February 1, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 8)

Submitted by John C. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church


Luke 8:22-25

  • Picture Jesus sleeping in the midst of a squall. What is the significance of this picture? As I picture this squall, a storm so big that the boat was being swamped and the disciples were exclaiming with certainty that they are going to drown, it must have been a huge shock to the disciples to see that Jesus was sleeping through all of this. In the face of great imminent danger and the possibility of death, Jesus was calm and didn’t share the same sense of fear and anxiety that the disciples had about this storm. From this picture, there were two significant points that stood out for me. First, this picture comes to show how Jesus’ concern and heart for people far exceeds anything else, even including his own life. Preceding this event, Jesus was going village to village preaching the gospel, skipping meals and sacrificing sleep to the point where his mother and brothers came to him to take matters to their own hand, in which they were unsuccessful in doing. Jesus was losing sleep over his anguish and deep desire for the people to repent but when he encountered a squall that threatened his life, it didn’t worry him to the point of losing sleep. This personally really challenged me as I think about how often I’m more concerned about my own safety, my own comfort, my own desires. It’s this contrast that I see of how I am like versus how Jesus was like that points sharply of just how much maturing that still lies ahead of me. Second, this is a more obvious point, but it’s the fact that Jesus is greater than any “squalls” that may come in your life. Jesus was right next to them, but coupled with the fact that they were shocked at how Jesus commanded the storm into silence along with their tremendous fear that they will drown, it came that they lacked in faith that Jesus could subdue this storm. The disciples have been spending time with Jesus, watching him perform numerous miracles including raising a widow’s only son back to life (Luke 7:14-15), and yet after witnessing first hand all that Jesus has done, they were still trembling in fear and were in awe of how Jesus rebuked the squall to calmness. When reading this text, it seemed odd to me that the disciples would have such little faith, but then it didn’t take long for me to realize that such demonstration of lack of faith is something that I can identify with personally. There have been so many times in my life in the past when I can attest to God’s faithfulness in my life, miraculously delivering me from many dangerous moments in my life, but still when the next “squall” hits me, I panic, I worry, I even complain why it seems like God is so quiet and perhaps “sleeping” through all of this. From the two significant points mentioned, I am more acutely aware of just my need to continue to grow and mature in Christ-likeness, viewing the salvation of others more important than my own life and remembering that no matter how difficult it may be, that with Jesus nothing is impossible.

Luke 8:27-29

  • What was the condition of the demon-possessed man as described in these verses? The condition of the man is described as the following: “for a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs.” To not have worn clothes, strongly implies that this man must have lost a sense of dignity or lost his mind, his sanity, and to not live in a house but in the tombs comes to show that he had no relationship with others.  In sum, he was an insane, social outcast who lived in isolation.
  • What is the significance of the fact that he had lived in the tombs? To live in the tombs, to put in crude terms, means that this man was living among the dead. The significance is that although this man was living, he was essentially dead. This is such a tragic life. I couldn’t help but to think about how this man, who once belonged to a family, who once must have been the recipient of love and care from others, who once must have had a home, get to this point of now living a “dead” life. He didn’t plan to do this, his intention was never to be like this, but no matter how good-willed this man might have been, it comes to show just how helpless he is when his spirit is taken over by the demon. Also, seen from the fact that there were attempts to chain his “hand and foot and kept under guard,” which implies that the village people must have tried to help him, retrain him, bring his life to control, but the demon in him have “broken his chains” and further driven “into solitary places.”  Ultimately, all efforts made by the man and the village people were futile and his life was taken over by this demon which led to a path of destruction and death.
  • How does the life of this demon-possessed man describe my life before Christ? The description above regarding the life of a demon-possessed man, who is helplessly following in the pathway of destruction and death fits exactly how my life was like before Christ saved me. I was that demon-possessed man, who essentially was living a dead life. In fact, all my life I was possessed by the demon of my insatiable fleshly desires of pleasure. Similar to this man, it wasn’t just one but a “legion” of demons which often veiled itself as voices of truth in my life. I would hear voices like “do what your heart tells you,” “go with how you feel,” “you desire it,” “it feels right,” “don’t let anybody stop you,” etc. The result of living such a life wasn’t one of freedom, one of joy or self-fulfillment, but rather it was one of hurt, emptiness, and enslavement. I was a slave to my feelings and fleshly desires which often led me to making very poor decisions in my life resulting in either hurting people and/or pushing the very people who I love away from me. The relationships that I did form were very shallow that centered around those who can contribute in bringing me what I want and help me quench my desires which would only increase more and more I satisfy them. Soon I was led to a life that centered around partying and alcohol which furthermore gave me this great sense of meaninglessness of my life that struck me, when I paused to think really is this all there is to life? Is it really about doing all I can do to maximize pleasures in my life? Following exactly how I “felt right” didn’t lead me feeling like I’m really living, but rather it left me feeling dead. I was living for myself and only for myself. I never felt fully satisfied and there was always this feeling of a greater longing in my heart. If I were asked of my identity just as Jesus asked this man’s name, I would not know who I am. For many years, I’ve lived a life as a product, as a puppet of my pleasures, that a sense of identity was not there. Essentially, just like this demon-possessed man, I was living my life “in the tombs”–a life devoid of meaning, purpose, or direction but living an enslaved life of fleshly desires. Such was the life that I was living before Christ.

