaders, but widely accepted by the people.
And so the Lord said, What shall I liken this generation to? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace, and calling to each other, they say, We've played our pipes, and you have not danced; and we've mourned with you, but you've not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and you say, He has a devil. But the Son of man is come eating and drinking; and you say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of the tax collectors and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all of her children (7:31-35).
In other words, “What do you want? You are in a position that nothing satisfies you. John came living in an ascetic life, and you say he has a devil. I came mixing with people, eating with the publicans and all, and you say, ‘Hey, He is a winebibber; He is a gluttonous man.’ What do you want?”
One of the Pharisees desired that he would eat with him. And Jesus went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat [that is to eat dinner]. And, behold, there was a woman in the city, which was a sinner, and when she knew that Jesus was sitting in the Pharisee’s house for dinner, she brought an alabaster box of ointment, and she stood at his feet behind him weeping, and she began to wash his feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and she kissed his feet, and anointed them with ointment. Now when the Pharisees which had bidden him saw it, within himself he thought, If this man were a prophet, and if he had known what kind of a woman this is that is touching him: [He wouldn't allow her to do that] because she is a terrible sinner. And Jesus said unto him, Simon, I have something to ask you. He said, Go head and ask it, Lord. And Jesus said, There was a certain creditor who had two debtors: the one owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he completely forgave both their debts. Tell me therefore, which of them loves him the more? And Simon answered and said, Oh, I suppose that he, whom he forgave the most. And Jesus said unto him, That's right. And He turned to the woman, and he said unto Simon, You see this woman? I entered into your house, and you gave me no water for my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. You did not give me a kiss: but this woman since the time I came in has not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil you did not anoint: but this woman has anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little (7:36-47).
Simon was a rude host. And in that culture hospitality was something that was treasured highly. When you invited guests to your home, they would leave their sandals at the door, but immediately there would be a servant there with a towel and with a basin of water, and the host would provide that servant to wash your feet in order that you might come into the house to dine. Of course, they wore open sandals; they had dirt pathways that they walked on, and it was just a common, accepted courtesy that the guests that were invited would have their feet washed by the servant when they entered the door of the house. And then it was customary to greet your friends with a kiss. Usually it was a kiss on each cheek. This was just common. And, in fact, in some of those areas it is still practiced today. Italy, the men in the church when they come up and greet you, kiss you on both cheeks. And it's a sort of a beautiful, loving thing. But it was common in that culture. And then also it was common to anoint with oil. To pour oil on the head of the guest. Which was a symbol of the joy that you'd hoped to share together that evening. And they would then serve you your first cup of coffee, no sugar, strong Turkish type coffee, bitter. The idea being that you are washing away now all of the bitter experiences that you've had. The second cup they offer you is very sweet. Symbolic of that sweet time that we can now share together, that all of the bitterness was taken away.
Simon was a poor host. He did not show to Jesus any of these common courtesies. He did not wash Jesus’ feet. He did not anoint His head with oil. Nor did he kiss Him when He entered the house. But this woman washed His feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, kissed His feet continually, and anointed His feet with ointment. And here is Simon the Pharisee sitting there in his pompous, self-righteous attitudes and all, and, “If He were really a prophet, He wouldn't allow this to go on. He'd know what kind of a woman she was. And He wouldn't allow her to touch Him." You see, Simon wouldn't touch that woman. Because if you touched her, you'd be considered unclean; she was a sinner. “Don't let that woman touch me.”
I am glad that Jesus is touchable, even by sinners. I appreciate that so much. I can reach out and touch the Lord, no matter how badly I feel. He is always within reach.
And so Jesus gave to Simon this little parable about the fellow who had two debtors. One owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty pence. He forgave both their debts. Which one loves him the more? The one forgiven the most. And so Jesus said, "Yes, that's right. And this woman, because her sins are many and are forgiven, loves Me the most."
And so He said to the woman, and I am sure this is just to get Simon's goat,
He said to the woman, Your sins are forgiven (7:48).
And it had the reaction, I am sure, He was expecting.
