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Pbcc.orgP E N I N S U L A B I B L E C H U R C H C U P E R T I N O in our text today, Jesus extends an invitation to his disciples to were lying around hippos like little chicks gathered around accompany him to “the other side of the lake” to expand the sphere the mother hen. Kursi, a fishing village in the northwestern of his mission. This will be Jesus’ first venture into Gentile territory corner of the hippene, as the region was called, was one of the and it becomes a paradigm of how he intends to train us to overcome villages over which the city of hippos held dominion. There our fears that inhibit us from fulfilling the great commission—to go Jesus’ boat was heading with other boats in its wake.2 into all the world and make disciples of all nations. The effectiveness of his training is evident in the ultimate transformation of the B. A storm rages
disciples from homebound, myopic Jews who had had little contact So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a
with Gentiles, to pioneering evangelists and church planters who windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with
fearlessly crossed every known political, geographical and racial water and were in danger. And they went and woke him,
boundary with the gospel. That radical transformation begins in saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” (Luke 8:22b–24a)
this thrilling heart-stopping adventure. But it is not for the weak of heart; for those of you who get sea sick, i recommend taking The journey begins in a peaceful calm. After an exhausting day of preaching, Jesus finds his way to the back of the boat The text is carefully constructed in two interconnected stories, and immediately falls into a deep sleep. But it isn’t long before so as to shed light on each other. Joel Green notes that, a windstorm suddenly descends upon the lake whipping up the waves and swamping their vessel with water. sudden storms were 1. Both open with references to traveling to the other side of a common occurrence on the lake, as warm westerly winds from the sea would pick up incredible speed as they passed through the 2. Both give dramatic detail of a “raging storm” Jesus must Valley of doves and then down onto the lake below. 3. in each Jesus issues commands over chaotic forces The disciples, some of whom were very experienced in the ways 4. in both calm results from Jesus’ intervention of this sea, were anything but asleep. They normally dropped their nets closer to shore near Capernaum and were not prepared for such an intense squall this far from shore. They spare no effort I. Stilling the Storm at Sea (Luke 8:22–25)
to save themselves, but find themselves overcome by the raging A. The invitation (v 22)
sea. As their vessel takes on more and more water, they come to a standstill and are in danger of sinking. in exasperation they One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to
them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” (Luke
turn to their sleeping rabbi and rouse him out of his sleep with 8:22a ESV)
desperate screams, “master, master, we are perishing!” having finished his parabolic discourse on a sower sowing seeds in 1633 rembrandt painted his one and only seascape, Christ in different soils, Jesus now puts the disciples to the test to in the Storm on the lake of galilee.3 in her book Contemplative discover whether they “had ears to hear.” did they hear with a Vision, A guide to Christian Art and prayer, Juliet Benner helps us faith that perseveres? to find out he invites them to accompany him to an unknown destination on the “other side of the lake.” living his life in a seafaring nation, rembrandt knew well Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t mean that you will always the power of the sea and the dramatic storms of the northern know where you are going, nor what dangers you will encounter european coasts. his interpretation of Jesus asleep in the boat along the way. But faith requires that we obey, trusting in the in the storm reflects his personal experience of this. Burdened with familial and financial pressures, with personal misfortunes Venturing forth to the east side of the lake was a bold move, for and sorrows later in life, rembrandt vividly depicts the inner this was predominantly a Gentile area replete with idolatry and emotional drama of the disciples in his painting.
demonic forces. even the physical characteristics of the shores The dramatic use of light and dark divides the canvas into two appeared ominous and foreboding. Bargil Pixner writes, distinct parts. to emphasize the contrast, the towering mast, The steep cliffs of the hippene, the most northern part of the resembling a cross, pitches upward in a powerful diagonal. on decapolis, loomed menacingly from afar. The city hippos lay the left side of the painting the boat heaves on the crest of a there like a fortress on the basalt plateau, resembling the head massive wave, churning from the gale-force winds. some of its of a noble steed and looking defiantly across to tiberius, her rigging seems to have snapped off and is flapping around high rival on the other side of the lake. A number of smaller villages The men on the foredeck wrestle and struggle to keep the boat it is not faithless to have genuine emotions in the face of from capsizing; others working on the central mast trying for dire circumstances; Job teaches us that too, as do the lament all its worth to reattach the violently torn and tattered mainsail psalms. too many Jesus-followers equate faith with emotional that seems to have been whipped off. An oar and grappling fortitude, with the absence of anxiety or fear or grief. instead, hook flail about as well, about to be lost in the waves. we can it is faith-less to draw conclusions about the plans Jesus has almost hear the savage flapping of sails, the creaking of masts for us based on what we see rather than what we hear him say and hull, and the howling whistle of the tempestuous winds.
