Skip Heitzig - Luke 8:1-39
Father, we gather together with a variety of experiences that we have had throughout the week. Some have been horrific and heartbreaking. Some have been wonderful, filled with your blessing, the evidence of your touch. And so we are here tonight from a variety of different life experiences, and we are here in different spiritual conditions, and only you really know the heart. You know what we're struggling with, you know what we're thinking about, and you know what we need to hear most. So, Lord, in this place we just open ourselves up to you and we ask that you through Scripture, the presence of your Holy Spirit, breaking to us, our hearts the very Bread of Life, the Word of Life, that you would do a work in us, even as Jesus spoke and people were transformed. I pray that as your Word speaks, as the Holy Spirit takes a truth to one heart and another truth to another heart, I pray that we would be matured growing, going from glory to glory, being conformed into the same image as that of Jesus Christ, transformed by the renewing of our minds, in Jesus' name, amen.
We started chapter 8, I take you back to the beginning of it and we'll read it through for the sake of the whole picture. Most of you know that women were disregarded, for the most part, societally 2,000 years ago by the Romans, by the Greeks, and even by the Jews, even by Jesus' followers. Do you remember when Jesus went to Samaria and was hanging out, talking, having a conversation with that woman at the well? That when the disciples came back from Samaria to the well and they saw Jesus talking to her, the Scripture says, "and they marveled that he was speaking with a woman." That was something to them worth marveling about. "Huh. Peter, what do you make of that? He's talking to a woman publicly."
So, they were not highly regarded societally for a number of reasons we have covered in the past, but just note that they were not highly regarded in the ancient world. In the Roman world...and that is, the world that has occupied this territory of the Holy Land. They were in control of it. The Romans were autocratic, male dominant, autocratic. And they had a law that I told you about before called the patria potestas, the absolute rule of the father, a male dominated culture. Whatever the man of the house says is what is law. He had the power to even enslave his children or sell them as slaves, and he had the power to enact capital punishment on his own children.
The ancient writer Cicero wrote: "Our ancestors made it a rule that women, because of their weak intellects, should have guardians to take care of them." Then Socrates, who everybody in college seems to think is, like, the coolest guy ever, said: "Is there anyone to whom you entrust more serious matters than to your wife, but is there anyone whom you talk less to than your wife?" Women were not included in the census figures, the men were. Sometimes women, girls, when they were born, the only name they got wasn't some individual name, but simply the feminine name of their father. If his name was Julius, she would get the name Julia. And if she was the second daughter, they might even call her by the name Secunda, which means "the second."
She didn't even get a name, but a number. And if she was third, she might be called Tertia, "number three." So it was really, from our cultural standpoint, very degrading. So here comes Jesus on the scene, followed by disciples, twelve apostles, but also we're told about women who were attracted to the message of compassion and attracted to this leader like the others who listened to him were. And, by the way, the very last to be at the cross were not men, they were women. They didn't run off. They weren't scared. They stood there. The very first to the tomb were not men, but women. And history has proven and statistics have shown that when it comes to church involvement, it's always women who outnumbered the men. Unfortunately, that's just the way it is.
I'd love to see men rise up and take the challenge of leadership, but so often the first volunteers, and it has been that way for a number of years throughout church history, have been women. So, we're not surprised then when we see our Lord embracing a variety of followers. "Now it came to pass, afterward, that he went through every city and village, preaching, and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities...Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's servant, and Susanna, and many others who had provided for him from their substance."
What that means is, as we noted last time, they wanted to support the ministry of Jesus financially, which is interesting, because it's not like Jesus needed it. Right? We believe in the deity of Christ. We know that Jesus is God. We know that God for forty years could supply his people, the children of Israel, with manna in the desert. We know that Jesus could perform miracles and multiply loaves and fish. He could even, if he wanted to, and Satan even noticed that that was a possibility and suggested that he turn these stones into bread. He could do whatever he wanted. He didn't need anybody's support. But, now here the key, he allowed.
He allowed those who had been touched by him, who had been forgiven by him, who had been healed by him, to be connected with him, and to provide for his needs, if you will, to partner with him in ministry. Now here is the key to giving to the Lord: If you feel like you have to, then Paul said, don't do it. Do as you purpose in your heart. The only reason you would purpose in your heart is because, "I get to. I get to be a partner in the ministry that Jesus is doing on the earth, and I want to be in partnership with him. And I am just grateful that he healed me, that he touched me, that he forgave me." So he allowed for that. "And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to him from every city, he spoke by a parable."