And they that were sitting at dinner with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee (7:49-50);
Oh, oh, isn't this interesting. Jesus is bringing to men a whole new relationship to God. A relationship that is based on faith, and salvation through faith. And here this woman's faith puts her a step ahead, and already into that new dispensation of God's grace.
Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace (7:50).
Always the result for having our sins forgiven.
And it came to pass afterward, as he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene (8:1-2),
She was from Magdala, and because there were many Mary's, she was identified as Mary of Magdala, or Mary Magdalen. Jesus was called Jesus of Nazareth because there were many people by that name also. And so to identify who He was, they referred to Him as Jesus of Nazareth. Common Jewish name, Joshua in Hebrew, and it was a common name for the little boys. And so to identify Him, it was Jesus of Nazareth. Here it is Mary of Magdala, and so they called her Magdalene because that was the city from which she came.
And Jesus had cast seven devils out of her, and Joanna who was the wife of Chuza who was Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance (8:2-3).
In other words, these women that were following with the company of disciples were taking care of their needs with their substance. They were the ones that were providing the food and taking care of those needs.
I am certain that in heaven these woman who sacrificed to minister to the physical needs of Jesus during His lifetime have a very special place up there. And I imagine that they are very special women. We don't really hear much about them, not much is said concerning them. But they, no doubt, are very special women, and have a very prominent place there in the kingdom of heaven. And it will be interesting to meet them, and to get their side of the story. Because if they are anything like my wife, they can tell you so many more details of the color of their hair and eyes, and what they wore, than I can ever remember. And so the fact that we have men gospel writers, we've lost a lot of details that these women will, no doubt, be able to fill in for us, and it will be interesting talking to them indeed.
Now Jesus went about every city and village preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.
Paul the apostle, as he was talking to the elders of Ephesus there on the beach of Miletus, and knowing that this is the last time that he will probably see them, he said, "You know how that I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but I have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house." He is talking about his ministry there in Ephesus, and he said, “In my ministry to you, I showed you and I taught you."
There is much that we can learn from a lecture. But there is much that cannot be learned from a lecture, but must be learned by observation. As a person’s life demonstrates what he preaches. Many times what a person preaches is totally negated because the life that he lives is not in harmony with the message that he preaches. Jesus both preached and showed. He demonstrated the message of the kingdom that He was preaching to these people. The message of the kingdom of God was the central message that Jesus had to declare to man.
Many people are confused about the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. And there are some people who have tried to make it difference, and make spiritual kind of meanings and mysteries, and, "Has God revealed to you," brother bit. "The kingdom of heaven versus the kingdom of God." But the terms are used synonymously. Matthew usually refers to the kingdom of heaven. And the other gospel writers to the kingdom of God. But you can cross reference the Scriptures and find that they are used synonymously. The kingdom of heaven usually refers to the kingdom of God when it has come to the earth. But it is all under the kingdom of God. And the kingdom of God is that kingdom where God is King. So when Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is among you," He was showing to them the kingdom.
He lived a life in complete submission to the Father. He showed them what it was like to live a life in submission to the Father. He said, "I do always those things that please the Father." And He showed them what kind of a life it was when you lived in complete submission to the Father as King. And when you live in submission to God as the King of your life, you are living in the kingdom of God. It's just that simple. And there is no sense in trying to make some deep spiritual mystery out of it. It's an extremely simple thing. So simple that a child can understand it. And so simple that unless you become as a child, you can't enter it. You've got to get rid of all this hocus, pocus, mysteries, spiritualizing of stuff, because Jesus said it isn't that. It isn't some kind of difficult mystery, only revealed to some initiates. It is something that a child can perceive and understand. And you've got to come as a little child to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Just as a little child says, "I love God, and I want to serve God." Bowing before God, acknowledging God as the King of your life, you've become a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. That's all it takes. Obedience to God, submission to God, and you're a part of the kingdom of God.