Jesus is placed in the shadowed side of the painting. Though i discovered an example of the faith Jesus expected while he is in the dark, he is still available and can be touched. studying Psalm 77, a psalm written by Asaph during the exile. in he is being shaken awake by one of the disciples. others it he cries out with great distress, wondering if God’s loyal-love look intently at Jesus as they await his reaction. one in the has vanished forever. After giving voice to his lament, he refuses foreground leans over the side of the boat, possibly seasick.
to give in to despair and forces himself to re-examine how God in spite of the darkness, the faces of the men on this side are saved his people in the exodus. musing over old truths, God lit by the same eerie yellow light that surrounds Jesus. on this gives him a new insight that utterly rejuvenates his faltering faith: side of the gigantic wave, it is relatively calm. Jesus is perfectly Your way was through the sea,
at peace in the stern of the boat and sleeps soundly during this your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
Benner notes that there are not twelve, but thirteen disciples You led your people like a flock
aboard, which may be the artist’s invitation to place ourselves in by the hand of Moses and Aaron. (Ps 77:19–20 ESV)
the painting. where do you find yourself? from his renewed observations in the exodus, the poet realizes C. Calm without, fear within
that though God’s ways were hidden and mysterious (through the sea with no footprints), he was faithful to give them leaders to And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves,
guide them. with these fresh insights he is able to wait on God, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them,
knowing that he will eventually lead his people out of exile by “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they
means of a new and greater exodus with new leadership, the long marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he
awaited messiah. This was his faith. Now far from being uncaring commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” (Luke
or aloof (as mark records their accusation), Jesus is actually in the 8:24b–25)
boat with his disciples in the midst of raging waters. And if Jesus As Jesus awakens out of deep sleep, he immediately takes is in your boat, as ray stedman once observed, “The boat will not command of the situation, and “rebukes” the raging waves and sink and the storm will not last forever.”7 the wind as if they were demon-directed. As Joel Green observes, when it was over the fear of the sea was replaced by a greater “The old testament sometimes portrays the power of nature fear as the disciples wondered who this prophet really was. who as demonic; what is of equal interest is that it is also depicts is this that even the wind and the sea obey? who is this who does yahweh as lord of the sea and his power over the sea as mastery things that only the creator God is said to have done in the old of a monstrous, evil power.”5 it doesn’t take much imagination testament? such questions pressed in on them with more force to see behind the gale force winds the threatened powers of the than the tumultuous waves which had threatened their tiny boat. underworld, trying to prevent Jesus from making an appearance i’m sure their minds were anything but calm as they now glided on their shores. Their hope was to fill this boat up with water upon the glassy sea through the stark stillness of that night with and drown the rabbi and his crew into the depths of the sea. yet, no wind to aid them or oppose them. yet even greater wonders with just a word from Jesus the gale force winds instantly become await them on the other side, as Jesus is about to confront an even calm. i imagine it was a most eerie, frightening calm. As Jesus rebukes the wind, he is displaying authority and power that only God possesses. Psalm 107 reads like a script: II. Stilling the Storm Within (Luke 8:26–33)
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
A. The other side of midnight
and he brought them out of their distress.
Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, he
the waves of the sea were hushed.
met a man from the city who had demons. For a long time
They were glad when it grew calm,
he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but
and he guided them to their desired haven.
among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell
down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you
once calm is restored, Jesus rebukes the disciples for their lack to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you,
of faith. As a friend of mine pointed out, it was not their fear that do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean
Jesus rebukes, but the conclusions they make about their future spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized
based on their circumstances (“we are perishing”). him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and
shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the
and ‘rush’ describes troops rushing into battle.”10 These strong demon into the desert.) (Luke 8:26–29)
military overtones evoke israel’s memory of the exodus with As Jesus sets foot in hostile pagan territory, he is confronted by Pharaoh’s elite troops drowned in the bottom of the sea. This a man who has been invaded by a host of demonic spirits. luke’s is what israel had been hoping and praying for since the days portrayal of the man’s dark depravity is lengthy, poignant and of her exile—“where is he who brought them up out of the sea gripping. he is nameless and exposed in his shameless nakedness. with the shepherds of his flock?” (isa 63:11). The answer comes Being “from the city,” he once had seen better days, but no that God will bring a new and greater exodus that will end longer. Cut off from all human contact and compassion, he now “inhabits a liminal space between worlds: human and demonic, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
living and dead.”8 The only human touch he experiences comes I have called you by name, you are mine.