Now we have noted on many occasions that Jesus was a storyteller. I think that was one of his attractive gifts when it came to teaching. He could spin a beautiful story that would grab people's attention. And the Bible says, "The common person heard him gladly." They loved listening to him. "He spoke with authority, not like the scribes," but he also spoke in such a winsome, storytelling way that it was fascinating. A full one-third of all of Jesus' recorded teaching is in parable, storytelling form. Now the word "parable" appears many times, forty-eight times in the New Testament. And the word parabolé, the original Greek term, means to cast alongside, to cast alongside of.
And the idea is to cast alongside a truth that is unfamiliar and to come alongside that truth and cast next to that unfamiliar truth a familiar example or story, so that in seeing that which is familiar, it makes the unfamiliar more familiar, more understandable. So when you're dealing with ethereal truths, come up with a practical story, and the practical story will drive home the ethereal truth. And so that's the idea of a parable. Some people say it's an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. But it's just better to see it as a human example or story that brings you in. It usually has just one major point, but it highlights, it illustrates something of heavenly value, some great truth. And so Jesus placed alongside of what he was teaching these familiar stories.
By the way, it was one of most rabbis' favorite ways to teach their disciples. So here's the parable: "'A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside.'" The "wayside" is the hardened path that you would walk on next to a field, and sometimes around the perimeter of the field, sometimes right through the middle of it. That's the wayside. It's the hardened, packed, dirt road. "'Some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock; as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among the thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.'
"And when he had said these things he cried, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear!'" Now in Mark, chapter 4, which is a parallel account of this...you know, we have the Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They're called "Synoptics" because they're very alike. In Mark's account, when it comes to this parable, Jesus said to his disciples, "How is it that you don't understand this parable? If you don't understand this parable, how will you be able to understand all the parables?" It's as if this parable becomes a key to unlocking so many of the other parables. So you'll notice there's three elements: there's the seed, there's the sower, there's the soil. The seed, he will tell us here in this passage, he will tell his disciples, the seed is the Word of God. It's the truth of God.
That's the seed that is planted in the soil. The seed is the truth of Scripture. That's how you and I came to salvation. Peter said in First Peter that we are "born again, not by corruptible seed but by incorruptible seed, which is the word of God." So it's put in the ground, the truth will germinate and grow and bear fruit. The second is the sower, the person who takes the Word of God and tells it to somebody else. Who led you to Christ? I'm not asking you to answer that all at one time out loud. It's a rhetorical, sort of inward question. But think of who led you to Christ. Was it a conversation you had with a friend? Was it a family member? Was it a sermon you heard? An evangelistic crusade?
I heard many different people tell me about Jesus, until, finally, that seed had been growing, and at a Billy Graham crusade I gave my life to Christ. But there were friends of mine who were sowing that seed into my life. That's the sower. The sower sows the truth, the Word of God. As we go through the book of Acts, we find out that these early apostles were sent from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the uttermost parts of the earth, basically as sower of seed, throw out the truth, see what happens, see how "the Lord adds daily to the church those who are being saved." So, I love how Luke, who wrote this book, wrote the sequel, we call it Luke II or the book of Acts. And he begins this way: "The former account that I wrote to you, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach."
"That's what he started to do. That's what I wrote about in the book of Luke. That's what he began to do." But his implication is that he's continuing to do it now in Luke, volume II, the book of Acts, through the apostles who are sowing the seed in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. The third element to the story is the soil...the seed, the sower, and the soil...the soil turns out to be the heart. And there's four different conditions of the heart that Jesus describes. Now, this is interesting to me: he gives the parable, and "When he had said these things," verse 8, "he cried, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear!'" Now, you would think that the apostles had ears to hear, those closest to Jesus would say, "Oh, that's good. That's so rich. You have revealed great truth to me."
But instead, "His disciples asked him, saying, 'What does this parable mean?'" So, he told a beautiful little story, very short story, and they went "Huh?" So they obviously didn't seem to have great ears to hear it, said, "What does it mean?" And he says in verse 10, "'To you, to you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that "Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand."'" In other words, the reason Jesus taught in these stories, these placed-alongside analogies, these parables, for two reasons: to reveal the truth, and to conceal the truth: to reveal the truth to those whose hearts are opened to received it, "Those who have ears to hear"; and to conceal or to hide the truth from those whose ears are closed, whose hearts are hardened.