Jesus preached to the people of the kingdom of God. It was something that was central in their minds. They were anticipating God's establishing the kingdom of heaven on earth at that time. Especially the disciples--they felt that when the Messiah came, He was going to immediately establish the kingdom of God upon the earth. But that was not God's plan. But you remember that this was so important to them, that even when Jesus is saying to them, "Now I am going to go away, but I am going to pray the Father, and He is going to send you another Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth, that He may abide with you forever (John 14:16). Now wait in Jerusalem until you receive this promise from the Father, which you've heard of Me. For John baptized you with water, but I am going to baptize you with the Holy Spirit in a few days." And they said, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom? Is this when you'll set up the kingdom of God?" Jesus said, "Look, it is not given to you to know the times and the seasons that are appointed unto the Father, but you'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you."
They were anxious for the kingdom of God, and rightly so. Because they were living in miserable conditions as far as the world itself was concerned. We should also be anxious for the kingdom of God. And I tell you, there are times when I groan and cry for the kingdom of God. When I read the statistics of Orange County, the abused children for the month of September, and I read of all of these things that are happening to these little children, I tell you, my heart, it yearns for the kingdom of God. It cries for the kingdom of God to be established. How long, God, how long are You going to allow men to go on in his rebellion against Your kingdom? How long, God, will You forebear? And it is my prayer that the Lord come quickly and establish His kingdom. For I don't think that mankind can go on much longer. I don't think mankind will survive much longer. I think that it is imperative that God establish His kingdom soon. And as I look at the world today, my heart yearns for the kingdom of God. As I look at my little grandchildren, and I think of the world that they are growing up in, I tell you, my heart cries out to God. I don't know what I would do, should some sex pervert touch one of my grandchildren. You probably would have to bail me out. I cry, “Oh God, come quickly. Things can't go on much longer.”
But Jesus was preaching the good tidings, the glad tidings of the kingdom. And it is glad tidings. A glorious day is coming. A day when men will live with peace with one another. A day when God will reign. A day when we will see the earth as God created it and intended it to be for all times. Where the deserts are blossoming like a rose. And there are streams in the deserts. And rivers in dry places. The parched ground has become a pool. And the blind will see, the lame will walk, and leap as the deer and all. These were the things that Jesus was showing as He was healing the sick. As He was feeding the multitudes. He was showing the things that would transpire in the kingdom age. And He proclaimed how beautiful and glorious it is when a man lives in obedience to God and in submission to God.
And so He preached and He showed to the kingdom of God. When Jesus was born and the angels announced to the shepherds, He announced it with these words, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" (Luke 2:10). The angel was proclaiming the kingdom of God. “The King is born, He has come. He is over in Bethlehem. He is lying in a manger, you'll find Him there swaddled.” And suddenly there was with that angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14). They were proclaiming the conditions of the kingdom. But the kingdom was to be brought by this child who the angel said, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). And to those who have found Jesus as their Lord, they have entered into the kingdom of God. And you can begin to enjoy even now a part of the benefits of the kingdom. As God fills your heart with His love, and with His peace.
Now there were many people that were gathered together, and they came to him out of every city, and he spoke to them by a parable: [And he said] A sower went out to sow his seeds: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. Some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and it sprang up, and it bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that has an ear to hear, let him hear (8:4-8).
Jesus was always saying that. And in His messages to the seven churches He repeated it to each church. "He that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches."
How important that we have an ear to hear what God is seeking to say. I am constantly praying, “God, give me an ear to hear what You have to say." And that is more than just hearing, it's understanding what God's message to man today would be. "God, what is Your message to me? What are You saying to me? What are You wanting to say to me? God, give me understanding, give me an ear to hear." For I realize that unless the Spirit does teach me, I can't learn. No matter how intelligent I might be, I cannot learn spiritual truth apart from the Spirit of God opening my heart to understand and to receive. For the natural man understandeth not the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them, they are spiritually discerned. God, give me an ear to hear.
And so the disciples asked him, saying, What does this parable mean? And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others it is spoken in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God (8:9-11).
So we realize that the Word of God falls on different types of soil, or there is a different reception in the hearts of people to the Word of God. And the Lord is sort of illustrating the four types of people upon whom the Word of God falls.
Now these are those that are by the way side, there are those that hear the word of God; and then the devil comes, and takes the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved (8:12).
Immediately there is just nothing, there is no penetration. The Word comes, but immediately Satan snatches it away, and it is as though they had never heard.