from the brutal prison guards who curse and beat him after his When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
innumerable escapes. Their brutality gives vent to an entire city’s and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
frustration that this public nuisance cannot be kept at bay. Thus says the LORD,
As the bestial man notices a small boat coming onto his turf, who makes a way in the sea,
he rushes in for the attack. imagine the terror from the disciples a path in the mighty waters,
point of view. They are within a hair’s breath of being overpowered who brings forth chariot and horse,
and defiled by all that is abhorrent and unclean. But everything army and warrior;
changes as the demons within the man recognize who leads this they lie down, they cannot rise,
expedition. realizing they are outmatched, they fall down in fear they are extinguished, quenched like a wick.” (Isa 43:2,
and give homage to “Jesus, the son of the most high God.” 16–19 RSV)
only now do we learn that Jesus had commanded the demon rikki watts concludes that Jesus appears “as the Creator- to leave the man, something that no one in the city had ever dared warrior of the first exodus as he rebukes the chaos waters, attempt. what follows next is as surprising as it is gripping.
and, in the second, this same Creator-warrior demonstrates his ability to deliver israel from the oppressive legion of idol-demons B. What’s in a name?
by drowning them into the sea.”11 so on the eastern shores of Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said,
Galilee the exodus is re-enacted but on a grander scale, for it is “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they
not rome, but the devil and his demon hordes that are defeated. begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss.
in obedience to Jesus’ word the spirits evacuate the man and Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside,
rush into the pigs. The pigs are so startled that they rush off and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave
the rocky precipice that suddenly drops into the sea. what a them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and
sight, two thousand pigs flying off into oblivion. The demons entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank
are banished, and with their departure the land is also cleansed into the lake and drowned. (Luke 8:30–33)
Jesus asks the demon his name. The answer is legion, which what a wondrous sight this must have been for the man, evokes strong military overtones. “legion” was the technical name a sacred sign and permanent seal of his deliverance. it would for a roman military company consisting of several thousand be comparable to an alcoholic seeing every bottle he had ever troops. yet in the presence of Jesus they look more like whipped touched, every bar stool he’d ever sat on, every liquor sign dogs as they beg him not to send them into the abyss. Knowing whose neon lights had mesmerized him, and every Bud light Jesus will not permit them to enter another human being, they commercial he’d ever seen, all gathered together in one heap and try and cut their losses with an alternate proposal of cheaper in one fell swoop cast off the cliff of his city and swept away housing—pigs. why pigs? Bargil Pixner explains the connection: by the sea. when it was over, there wouldn’t be one drinking The name legion is perhaps an allusion to the roman legions establishment left in his city. God’s intent is not merely saving with whose help Pompey had founded the decapolis. Pompey isolated individuals, but nothing short of a complete restoration came from syria in 63 B.C. and conferred pagan-hellenistic city rights on the decapolis. Because of these legions the demons insist that they have the right to remain in this region, if not in III. Stirring Up a Storm of Terror (Luke 8:34–39)
people, at least pigs. why pigs? The Canaanites had sacrificed A. The good news is spread
pigs to demons. The archaeologists have found altars erected for that purpose… so this special relationship between pigs and When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and
demons becomes understandable. moreover the emblem of one told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out
of the most famous legions, the decima fretensis, was that of to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found
the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet
of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.