So he tells the story, and if you have "ears to hear," if you have a heart that wants to know about spiritual things, what it should do is stimulate your curiosity. It should generate interest, so that the truth that you hear is driven deeper into the soil and becomes more fruitful. But if you're not spiritually inclined, it's just a cute little story and you have no clue what he was talking about. Now, you'll notice that Jesus in verse 10 is quoting from somewhere else. And you can tell that because in the New Testament you see how that it's indented where it says, "Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand"? This is a quotation out of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 6. You know that story.
In Isaiah 6, Isaiah gets a vision of the Lord, "high and lifted up, and the train of his robe fills the temple." And the Lord cries out after the vision and he says, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us?" And Isaiah said, "Here I am!" or "Here am I! Send me, Lord." And so the Lord said, "Isaiah, go, go. And speak to this people," his people, the people of Israel, "Speak to this people: 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed." In other words, "Isaiah, I'm sending you to a rebellious people, many have closed their hearts and your pronouncement, your words are going to fall on deaf ears. Some will hear, many will not hear."
"I'm speaking parables to this crowd for some whose hearts are open, the truth will be deeper, richer, more manifest; for others, they went get it, because their hearts are hard. They don't have ears that can hear." It brings up to me a principle: listening to truth can be very dangerous. Because if you listen to truth, like you are listening to it now, without the intention of an open heart, without the intention of ears wide open..."Lord, speak to me. Lord, change me, transform me," if not, the heart becomes hardened, calloused. And you'll find out that the Lord will be less inclined to reveal truth to you if you're not going to apply what you have now, as you're going to see as we go on.
You remember in the Old Testament, do you remember the verse where the Lord says, "And you will find me if you search for me with all your heart"? The New Testament equivalent is when Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, they will be filled. One of the reasons you will meet believers, Christians...lot of people say, "Oh, yeah, I'm a Christian," and, yet, they seem so shallow spiritually. They're Christians, and you say, "Well, how long have you known the Lord?" "Oh, I've known the Lord twenty years," "ten years," "five years," "forty years." And, yet, they seem spiritually stunted is for this reason: They have no real hunger. They have no hunger. And your growth spiritually is directly proportional to your hunger spiritually.
If you hunger and thirst, you'll be filled. If you casually snack, rather than hunger and thirst, you'll pick up a little bit here and a little bit there, but there'll be no really depth. And this is why many people will even turn away from Bible study, because in not having a lifestyle that puts it into practice, they just sort of get done with it. They get bored with it. "I mean, how much do I have to listen to it? How much can I handle?" Well, I can't speak for you, but I can speak for me...I need it all the time. I need...and here's why: I'll read a truth that I've read a dozen or more times, and I've already forgotten it. I need to be refreshed and reminded. That's the transformation of the mind: "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
Because I live in a world that gives me all sorts of other messages, so when I hear God's words and I apply it to my heart and I hunger and thirst after it, that's where the transformation takes place. Verse 11, "'Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; but then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.'" This is the calloused heart. This is the person who hears truth, hears the gospel, it doesn't seem to penetrate. I've spoken to people before who when they hear the gospel, it's as if there's blinders, or it's like I just gave them a calculus problem. And they say, "I just don't get it," or "I don't understand." There's no penetration at all.
I've had people say as soon as I mention the Gospel or Jesus, "Oh, I don't want to hear another word." They're just not even open. There's no conviction of heart, no conviction of sin. This is the calloused heart, no penetration. It's like the grain that falls on the hardened dirt. Have you ever been in a place where there's a lot of pigeons where people feed the pigeons and you have little grains and you throw them out. And you throw them out on the pavement, and because they're exposed, because of the pavement, they're easy to get to. They're not really going to go deep. They're just lying on the surface. That's the idea here...the wayside.
Verse 13, "'But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation they fall away.'" Now this is the shallow heart. When it says they were sown on the rock, let me explain that. It's not like it falls on hardened rock, but in Israel, in the Middle East, in that part of the world, you almost have to go on a tour to appreciate any of these kind of stories, because once you see it, you understand. You know, when Jesus said, "If these [the disciples] held their peace, the very rocks would cry out," once you go to Israel, you get it. The whole place, it's all rocky everywhere.
