Luke 8

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Verse 26: They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. (NIV)

  • The text explicitly says they “sailed down” into the land of the Gerasenes. So they were in the bottom section of the Sea of Galilee, and possibly had been blown flown down the Jordon River a ways.
  • There are parallel accounts of this narrative in Matthew 8:28-34 and Mark 5:1-20.
    • Mark is the longest of them all and says that the man would hurt himself with rocks.
    • Matthew is quite short, and also says that there were two men there who would attack people.
  • A Gerasene was someone from Gerasa on the East side of the Jordon river.
    • Gerasa is now called “Jerash” and is a ways away from the Sea of Galilee that Jesus crossed.
    • This was a city that was part of the “Decapolis” or 10 Roman cities that were very Greek on the east side of the Jordon river. It is possible that “Gerasene” was a term used for all of them.
    • Textually, “Gerasene” is weak. Gerasa didn't have land all the way to the lake, they were 30 miles inland (Marshall 336).
    • Being part of the Decapolis, the area was mostly Gentile with some Jewish people. Most places East of the Jordon were Gentile territory. This is probably the intent of the mention, that it was a Gentile area.
  • The Sea of Galilee that Jesus just crossed is only about 8 miles across at its' widest.
    • Given the storm of the previous verses, and the position of Gerasa, however, they were probably blown South and might have gone as many as 15 miles.
  • The term, “opposite Galilee” is not just geographical, but illustrative of the entire narrative.
    • This was Jesus' first journey out of Jewish land. This was a trip to the exact opposite of Galilee.
    • This was a Greek culture, there were probably very few Jews in this area.
    • There were pigs running around, graveyards, demons by the thousand. This was not Israel. Everything about this place would have creeped out a Jew.

Verse 27: When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. (NIV)

  • This is not a good time for Jesus personally.
    • Jesus was apparently very tired. He fell asleep in the boat on the way over, got woken up by the disciples in a panic, and he had to deal with that.
    • Jesus had also just had his family not understand him (Luke 8:21), and the disciples become afraid of him because of his power (Luke 8:23.
  • This seems to be an immediate encounter. Luke seems to be implying anticipation on the demon-possessed man's part. This emphasizes the power of the demons.
  • Luke uses “demon” and “evil spirit” interchangeably in this account. He doesn't seem to make any difference between them, though “demon” is the stronger term by far.
    • The word used here is “daimonion” which in contrast to “daimon” has the specific sense of being something good or evil that lies outside of the realm of our knowledge, something divine (TDNT vol. 2, 8).
    • ”Demon” in Greek thought meant a lesser god. As the Jews of course regarded all other gods as false and evil and so this term came to mean something powerful that was at work against God's people.
    • Demon is a generic term in Greek use for powers unknown or intermediary beings, less than God but more than men (TDNT vol.2, 2).
    • Later on “demon” was anything supernatural that hurts people. Often this was associated with spirits of the dead (TDNT vol 2, 6).
    • ”Evil spirit” is a more vague term to refer to the same thing. So in the most basic sense this is anything people of the day could not control and affected people. Some believers take this to include mental and physical illness that no one could understand and seemed out of control.
    • Demon possession is not talked about outside of the gospels. In fact, this is the only place in Luke where it is mentioned by a term other than "evil spirit."
  • The man is not named here, and he is never mentioned again. He might have died without ever hearing of how the story of Jesus ends.
    • He is probably a Gentile based on how he addresses Jesus (Green 335) and where he lives.
  • ”From the town” should indicate his allegiance or original location, and not where he had immediately came from.
  • The tombs are of course unclean for the Jews.
  • This entire encounter, including the location in the Decapolis seems to be designed to turn a good Jew's stomach. Demon possession, nakedness, tombs, herds of pigs.

Verse 28: When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!” (NIV)

  • Some versions say man lunged at Jesus and screamed at him, not worshipped.
  • “Cry out” is the sound a raven makes, a loud nasty cry or scream (TDNT vol. 3, 898).
  • This is one of the most accurate and descriptive ways of addressing Jesus in the Bible.
    • By naming Jesus the demoniac was probably demonstrating his own power and being unafraid of Jesus.
    • That the demoniac knew this also is evidence of foreknowledge on the demoniac's part. This is especially important to the story as we just had an encounter where Jesus apparently did not see a storm coming.
  • ”What do you want with me” is more literally “what to you and to me.” It's not a begging, but a challenge almost. “What is going to happen here Jesus?” By using Jesus' name and title it only emphasizes the conflict this demon was trying to raise.
  • This discussion between the demon possessed person and Jesus is about who has the most power (Green 339). The entire narrative is a tug of war, despite the use of ”beg” in this verse.
    • People thought names allowed you to control a person (Green 339). So the demon tried to control Jesus by using his name. Jesus asks the demon for its' name and it gives a number.
    • Jesus tells the demon to leave and the demon tries to get into the pigs instead, and does. But the pigs die anyway.
    • The demon was fighting to stay in control of something, anything. He was trying to best Jesus, but Jesus won in the end.
  • ”Fall down” can be positive or negative.
    • It means to fall upon someone, but can be collapsing on them to cry, attacking them, meeting up with them, begging from them, or a number of other things (Liddell 696).
    • Given the verbal conflict afterwards I would probably take this to mean a violent movement, especially as Matthew records the demons being violent to people.