The scene is packed with military terminology. Besides the (Luke 8:34–35 ESV)
term “legion,” which is a direct reference to rome, rikki watts observes (from the same scene in mark 5:13) that “the term ‘herd,’ The event not only made a lasting impression on the man, but clearly inappropriate for pigs, indicates a band of military recruits, also the herdsmen who were the caretakers of the pigs. The loss of two thousand pigs was not going to sit well with their owners. God has placed us, and “imaging” his kingdom in that place. our terrified by what they have seen, they took off in a panic and text gives us a paradigm of just how that happens. spread the report of the man’s deliverance far and wide. hearing 1. We step out by divine invitation and leading. – God initiated
the news, people came from everywhere to see first hand what this adventure by an invitation to the disciples to accompany had taken place. when they arrive at the summit of the cliff they him “to the other side” of the lake. to begin to have a heart for can’t believe their eyes. The man who was once naked and demon the whole world, God begins where the disciples are and invites possessed is now calm as the still sea, clothed and rational, sitting them to go “to the other side,” and he goes with them into that at the feet of Jesus (the mode of a disciple). world. After the Great Commission Jesus tells them there will be B. Fear and greed trump mercy
no geographical or cultural boundaries they won’t cross and claim And those who had seen it told them how the demon- for the kingdom. But, Jesus says, you will go in stages (Jerusalem,
possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the samaria, to the outer most parts of the earth) and you must learn
surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart to wait for the holy spirit to lead and empower you. The holy
from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into spirit plays a critical role in who is sent and where they go. we
the boat and returned. (Luke 8:36–37)
don’t go barging into new territory without the lord’s invitation or create five-year plans with preconceived ideas about success. As they stand speechless in shock the herdsmen fill in details of rather we humbly wait and watch to see where Jesus is going the man’s deliverance. to their horror they discover the high price ahead of us, whether it’s to “the other side” of the street, the office, the community has had to bear with the loss of their herds at the the neighborhood, the state or the country. Knowing he goes bottom of the cliff. As materialistic minds begin to weigh in on before us, calms our fears and gives us courage to take that first the price of redemption for just one life, fear trumps mercy, and step “to go.” they ask Jesus to leave. Paraphrasing a line from the poem gadara 2. Expect a storm of resistance. – once we decide to follow
Jesus into enemy-held territory we need to prepare for a storm of resistance from the devil. As we see the story played out, we discover the fierce storm was a sign that the enemy was threatened by the arrival of Jesus and his word. he knows his days are numbered and that all his victims are about to be liberated. upon his arrival the “so he got into the boat and returned.” The one who rebuked demons bow down and beg like whipped dogs pleading for mercy. the sea, who commands demons with a word, gives way to the free The storm was thus a preview of what they would find on shore. will of human beings. There is no argument, no pleading. he just from the disciples point of view, the storm was a critical test to leaves. he will not coerce himself upon the human heart. did you prepare them for the actual mission, to completely let go of control ever know you had such power over deity? Jesus first mission into and place their trust completely in the words of Jesus. if you can’t Gentile territory seemingly ends in failure. or does it? let go in the midst of the storm, you will not be able to let go on C. A mustard seed of obedience
land, when the work prepared for you in advance is at hand. Any The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he storm you are in right now is not merely something to survive; it
might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return is there to help you develop the skills you are going to need when
to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” you arrive in the new territory Jesus is preparing for you. This is
And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city why Paul tells us not to be threatened when we encounter these
how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:38–39)
intimidating attacks from the evil one but “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of As Jesus embarked in his boat, the man who had been demon the evil one” (eph 6:16). when making an advance into enemy possessed begged him that he might go along. But Jesus said no, territory, the roman armies held large rectangular shields over you stay home and declare what great things the lord has done their heads as they marched in unison. The shields formed a metal for you, how he had mercy on you. The man obeyed and went canopy impervious to flaming arrows shot at the advancing army. throughout the whole city (mark 5:20 adds the entire decapolis of ten cities!) proclaiming what great things Jesus had done for him. 3. Take courage, for the battle is already won. – As the disciples
made their first venture into enemy (Gentile) territory, they were IV. Will You Follow Him to the Other Side?
confronted with evil in the extreme, a legion of demons, who held sway not only over the man, but terrorized an entire community. our text contains a treasure trove of principles for how God with just a word they, along with the pigs, were drowned in the enlarges the human heart to embrace his world. let me conclude bottom of the sea. seeing that Jesus has accomplished the ultimate with just a few, hopefully to tease you into looking deeper for victory over evil was designed to remove their fears (the theme of more. to know and love God is to have a heart that burns with these stories) and grant them the courage to go anywhere with the God’s love for the whole world. This is not love in the abstract, gospel.