They that are on the rock are they, which, when they hear the word, they receive it with joy (8:13);
They have a great emotional experience.
but these have no root, which for a while they believe, and in time of temptation they fall away. And that which fell among the thorns, is those, when they have heard, go forth, and they are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and they bring no fruit to perfection [or completion] (8:13-14).
There is no real fruit that comes from their life. They hear, they receive, but the fruitfulness is choked out by pleasures, riches, cares.
But that which fell on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and they bring forth fruit with patience (8:15).
Now as you look at your own life and examine yourself, on what kind of soil has the Word of God fallen in your life? In which of the four categories would you place yourself: A, B, C, or D? And it might be good to take a moment with an honest look at your own heart. Am I bring forth fruit unto completion? If not, why not? Have I allowed cares, riches, desire for pleasure, to choke out my fruitfulness? On what kind of a soil has the Word of God fallen in your own heart? God help us. That we might bring forth fruit, with patience. Be not weary in well doing, in due season we will reap, if we faint not.
No man, when he has lighted a candle, covers it with a vessel, or puts it under his bed; but he sets it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Take heed therefore how you hear [be careful how you hear the word of God]: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever has not, from him shall be taken even that which he seems to have (8:16-18).
The importance of using what God has given to me for His glory. And if I do, God will add more. The Lord said, "Thou hast been faithful in a few things, now I will make you ruler over many things." That is always the process of God. Unless you are faithful in those little things that God has laid before you, He'll never lead you any further. There are a lot of people who want to jump into something big, major work for God. That's where they want to start. But they don't want to, they don't have time for teaching a Sunday school class. Or helping out in the nursery. “I want to do great things for God.” And God always promotes through the ranks. Those who begin, and are diligent in those small things, God gives more. If you are not faithful in the little things, then who is going to entrust you the things of the kingdom?
Then came to him his mother and his brothers, and they could not come in because of the crowd. And it was told him by certain ones which said, Your mother, and your brothers are standing outside, and they desire to see you. And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brothers are these which hear the word of God, and do it (8:19-21).
Now in the previous parable there was that emphasis upon doing also. But here again, Jesus is declaring that that relationship that we have with Him who hear and do His word, is that of a brother. Close relationship.
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And so they launched forth. And as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and they awoke him, saying, Master, Master, we're perishing. And so he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him (8:22-25).
It is interesting that Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith, when the ship was in jeopardy of sinking. Interesting, because from all appearances they were going to go under. “Where is your faith?” They weren't listening when Jesus said in verse 22, “Let us go over unto the other side of the lake.”
Now, when you have the Word of Jesus that you are going to go over to the other side of the lake, there is no way you can go under. “He that has an ear to hear, let him hear.” But they weren't listening carefully. And so when they were afraid that they were going to go under, He rebuked them because of their lack of faith, because He said, “Let's go over.”
And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee (8:26).
The city of Gadara has recently been discovered in the last two years. And at the present time they are excavating the site of the city of Gadara. Actually, they were building a new road up into the Golan Heights, and as they were building this new road, they began to come across these ruins, and so they halted their building, and called in the archaeologist, and they discovered the site of the aged city of Gadara. And so they moved the road a few hundred yards, and are now excavating the city of Gadara. Interestingly enough, a couple of miles from the site of the city of Gadara is the only place around the Sea of Galilee where there is a steep incline leading into the sea. So the very area where Jesus landed in His boat can be ascertained there today, and it is near the ruins of the ancient city of Gadara. So in this very area Jesus came with His disciples.
And when they came to the land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils for a long time, and he wore no clothes, nor did he live in any house, but he lived in the tombs (8:27).
The rock tombs out there.
And when he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice he said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. (For he had commanded, Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For many times it caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; but he broke the bands, and was driven by the devil into the wilderness.) And Jesus asked him, saying, What is your name? And he said, Legion: because many devils had entered into him. And they begged him that he would not command them to go out into the deep (8:28-31).
The word translated deep is the Greek word abusso, which in other places in the New Testament is translated the bottomless pit.