Verse 29: For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. (NIV)

  • We do not have Jesus telling the demons to come out directing.
  • That the evil spirits resisted Jesus at all is mildly shocking.
  • ”Seize” is not completely clear. It could be that he had seizures, or that he normally had control and periodically the evil spirits took over.
  • There is no mention of who kept him under guard. He isn't mentioned as being in prison, but that could be what is implied here.
  • This verse is two separate flashbacks, and we are not told when either event happened.
    • We can assume that seizing the man happened before Jesus came, possibly immediately before.
    • Jesus commanding the spirits to leave seems to fit best in the middle of the demoniac's previous statement. That way he challenges Jesus, Jesus tells the spirits what he wants is for them to leave, and they ask Jesus not to torment them.

Verse 30: Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. (NIV)

  • See commentary on verse 28 for the significance of names and the power struggle this represents.
  • ”Legion” is not a name. The demoniac was dodging the question here, trying to maintain some power over Jesus by knowing Jesus' name while Jesus didn't know his.
    • A legion was between 1600 and 5600 men, so this was a lot. It was the major unit of counting the Roman army, which was the strongest army around at the time.
    • The demon possessed man was trying to threaten Jesus. Instead of giving his name he gave this, saying in effect "I am thousands strong, I am an army that can level countries."

Verse 31: And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. (NIV)

  • Jesus even hears the pleading of evil spirits, and has mercy.
  • The abyss that the demon was trying to avoid is not the biblical hell.
    • It is from books that never made the Bible, 1 Enoch and Book of Jubilee. It is the place where demons went to be punished.
    • The abyss is mentioned briefly in the Bible, but not enough to really say anything about it.

Verse 32: A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. (NIV)

  • Remember, to the Jews pigs were unclean, and so this herd of pigs is one of the nastiest things around.

Verse 33: When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. (NIV)

  • The pigs died. Apparently, this was better for the spirits than to return to the abyss. Or perhaps their request was merely foolish and they paid the price.
  • In the parallel account in Mark 5:1-20 it specifically mentions that there were two thousand pigs that drowned.

Verse 35: and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. (NIV)

  • Notice how the reversal of how the man acts is completed at the end.
    • Running around, sitting at Jesus' feet
    • No clothes, has clothes
    • Lived in tombs, goes back to his house
    • Out of his mind, peaceful
  • No explanation is given as to why a normal man should scare them more than a demon-possessed one. Here are some theories, though.
    • An evil spirit was something that couldn't be controlled, and yet Jesus controlled it. He also killed their livestock and livelihood, however. That is scary because it is so much power.
    • We aren't told exactly why they wanted him gone but probably just because they couldn't control him, they didn't know what to expect from him and didn't want to take the risk.
    • Perhaps also this is evidence of how this region is treated as completely opposite Jewish territory. A normal person following God scared them.

Verse 36: Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. (NIV)

  • Even though the most easily understood for the following fear is the loss of their pigs, this is not what the people told the town. They told of the man being cured and so this must be the basis for the people's fear in the next verse.

Verse 37: Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. (NIV)

  • Again, there is some hyperbole here as it is unlikely that everyone actually came. But a great many did, apparently from fear of his healing powers.
  • It is interesting that even though these people had kept the man under guard and bound, which was surely an expense, they were not glad to see him cured.
  • Unlike when the Jews felt afraid and threatened, however, these people did not react violently but asked Jesus to leave.

Verse 38: The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, (NIV)

  • The man wanted to stay with Jesus, but witnessing was more important.
  • It is interesting that Jesus hears the pleading of the man when the demons spoke, but not when the man himself begged. Whether this is a power issue or something else is unclear.

Verse 39: “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. (NIV)

  • Notice that the man isn't to talk about Jesus, or how to encounter Jesus, but what Jesus had done for him.
    • The heart of evangelism is not proofs or logic, but sharing how God has shaped our stories, our lives.

Message Ideas/Scripts/Liturgy That Use This Chapter

Let the One Who Has Ears to Hear take Heed!1-15We must not hoard the seeds of life others have given us, but sow them for others.Evangelism
GeneralGeneralMessage Idea
Waves of Fear26-39We are not alone, the demons are, only fear can stop usFearAdultsGeneralMessage Idea