So when a farmer wanted to plant something, and often in Judea you'll see these terraced farmed hillsides where they build walls and they flatten out the hillside, and they have to remove the rocks. Now, because there's rock everywhere, sometimes there's bedrock and there's just a little few inches of dirt on the hard rock itself, on the bedrock. So it's dirt, but just underneath a few inches is a rocky shelf. So, the seed will germinate and it will grow. It will sprout up very, very quickly, because it's warm, there are some surface nutrients. But because there's no allowance for the root system to go deep because of the rock, as soon as the sun hits it, it withers away. So it's a rocky shelf with just a few inches of dirt. That's the idea of this description.
So they "received the word with joy." They're very emotional. They hear it, they go, "Yeah!" There's a response to it. The problem is that's their response to everything they hear. Some new cause, "Yeah!" another cause, "Yeah!" They just have that emotional reaction, but it doesn't really stand the test of time. It doesn't last. I used to call these "Alka-Seltzer Christians." You know, what an Alka-Seltzer is, right? You place it in water and it fizzes, but it fizzles out very quickly. There's people who, you know, you drop the Gospel on them, it's like fizzzzz. They start fizzing, you know, like, "Wow! I'm so excited!" And they get all emotional, but they fizzle out very quickly.
As soon as it gets rough, they go, "I didn't sign up for this. Jesus didn't meet my expectation. I didn't get healed. I didn't get rich. I didn't get this." That's the shallow heart. They're not with us any longer. "'Now the ones,'" verse 14, "'that fell among the thorns are those who, when they have heard, they go out and are choked with the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life, and they bring no fruit to maturity.'" This is the crowded heart. And the people who represent this category have never really made a clean break with the world. They get choked by the world's system, the world's values, their friends who have worldly values. They're so influenced by that. That's their background.
It's so hard to make a break. And they're never really rooted in Christ. So it's like, I don't know, it's like they're torn between two kingdoms: the kingdom of God; the kingdom of darkness. They have enough of Jesus, I suppose, in them to make them uncomfortable in the world totally, but they have enough of the world in them to make them sort of uncomfortable totally in Christ. They're the most miserable of any of these people, just sort of wavering back and forth, choked up by cares, riches, pleasures. Ah, but verse 15, "'The ones that fell on the good ground are those who have heard the word, and with a noble and good heart they keep it and they bear fruit with patience.'" This is the fruitful heart. And they're fruitful because they have a root system.
If there's no root, there's no fruit. And if there's fruit, it's because they have root. They're rooted. Their roots go deep. That's what they depend on. That's what they get nourished in. And they bear fruit, notice, "with patience." "Oh, I don't know, man, I'm not seeing any fruit." Just keep going, just hold on. "Well, things are getting rough." Just keep plowing, just keep moving, just keep going. They bear fruit with patience. Now, here's something discouraging. Jesus gives this picture. Now let's look at it in percentages. Let's look at in on a pie chart. Twenty-five percent immediately want nothing to do with the message. Seventy-five percent are okay with it and have an affinity toward the gospel message. Twenty-five percent immediately shut it out.
Fifty percent in this pie chart, 50 percent have minimal growth or feigned growth, fake growth, temporary growth, emotional growth. Only 25 percent out of all the seed that is sown are the real deal; they're bearing forth fruit with patience. "'No one, when he has lit a lamp,'" Verse 16, "'Covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light.'" Would you ever turn on a light and then stuff it under your bed, or turn on a flashlight and put it in your coat pocket, and then say, "I can't see anything." Well, of course you can't, numskull, take it out of your pocket and point it a something.
So in those days when you would light a lamp...and a lamp wasn't something you plug in and turn on, a lamp was a little piece of clay pottery with a little spout on it. You put oil in it, and you have a little wick laying in it, and you light the wick, and it lights the area. And you would put it on a shelf, the shelf that comes out of the wall or is a niche in the wall. That's the lampstand, so that everybody could see it. "'For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor is anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore'" ...now watch this..."'take heed how you hear.'" Remember I said that listening can be dangerous, hearing truth can be dangerous? That's why Jesus said, knowing that, "Take heed how you hear."