but one that takes root and grows from real life experiences of having Jesus lead you into new situations where you encounter in the same way, the apostles invite us to stay focused on the real people with pressing needs. Being mission minded is bigger cross, through which “he disarmed the rulers and authorities and than “going somewhere,” it’s having our eyes open to the place put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col 2:15). This truth enables us to be like Jesus in the way he treated will you follow him to the other side?people in vile circumstances with compassion, while hating the life, a mustard seed of faith and obedience. This man not only evil forces that hold the person captive. As an aside, i’m impressed went home to proclaim what Jesus had done for him, but mark how little dialogue we hear from Jesus in this text. Perhaps this also adds that he continued to share his story throughout the suggests that in order to break strongholds of evil, acts of justice ten cities of the decapolis on the east side of the Jordan (mark 5:20). Pixner tells us, “in less than four centuries a magnificent 4. Rejoice for gospel offers a restoration unmatched by the
cathedral would stand on those heights. The presence of a bishop world. – After Jesus’ encounter with the man, his restored of hippos at the very first Church Councils will bear witness of
condition is narrated in perfect counterpoint to his depravity.12 how Christianity conquered heathendom. did the Christians of hippos remember their first missionary by building the chapel which can still be seen at the site of his tomb-cave on the slope Thus the text leaves us with the haunting question: “where is your faith?” having just witnessed the report from our liberia team, allow me to ask you the question. did you have the faith to believe that the offspring of the people who sat in the squalor of the building called “titanic” are now sitting in a thriving school he did not live in house but in returned to his home for 270 liberian children? Thirty years ago ron ritchie, one of our pastors, had the courage to go to “the other side” by accepting an invitation to teach a Bible study at the home of the president he fell down before him and he was sitting at the feet of of the los Altos hills Country Club. over a two-year period seventeen people came to Christ in that Bible study, among them Peter and Carol ross. from them came their son, Jim, who became a missionary with Visiontrust. And now Jim has spearheaded scores of people from this church laboring together to turn titanic into a new community. total restoration. Therein This should cause us to rejoice, for wherever we go in the world, lies the power of the kingdom for those who have eyes to see and or whatever circles we happen to work in, we have something to offer that no one else has. The gospel offers a wholeness to make us fully human and brings complete restoration to shattered relationships. it’s like sitting down to play poker with a royal 1 Adapted from Joel B. Green, The gospel of luke (NiCNt; Grand 5. Know the real point of contention with the world. – despite
the demoniac’s miraculous deliverance, the community wanted 2 Bargil Pixner, With Jesus Through galilee According to the fifth none of it. why? The answer is quite simple; it had nothing to do gospel (rosh Pina, israel: Corazin Publishing, 1992), 42.
with differing religious views or philosophies. it was simply about 3 see rembrandt’s Christ in the storm on the lake of Galilee at money. The Gerasene community could not deny the evidence of a man’s changed life, but compared to their lucrative business, 4 Adapted from Juliet Benner, Contemplative Vision, A guide to the man’s restoration wasn’t worth the price. if we are serious Christian Art and prayer (downers Grove: interVarsity Press, 2011), 80-84.
about the business of redeeming lives, it will cost the citizens of a 5 Green, The gospel of luke, 333.
community their attachment to idols. Paul faced the same issue 6 special thanks to Karen downing for these insights.
in ephesus in Acts 19. when the gospel poses a severe threat to 7 ray C. stedman, Why are you Afraid (2010) www.raystedman.org the booming business of idol making, demetrius puts the issue 8 John t. Carroll, luke, A Commentary (Ntl; louisville: westminster John Knox Press, 2012), 192-193.
“Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth.
9 Pixner, With Jesus Through galilee, 43.
And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost
10 rikki e. watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark (tübingen: mohr all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great
many people, saying that gods made with hands are not
11 watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus, 161.
gods” (Acts 19:25–26).
12 The chart is adapted from Green, The gospel of luke, 336. At least he was honest enough to admit the real issue. Greed 13 Pixner, With Jeszus Through galilee, 46.
6. The key to growth is not numbers, but an authentic life. – As
we look at our culture with its increasing hostility to the gospel and Christian values, it is easy to get discouraged. But our text teaches that in the kingdom we are not to look at the initial response to 2013 peninsula Bible Church Cupertino the gospel as a measure of success. All we need is one authentic 5 This message from scripture was preached at Peninsula Bible Church Cupertino on sunday, April 14th, 2013. PBCC is located at 10601 N Blaney Ave, Cupertino, CA 95014. tel (408) 366 6690. website: www.pbcc.org.
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