There are four places mentioned in the Scriptures as the places of abode for the wicked dead and for the disobedient angels and spirits. There is a place known as Tartaras, where certain angels are kept bound, awaiting the day of judgment. And they are bound in chains of Tartaras, awaiting that day of judgment. In the center of the earth, there is a place in the Scriptures called Hades. In the Hebrew it is called Sheol. It is oftentimes translated grave, and many times translated hell. It is in the center of the earth. Prior to the death of Christ and resurrection, it was divided into two compartments, and in a few weeks when we get to the sixteenth chapter of Luke's gospel, we will get a description by Jesus of what this place in the center of the earth is like, known as Hades.
We know that it is in the center of the earth, because when they asked Jesus for a sign, He said, "No sign will be given to this wicked and adulterous generation, but the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:39-40). And so when Jesus died, He descended into hell, into Hades, into this compartment in the center of the earth. And according to Peter, there He preached to those souls that were imprisoned. And according to Paul's letter to the Ephesians, when He ascended He led these captives from their captivity, fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah, the sixty-first chapter, where He would “set at liberty those who were bound, and open the prison doors to those that were captive.” And so Jesus led the captives from their captivity at the time of His resurrection. And they with Him ascended into heaven. However, Hades was divided into two compartments, of which there could be no concourse back and forth. And we'll get that in Luke's sixteenth chapter. And we'll just wait till we get there, and talk a little bit more at that time.
Now, somewhere upon the earth there is a shaft that goes from the surface of the earth down into Hades. This shaft in the Scripture is called the abusso. It is translated the bottomless pit. And this shaft is the abode and incarceration of evil spirits. The antichrist will ascend out of the abusso, the shaft. When Satan is bound during the thousand-year reign of Christ, he will be cast into this same abusso, out of which the antichrist came. In the book of Revelation we read where an angel is given the key to the abusso during in the time of God's Great Tribulation and judgment upon the earth, and he opens up the abusso, and when he does, these creatures that John graphically describes in the book of Revelation come out of the abusso and began to attack men upon the earth. These hordes of demons released, and attacking men during the Great Tribulation period. I mean, those who have made these fantasy movies haven't seen anything yet. When you read of these creatures that will come out of the abusso, these demon apparitions, actually, and demons themselves who will come and attack men. And through the ultimate result, one third of the earth’s population will be destroyed. In the beginning they have power only to hurt men for six months. And then they begin to this other horse-like creatures have power to kill, and by them a third of the earth’s population will be wiped out.
Now, when Jesus comes again and He destroys the antichrist and the false prophet, they will be cast alive into Gehenna. Gehenna is described as in outer darkness.
Now how far out does space go? They say that they have discovered galaxies that are twelve billion light years away from the earth. When you get that far I don't know how accurate your measurements can be, but give or take a few billion years. But if you continued out beyond the farthest galaxy and continued on into space until the light of our galaxy did not shine, it could be that Gehenna is out there. Or it could be that Gehenna is a black hole. Sucking everything into it, the gravitation is so heavy, that not even light can escape. But it is called in the Scripture, outer darkness. This is where the antichrist, the beast, and the false prophet will be cast when Jesus returns to the earth. A thousand years later, Satan will be released out of the abusso, this pit. Now, Satan and the demons will be put in the pit during the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ in the kingdom age, but then they will be released.
Now notice, they are begging Jesus that He would not command them at this time to go to the abusso. They know that the time is coming when they will be consigned to the abusso. They're begging further liberties now. Which, interestingly enough to me, Jesus gave to them. He did not at that time command them. "Torment us not, don't send us to the abusso." And Jesus at that time did not send them to the abusso. However, they will have their time, when Satan is bound. Now, they will be released, and will create in the heart of wicked men a rebellion against God, and against the reign of Jesus Christ, and then they will be cast into Gehenna, where the beast and the false prophet are, and then the great white throne judgment of God when all men, small and great stand before God. And whosoever name was not found written in the Book of Life will also find his place in Gehenna.
Blessed is he who takes part in the first resurrection, because he's got it made, over him the second death will have no power. But this is the second death. It is God's final consignment of the wicked. They hate the light, they will not come to the light, and so God honors their desire for darkness, and casts them into outer darkness.