How are you listening right now at this moment to this message? It can be dangerous. "Take heed"...not just what you hear, that's one thing, but take heed how you are listening to it..."how you hear." All of this flows together. "'For whoever has, to him more will be given; and to whoever who does not have, even what thinks he has,'" is one translation, or this says, "seems to have will be taken from him.'" "Take heed how you hear." "Then his mother and his brothers came to him, and could not approach him because of the crowd." By the way, let me just give a P.S. to what we just read: when you hear truth, when you have received the light, now go out of here and lift the lamp higher.
So you have received truth, go find someone to tell that truth to: your kids, your husband, your wife, a friend at work. What you have learned, some salient truth that you have learned tonight, go tell that to someone else. Now you are enlightening others with the light you have received. You're taking heed how you hear it. You're hearing it, you're bearing forth fruit, and you want others to partake of the fruit and to be able to see with the enlightenment. If you've been enlightened, now enlighten others, and you'll be getting more and more and more and it'll never stop. You'll never stop growing. You'll always be receiving rich revelation from God. But if not, after a while, you'll just get so bored with Bible study, you'll just stop taking it in altogether, because..."Whatever, it's just another Bible study."
So give away what you receive. So, anyway, "His mother and his brothers came to him, and could not approach him because of the crowd." That'd be frustrating. They're related. "This son of ours, this brother of ours seems to have a lot of people listening, and we want to get in and say something to him." "It was told him by some, who said, 'Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.'" This passage to me was very unnerving when I first read it, because of my background as a Roman Catholic...and to all of our Roman Catholic brethren, and sisteren, maybe you'll be able to relate to this. But, you know, I just was shocked at seeing Jesus' response, because of what I had been taught.
First of all, it blew my mind that it says his brothers were there, because I had been taught in a dogma called the perpetual virginity of Christ...of Mary, excuse me, that Mary was a virgin when she had Jesus, which is true and biblical. But then the dogma that the Catholic Church added is that she always remained a virgin afterwards, which the Bible does not sympathize with, but, rather, says that Joseph and Mary had other children, so that Jesus had brothers...really half brothers, because Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit, so these were half brothers. So that was a shock to me. The second shock to me is what Jesus said. So here's the message, "Jesus, your mother, Mary, is here, and your brothers are here to see you."
"But he answered and said to them, 'My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.'" Interesting. Now why that was unnerving to me is because Jesus didn't seem to place the same veneration toward his mother that I did. I seemed to have more veneration toward his mother than Jesus himself had. And so it got me thinking, " if this is what Jesus said about his mother and brothers, then maybe I don't need to talk to Jesus' mother to get Jesus to do something for me, like I had been taught." That's what I was taught: "If you really need something done, you want to talk to Mary, because moms know how to get their sons to do stuff." Basically, that's was the dogma that was taught to me in school.
So if it's a big order, big-ticket item, go to Jesus' mother, because she can talk to her Son and she'll get it done for you. Moms can do that. That's how it was spun to me. What I see Jesus saying here is that "I do acknowledge physical, filial, family relations, however, I place," Jesus would say, "I place a higher emphasis on a spiritual family. Here's my family: those who hear the word of God and decide they're going to open their hearts, open their ears, the seed is going to fall on soil that bears forth fruit with patience. Those are the...that's my family." And I discovered something too after reading this passage. I discovered the truth of the spiritual family called "the church."
I discovered that after a time, as I grew in Christ, I felt closer to my spiritual brothers and sisters than I did even to my own family, because there was...we were on the same spiritual page. There was an understanding about spiritual things that I did not share with my own family at that time. But I did with brothers and sisters in Christ, and I felt..."Now that's the family that I'm really a part of." And I felt closer to people who weren't my relatives, but they were children of God. "Now it happened, on a certain day, that he got into a boat with his disciples. And he said to them, 'Let us cross over to this other side of the lake.' And they launched out. But as they sailed he fell asleep," Jesus, asleep in the boat.
"And a windstorm came," notice, "down on the lake." I'll explain in a moment. "And they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him and awoke him, saying, 'Master, Master, we are perishing!' And he arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said to them, 'Where is your faith?' And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, 'Who can this be? For he commands even the winds and the water to obey him!'" Before I explain the setting a little bit, I want to show just about a forty-second clip. We had the privilege to film a little documentary in Israel some years ago, because in the eighties they discovered a boat from the time of Jesus.
