Real Bible Studies, Luke 8

The Women with Jesus

Luke starts chapter 8 with Jesus rolling around the “cities and villages” with The Twelve and accompanied by women. They include Mary Magdalene, Joanna, identified as the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna. Luke tells us the women provided for them from out of their means. Luke introduces Mary Magdalene earlier than Mark or Matthew and provides a bit more information on her, namely that she traveled with Jesus and was a woman of means. None of the canonical Gospels give much insight as to who she was; the main details we get from the synoptic Gospels is that she had seven demons driven out of her and she sometimes hung out with Jesus. It was the Gnostics in their apocryphal Gospel of Mary who filled in most of the details on her, naming Mary as the chief apostle instead of Simon Peter, and implying she had a more intimate relationship with Jesus. The interesting inclusion from Luke is Joanna, who’s identified as the wife of Herod’s steward. Neither Mark nor Matthew mention followers from Herod’s household.

Parables and Their Purpose

Luke then provides the parable of the sower, and follows it with the explanation of the parables and doesn’t add much that isn’t in Mark, Matthew, or both. Jesus tells his followers that he speaks in parables to confuse those who don’t understand while explaining the meaning to his closest disciples. Jesus goes on to add the part about lighting a lamp and not covering it or hiding it under a bed. The only difference is where Luke places these within his retelling.

True Kindred

The same is true when Luke tells us about Jesus’s kindred showing up, but leaves out a lot of details. In Luke’s version, Jesus’s family shows up and can’t get to him because of the crowd. No details about them coming to try to apprehend him and Jesus doesn’t ask, “Who is my mother…” Instead, he says his mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.

Calming the Storm

Luke’s phrasing is often less specific than Mark’s. In relating the story of Jesus calming the storm, Luke basically says “One day he got in a boat and said ‘Let’s go across the lake.’” Jesus takes a nap, which is interrupted when his followers seek him out to let him know the boat is in trouble. Afterward, it’s his followers who are asking how he’s able to calm the waters.

Gerasene Demoniac

When they get across the lake, Jesus encounters the man possessed by demons among the Gerasenes. The basic details are the same as in Mark. Luke does not double the number of demoniacs as does Matthew. Jesus commands the demons, who identify themselves as “Legion” to enter a herd of swine, who rush down a hill and into the lake and drown. Luke has this witnessed by herdsmen, presumably those who had been herding the swine. It should be pointed out that the herdsmen were most likely Gentiles, since Jews were prohibited from eating pork. This, combined with the location, suggests the actual incident occurred during the Jewish Rebellion. Since Luke isn’t drawing parallels between the events of the Gospel and the war, his audience may not have made the connection.

Still, just as in Mark and Matthew, when the people arrive and see the man restored and fully clothed, they become afraid and ask Jesus to depart. He directs his disciples to get back into the boat and they head back across the lake. In this instance, Luke has Jesus encourage the man to speak of how much God has done for him. The man spreads the word about Jesus.

A Girl Restored and a Woman Healed

Luke concludes chapter 8 by relating the story of Jairus and his daughter. Luke makes this part of the story of the demoniac by saying it occurred as soon as Jesus returned from Gerasene. It’s interesting that Luke chooses to group together stories the writers of Matthew and Mark have used to suggest parallels with the Jewish Rebellion. Luke doesn’t change the main details and there’s little departure from the account in Mark, where the Temple official is named. As with the other accounts, while Jesus is going to Jairus’s home, a woman with a “flow of blood for twelve years” touches his garment and is healed. This leads to the same exchange in which Jesus proclaims the woman’s faith has made her well.

From here, the story runs almost verbatim from the account in Mark. Jesus has everyone except the girl’s parents, Peter, James, and John wait outside and he tells her to wake up, which she does. Jesus tells her parents to feed her and not tell anyone what they have witnessed.

Leave a Reply