Way down in the depth of Oregon Caves they turned out the lights, and we experienced what the guide said was total darkness. And I mean, that was dark. We waved our hands in front of our faces to see if we could pick up any kind of a movement--you couldn't. In fact, there is something that just sort of began to press in on you. I was glad when they turned the lights on. Because total darkness can freak you out in a hurry. Especially if you are a little kid and have a vivid imagination. They will be cast into outer darkness. And Jesus said of Gehenna, “Where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and the worm dieth not.” And in the book of Revelation speaking of it, it said, “And the smoke of their torment ascended from the ages throughout the ages."
So four places, by the grace of God, we don't have to go to any of them. Because now he that lives and believes in Jesus Christ shall never die, we will be changed. We know that when this earthly tent is dissolved, we have a building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. So we who are still living in these tents, our earthly bodies groan earnestly desiring to move out. Not to be unimbodied spirits, but we might move into that new building of God, not made with hands. For we know that as long as we are living in these tents, we are absent from the Lord, but we would choose rather to be absent from these tents, than to be present with the Lord.
Some day you may read Chuck Smith died, don't believe it, poor reporting. Chuck Smith moved out of an old worn out tent into a beautiful new mansion. A building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For Jesus said, "He who lives and believes in Me shall never die" (John 11:26).
But here they are begging not to be sent to the abusso.
So there was a herd of many swine feeding on the mountain (8:32):
Now that's illegal. These men were trafficking in illegal trade. It's like growing cocaine or poppies. And so these demons, legion,
besought him that he would allow them to enter them. And so he allowed them. And then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake, and they were choked (8:32-33).
Now my son would say this is the first account of deviled ham. I wouldn't say that, but...
Now when those who were feeding the swine saw what was done, they fled into the city, and they told the people what had happened. And so the people came out to see what was done; and they came to Jesus, and they found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, and he was sitting at the feet of Jesus, he was clothed, and in his right mind (8:34-35):
Healed, no longer naked and screaming and crying, and having to be bound with chains. But he is sitting there clothed, and in his right mind.
and they were afraid. And they also which saw it told them by what means the man who was possessed of devils was healed. And then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about begged him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again (8:35-37).
Isn't that tragic? The people were more interested in those swine than they were in this man's deliverance. The loss of their swine was of greater concern to them than a man's health. They begged Jesus to depart.
But the man, out of whom the devils were departed, begged him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to your own house, and just show how great things God has done to you. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city the great things that Jesus had done for him. Now it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned [that is, back over the other side of the lake, Capernaum], the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him (8:38-40).
What a contrast, on the one side they were saying, “Would you please get out of here?” And on the other side the crowd is waiting.
And, behold, there came a man name Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue; and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and he besought him that he would come into his house: For he had only one daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. But as he went the people were thronging him. And a woman having an issue of blood for twelve years, which had spent all of her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of His garment: and immediately her issue of blood was stopped. And Jesus said, Who touched me? And everyone denied, and Peter and those that were with Him said, Master, the multitude is thronging and pressing against you, and you say, Who touched me? Jesus said, Somebody has touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me (8:41-46).
It is interesting to me that in a multitude of people who are thronging and pressing against Jesus, there is one in the crowd who touches Him. Her touch was different from the pressing and thronging. It is interesting to me that how that the Lord can minister to people individually, even in a throng, even in a multitude. And here we are tonight a multitude of people gathered together, many pressing, many thronging. How many are touching, really receiving the touch of Jesus in your life, by faith reaching out and really touching the Lord?
Here we have two cases, contrasting cases. Twelve years earlier, before the event that we read, this woman came down with a debilitating malady. She began to hemorrhage, and it would not stop. She had gone to many doctors, they treated her until her money had run out. But her condition did not improve, it was only worse. In that society, for a woman to be bleeding meant that she was unclean from a ceremonial sense and could not enter the synagogue or the place of worship. A woman afflicted with a malady for twelve years. The loss of the relationship with her husband, according to the law he could not touch her while she was hemorrhaging. She could not worship God in the synagogue while this condition persisted. And no doubt anemic and weakened as the result. For twelve years she lived in darkness, hopelessness, and was getting worse.