If you want to see what this boat looked like, in terms of its dimensions, there's a replica of it that this little forty-second clip will show you, and then a 2,000-year-old boat that they exhumed from the mud in the Sea of Galilee that had been sunk. And then we'll get back to the story. But turn your eyes to the screen.
So you saw the boat, and when you looked at it, I don't know if you saw this, said this, but when I first saw this boat, I thought, "That's a pretty small boat." Right? It's only twenty-six and a half feet long, seven and a half feet wide. That was the typical fishing boat 2,000 years ago in the Sea of Galilee. So the fact that they were scared that the boat was going to sink, you could sort of see why. There were a lot of boats that sunk, and this was one of the boats that sank. And when the water was real low back in the eighties, the late eighties, they found this boat, they took it up, and they found a way to preserve it. So here's what's going on: The Sea of Galilee is interesting topographically.
The Sea of Galilee is below the level of the ocean, below sea level, 686 feet below sea level. So if you're in the Galilee region, you look down from the mountains, and you take the bus or the car or the bicycle or your feet, whatever you're on, you can see it down there. You have to wind your way down to this below-sea-level lake. Because it's below sea level and because the mountains around it, the hot air rises, during the warmer months especially, rises from the lake and it creates this vacuum effect that draws in the cooler air from the Mediterranean that comes from the west down on the lake. That's why it says the wind "came down on the lake."
So like a carburetor...and for those of you who don't know what those are, because there's fuel injection now, those were devices in my day where you would mix air and gas in a car. And there's a little thing in a carburetor called a "venturi" that starts out wide and narrows to throw the gas in with velocity, with force, the gas and air into the engine. And so this topographical canyon acts as a venturi where the Mediterranean, that is blowing wind from the west, narrows into these funneled canyons and blows down on the lake. As the hot air rises and the vacuum sucks that air in, it can cause, in a very quick period of time, the lake to be deadly. I mean, I was there one day when it was perfectly calm, and within an hour it was just crazy wind.
Even the day we filmed it, it's like, "Get a load of this wind." So it could toss these little boats around. The disciples are afraid and they cry out and they said, "Lord we're perishing!" Jesus was asleep in the boat. Now, I just want to jog your mind a little bit. Do you know of another story in the Bible where there was a boat on a sea that was being tossed around and somebody else was asleep on that boat? Jonah. Now, the sailors on that boat were also afraid. And they woke Jonah up and they said, "Jonah, whoever your God is, start praying." Right? And Jonah's solution to this is: "Just throw me overboard and this thing will stop." So compare that with here's Jesus, the disciples are afraid, they wake Jesus up.
They don't say, "Pray to your God"...he is God. Jesus stands up and speaks a word and calms the sea, proving the point to which Jesus spoke earlier, saying, "For a greater than Jonah is here." And this "greater than Jonah" speaks to the sea. Now, this blew their minds. That's why they said, "Who is this guy?" Because when the wind stops on a lake, just the wind normally stops. After the wind is gone, it takes a while for the waves that are now churned up, it could take hours before it gets calm again. There's still chop, there's still white caps. For the wind to stop and there to be a calm on the sea...they were seasoned fisherman, they'd never seen this. So they said to each other, they marveled, thaumazó, they blew their minds: "Who is this guy that these winds and the sea obeys him?"
Oh, oh, just something else: the reason Jesus said to them, and it sound like he's rebuking, he said, "Where is your faith?" two reasons: number one, Jesus had made a promise to them and they weren't listening. "Let us go over," he said. See what it says? "Let us cross over to the other side." Now, they wake Jesus up, because they think they're going under. "Don't you care? We're dying!" "Where's your faith? Didn't you hear what I said? I said you're going over. If I say you're going over, why are you worried that you're going under?" So pay careful attention to what you read in Scripture. "Take heed how you hear." If he makes you a promise, grab a hold of it.
You know, somebody should have said, "What are you guys worried about? He said we're going over. Didn't he say, 'Let's cross over'?" Here's another reason: not only his promise, but his presence. He was with them in the boat. Jesus is with you in your boat. You're not alone. He said, "I will never leave you. I will never forsake you." And I suppose there's a third reason; that is, his peace. His promise, his power, his peace. Jesus is sleeping in the boat. This freaked them out. "Jesus is asleep!" Good, that should be a lesson to you. If he's not worried about it, if he's resting, that ought to be your position. Lay next to him. Catch a few winks. If he's resting in the storm, it's a good indicator for you, just relax, just rest, enjoy his peace.