Luke 8:30

  • ·         Why did Jesus ask him, “What is your name?”  When the demon-possessed man saw Jesus, his response was that he “cried out and fell at his feet” pleading for mercy and to not be “tortured” by him. To this demon-possessed man, his view of Jesus was an impersonal man that does not care about him but simply want to torment him and bring him greater pain and suffering. At this point, had Jesus just simply cast out the demon from this man, rid him from the miserable life that he was living in, restore him to his right mind and return him back to the village, the view of Jesus being an impersonal man would have remained true. He would have been seen as one who wants to bring peace and harmony to all of mankind but that would have been it, nothing more. But here is where the significance of Jesus’ question lies. More than casting out the demons from this man, more than healing this man physically, more than externally ridding this man of pain and suffering, Jesus was interested in personally knowing who this man is, to have a personal relationship with him. Such is the heart of Jesus, such is the heart of God. It’s very unfortunate that the common misconception that people have towards Christianity and towards God is that he is like a kill-joy God who wants to rob them from pleasure, a dictator God who is all about do’s and don’ts completely uninterested in the person, an impersonal God who is aloof and careless of all the suffering in this world. Such misconceptions deter people from possibly hearing the truth of the gospel, that indeed it is the message of “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10), that Jesus not only wants to heal us physically but more importantly he wants to reestablish a personal relationship with us and heal us physically.
  • ·         Given the deep significance of a person’s name in Hebrew culture, how does Jesus’ question give dignity to this demon-possessed man? A person’s name served as the person’s identity in the Hebrew culture. Simon was changed to Peter (Cephas) after his confession that Jesus is the living song of God. It says that “for a long time” he “had lived in the tombs” and as I think about this, I couldn’t help but to wonder, when was the last time this man was asked of his name? A person’s name served as the person’s identity in the Hebrew culture, and for this demon-possessed man to be asked this question restores significance. Perhaps for this man, he was now called crazy man, but to suddenly be asked this question gives him a sense of identity. It probably has been a long time since anybody has expressed interest in wanting to know him.

 Submitted by Suzanne S. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

  • Jesus asleep in the midst of the storm

The picture of the disciples being safe in the boat just because they are with Jesus was an apt picture of how despite the storms of this life we can be ultimately safe in the eternal security of being with Jesus. As I have ministered to people going through painful difficulties of life, I thought about how the best place really to be is with Jesus no matter what the storms are in life. What rebukes the howling winds of negative thoughts, the raging waters of emotions and grief are the strong words of Jesus speaking to us. It really is the word of God that brings comfort in the midst of loss and suffering.  As God spoke to the winds and the storm subsided, I too need to have God’s word spoken to me.   I have experienced again and again how living and active the word of God is and how it has the power to calm the various emotions going on inside.

  • Tombs, chained hand and foot … dressed and in his right mind.

As I read the description of this demon possessed man it really hit me differently this time around. I’ve always known this passage as an imagery of people enslaved by their sins but this is so true to life. This time around, I thought about how we become like this possessed man when we escape and do not deal with sins of the past.  Especially as this Sunday’s message is going to be on escapism as a form of immaturity, it hit me anew how when people go through things but never fully process some issue from the past and it’s not properly dealt it can potentially turn us into the demon-possessed man who is living in the tombs of our memories, chained by our guilt and shame, but never fully healed because we didn’t want someone to torture us with having to tell the whole truth.  As our key verse is John 8:32 – You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free — I saw how if escapism takes over and we don’t want to be “tortured” by touching the truths of all that had happened and if people have been escaping from it then we can become like this pitiful man. Often times people just don’t want to go there and ultimately it culminates into being driven to solitary places and never having community with anyone because there is no confession and repentance. They are ashamed of some issues, and if there is no confession and repentance the past haunts them and chains them and throws them around.

My prayer is that through honest confession and repentance I can be daily transformed to the man sitting dressed in my right mind and that I can lead others to confession and repentance so that they will experience the truth setting them free and dressed and sitting in their right mind ready to hear the words of God.

Lord, please help me to be honest, to mature so that I do not escape various relational tensions or different feelings of guilt that I have but help me to confront them so I do not become like this demon-possessed man who is so ambivalent of the truth coming to set him free. Help me to lead others in this process so that they are not living in the tombs of the past, they are not chaining themselves unnecessarily.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

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