On the other hand, twelve years earlier in the house of Jairus, a little girl was born, and as little girls, no doubt, brought great joy, and happiness, and light, and laughter, and beauty into the home. And for twelve years they enjoyed watching this little girl as she grew up, as her personality began to develop, and all of the cute wonderful things that she had done. In one household twelve years of darkness and despair, in the other, twelve years of laughter and beauty. And so they are approaching Jesus from different angles. In both cases, the light was going out. This woman was getting worse. She didn't have any more money. She had only one hope. Get to Jesus, touch Him.
To this dad, the light was going out. His little girl who had brought such life, and joy, and happiness into the home, was at home, and she was dying. And he had only one hope: get to Jesus. And as Jesus was going to his house, and it was urgent, the girl was dying. As He stopped, I imagine that Jairus was a little irritated that He had stopped over a triviality over, “Who touched me?” For as He was going, the crowds were going with Him and pressing Him and pushing Him, thronging against Him. And I can imagine Jairus saying, “Lord, let's get unto my house; my daughter is dying. You don't understand the urgency. Why stop over a triviality of someone touching you in this crowd?” But Jesus is persisting. And even the disciples are beginning to object, they said, "Lord, with people pressing and thronging You, what do You mean, ‘Who touched Me?’" Jesus said, "Someone has touched Me; I felt the virtue go out of from Me." And this woman stepped forth, and she knelt before Him trembling, and said, "I did it." And she told her story. Twelve years ago, twelve years that must have flashed on Jairus. “Twelve years ago I was stricken with a malady that ostracized me from the community, from my family, but I am healed. The moment I touched, I knew I was healed. I am healed; it stopped. I felt it, I know it.” And Jesus continued on to Jairus' house, after saying to her:
Be of good comfort, daughter: thy faith has made thee whole; go in peace (8:48).
Now as He was speaking, and Jesus no doubt knew this,
As he was speaking to the lady, one of the servants came running up, and he said, Don't bother the Master any more, [it's too late,] your daughter died. But Jesus turned to him, and he said, Fear not: only believe, and she shall be made whole. So when he came to the house, he did not allow any men to go in, except Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the girl. And all of those that were weeping, and wailing because of her: but he said, Don't weep; she is not dead, she is only sleeping. And they turned from their weeping, and laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And so he put them all out, and he took her by the hand, and called saying, Maid, arise (8:49-54).
The word in the Greek is my little child. Twelve years old, beautiful little girl, no doubt. Who has never seen a twelve-year-old girl who wasn't beautiful? And He said, “My little child,” very endearing term in the Greek, “arise.”
And her spirit came again (8:55),
You see, this indicates that at death our spirit departs from our body. Our spirit moves out of our body, and moves into that new body that God has. The real me is spirit, the real me isn't this body. The body is only a tent in which I am dwelling for a while. It was designed by God to exist in the conditions of this planet earth. It was designed by God and purposed by God to be the medium by which I might express me. But the body isn't me. Only the medium by which I express myself. The real me is spirit. One day my spirit will move out of this body.
Now her spirit returned to her body. It had moved out. She was dead. The spirit had moved out of the body. But her spirit returned, came again in to her body.
and she arose immediately: and he commanded that they give her something to eat. And her parents were astonished: but he charged them [or commanded them] that they should not tell any man what was done (8:55-56).
Interesting little insights into the ministry of Jesus. The miracles that He performed, given to us by Luke, who being a doctor, was quite interested in these various healings that Jesus brought to the people. And interestingly enough, he uses terms that are medical terms in the Greek language, and can be found in much of the classical Greek in the very same types of diagnosis in records and classic Greek that Luke is describing here of those being healed by Jesus.
Next week chapters 9 and 10, as the Lord wills.
May the Lord be with you and may the Lord bless you. May the Lord fill you with His love and give you His grace, His power to live and to be that God would have you to do and to be. For He would have you to live in His kingdom, the child of the kingdom, the joy and the peace and the love and joy that mark His kingdom. For the kingdom of God is not meat or drink, but righteousness, peace and joy. For extra credit get a concordance and follow up the kingdom of God and what the requirements are of that kingdom. You’ll find it a very fascinating study as much is written concerning the kingdom of God.