And they sailed to the country opposite, or "Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee," on the eastern side. "And when he stepped out on the land, there met him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs." This would be an arresting sight, to say the least. "And when he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, with a loud voice, and said, 'What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me!' For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.
"Jesus asked him, saying, 'What is your name?' And he said, 'Legion,' because many demons had entered him." Uh-oh. A legion was 6,000 foot soldiers, armed foot soldiers with 120 horsemen besides, a well-organized army. The fact that many demons, very organized hierarchy of demonic spirits, would seem to indicate, shows the kind of possession, demonization this person was experiencing. But notice: "They [the demons] begged him [Jesus] that he would not command them to go out into the abyss." Now, I don't know if you noticed this or not, I really hadn't noticed it until this reading of it, but I started chewing on a Scripture. And I know you go, "Uh-oh," because that could be a long one. "When you chew on something, it could be a long time, make a long explanation."
But listen to this: Here's the man seemingly very tormented. He's in shackles. He breaks the shackles. He's in isolation. He's in this filthy kind of living like an animal. He retreats back to the cemetery, and when he sees Jesus, he cries out and says, "Don't torment me." Okay, am I the only one who heard that right? "Don't torment me"? What do you call what you've been living in X amount of years? Is that not torment? But here the demon is speaking of something very particular. "Don't torment me." And what he refers to is this, what it says in verse 31, "They begged him that he would not command them to go out into the abyss." Very different kind of a torment. The word "abyss" is the word abussos, not apple sauce, abussos.
It appears seven times in the book of Revelation. It's rendered "the bottomless pit." It seems as though if you read the Scripture, and there are references to this, that there are certain demons that are incarcerated in this place called the bottomless pit, or the abusso, the abussos. They're kept there. They're incarcerated there, that God has chosen to incarcerate them there. Let me just read a Scripture to you from First Peter...or Second Peter, chapter 2. It says this: "For if God," this is Second Peter 2 verse 4, "If God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world and the ungodly," etcetera, etcetera.
So, some demons seem to do combat in the heavenly places. I refer to you, at a later date, Daniel, chapter 10. These are angels who are fighting in heavenly places. There are other demons, who it seems are confined to the earthly realm, the realm of humanity, and they're in the spiritual battle in the earthly realm. And then there are other demons that are incarcerated in this special place, these chains that the Bible speaks about. So if that's true, then we're forced to ask: What do you have to do to get there? What did they have to do to get thrown in that place. Who were they? What did they do? Well, they must have done something really, really bad, and this must be the worst of the worst.
In Jude, chapter 6...excuse me, Jude there's only one chapter. Jude, verse 6, it says, "And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of this great day." A great number of scholars believe that these are demons that are involved in what Genesis 6 speaks about, "When the sons of God [the ben élohiym] saw the daughters of men, that they were fair; and they took wives unto themselves," and they produced this race, that their intention was to produce an irredeemable race. And God's judgment was to take them and confine those demons from that point on into the abyss. These demons that are confronting Jesus know about that, know that God has incarcerated.
He was in the habit of doing that in the past, and they don't want to go there. They're in torment. They're tormenting this guy. They don't want that torment. "Don't torment us. Don't throw us into the abyss, that place of incarceration where the worst of the worst, the worst criminals of all are incarcerated." Now just to add a little more light before we bring this to a close...and, unfortunately, I wish I had another hour to keep going, but I don't. But when we get to the book of Revelation in chapter 9, John sees in this vision the abyss, the abussos, not the apple sauce, the bottomless pit, open up and hordes of these demons who had been incarcerated come on the earth, and what makes the tribulation period so bad is that.
Now, you have all the demons from the heavenly places, and all the demons already battling in the earthly realm, plus all the worst of the worst demons incarcerated in the pit, being belched out of that pit, swarming all over the earth in this all-out war spiritually that will eventuate into a massive war literally upon the earth...bad stuff. "Don't send us there," they begged him. "Now a herd of many swine were feeding there on the mountain. So they begged him that he would permit them to enter them. And he permitted them." I'm going to refrain from the joke. You know the joke, right? You've heard it a million times...deviled ham, right? Yeah, you know that one. The first time, deviled ham, is right here.
Or you might say, the first mention of swine flu, because, you know, they... "Then the demons went out of the man, entered the swine, and the herd ran violently," they're flying, "down the steep place into the lake and they drown." So they didn't go into the abyss of that incarcerated place, but they got into the abyss of the Sea of Galilee. Don't eat the fish. And they drown. "When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and the country. And they went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus, and they found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid."
These demons recognize something that many people do not recognize. They recognize the authority of Christ and the superiority of Christ. They recognize and believe in the existence of God. You know what James says, "The devils have faith." You know, people say, "I believe." James says, "So do all the demons." There's not one demon who doesn't believe in the existence of God and the deity of Christ and the resurrection of Christ. Every devil in hell believes that. They are not saved. It's not saving faith just to acknowledge the facts. So they believe in the existence of God, they believe in the deity of Christ, they believe in the future judgment, and they believe in the power of prayer.
They're talking to Jesus. They're begging Jesus, "Don't send us there; send us there." I dare say they believe in the power of prayer perhaps more than some of us, as they approach Jesus with this request. He sends them out. This man is now healed. "He's sitting at the feet of Jesus"...I love this..."clothed and in his right mind." He's alert, bright-eyed, clear, all the stuff is gone. And it says that the people who ran this business, instead of saying, "And they were glad," it says, "They were afraid." They're afraid. They seem to love their pigs more than their people. They're more curious and interested about and consumed with their business than with the business of spiritual matters. "They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed.
And the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked him to depart from them." That's their prayer: "Go away from us Jesus." "For they were seized with great fear. And he got into the boat and returned." You know, some of my friends were just like this. They could handle me when I was on drugs, and I sold and bought them with them, and trafficked with them. And even their parents, they knew what was going on, but it's like, okay, they could handle me in doing that, and doing my spiritism, him astral projection. "Okay, yeah, he's a little out there." But, okay, now when I came to Christ, "We're afraid. You're weird now. We don't want to be with you anymore." Very similar response.
Look at verse 38. "The man from whom the demons had departed beg him that he might be with him." So you have the demons begging Jesus one thing, the townspeople begging Jesus to leave, and the man who has been healed begging Jesus, "Let me come with you." Now of all the people who are begging Jesus, the only guy with the right heart is this guy. And notice how Jesus answers his prayer: "Return to your house." He said no to him. "No, you can't come with me. No, you can't be on my team. No, I won't say yes to your prayer. No, you go back home." "'And return to your house, and tell what great things God has done for you.' And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him."
He became the first missionary...what a privilege...the first witness to proclaim what Jesus can do to a person. We don't have any more time for any other explanation. Though I have a lot bubbling over in my heart, I want to be faithful to you and your children. So would you take the elements you have in front of you. And know this, as you peel the top and you take the bread, as you place it in your hands and you look at the wafer, reminiscent of the Passover, reminiscent of the time Jesus took the bread of the Passover and broke it and said, "This is my body, broken for you," the broken body of Jesus represents that he took all of our sin on his body, that he was broken by our sin, and by his stripes we are healed.
And here is a man who was demonized, demon possessed, isolated, alienated from society. Society pushed him out. That's all they can do. That's all they can do is alienate, isolate, medicate, but they cannot change that person. Jesus could change him with a word, just like Jesus can change anyone of us with any filthy condition or habit we have with a word, because by his stripes we are healed. And so you take this, saying, "I identify with Jesus, that he took my filth, my sin on his body, and it was that sin that broke him, and I am healed by those stripes." Let's take it together. As we peel the second layer exposing the fruit of the vine, the juice speaks to us of his blood.
For at that Supper he took the cup, the fourth cup of redemption in the Passover, and said, "Drink this, this is my blood, shed for you for the remission of sin." And in holding this and in a moment drinking this, we acknowledge that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness." And he has cleansed us of our unrighteousness, of my unrighteousness, and by this blood I am redeemed. I am purchased to the Father. I'm his own possession. And he delights in having you and I as his children. And it's because of this blood of Jesus Christ whose blood we celebrate by this emblem in our hands. Let's take it.
Father, as we close tonight, we think of the song that we're going to sing in heaven, the anthem of heaven in Revelation 5, that you have redeemed us by your blood out of every tribe and nation, tongue, and kindred; and you've made us priests unto our God, and you deserve all glory, all honor, and all of our might and power, all the energy we have that would say, "Praise the Lord for what you've done for us!" Thank you, in Jesus' name, amen.