Luke 8:22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, Let us go over to the other side of the lake.
The Sea of Galilee is only eight miles wide, but the disciples may have never been to the other side. It was Gentile territory and was normally avoided. But Jesus wanted to go there, and as they went, he fell asleep. Then a storm arose that nearly swamped their boat. So they woke Jesus up and said, don’t you care if we drown? (Mark 4:38).
In various forms, this question has been asked by Christians throughout the ages. As long as the waters are calm, we are convinced that God is taking care of us. But the moment we enter a storm, our hearts begin to accuse. Don’t you care that I am unemployed? Don’t you care that I am losing my house? Don’t you care that my child is sick?
But storms are also an opportunity for Jesus to reveal his power. So He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm (Luke 8:24).
I got on the freeway, years ago, and hit a patch of ice. Suddenly I was going sideways. Then I was going backward. Then I was going sideways again. Then I was going forward. I did a complete circle, in regular traffic, at fifty miles an hour—and ended up going in the same direction. It was like nothing even happened, except my heart was beating twice as fast. It is surprising how quickly we can find ourselves in trouble, and how quickly the Lord can turn things around.
Luke 8:25 In fear and amazement they asked one another, Who is this?
This little question occurs throughout the gospels to help us think more deeply about who Jesus is. Here we see that he is Lord over nature. Elsewhere, we see that he is Lord over sickness, Lord over death, Lord over Satan, and Lord over all. This is the Bible’s conclusion, but we must come to it ourselves. The better we understand the lordship of Jesus Christ, the more we will be in awe of him.
Luke 8:27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town.
From the various accounts we know that this man was chained, but had broken free, and could not be subdued. He lived in the tombs and refused to wear clothes. Night and day he cried out and cut himself with stones. He was so frightening that no one would go near him.
This is the most extreme case of demonic possession in the Bible. The moment they saw this man, the disciples probably wanted to get in the boat and go home. But this was the one for whom Jesus came. He did not come by accident, but to save this troubled soul.
Luke 8:28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torture me!
From this it is clear that demons can speak through people. Through the man’s brain and vocal cords, the demons begged Jesus not to torture them. This is surprising enough, but Satan can also speak through Christians. When Peter tried to convince Jesus not to go to the cross, Jesus replied, Get behind me, Satan! (Matthew 16:23). If Satan can speak through Christians, we ought to be careful that he does not speak through us.
It is also interesting that the demons recognized Jesus. What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? they said. To the natural eye, Jesus looked like an ordinary person. But from the gospel accounts, it is clear the demons knew who Jesus was. I know who you are—the Holy One of God (Mark 1:24), they said. Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, You are the Son of God (Mark 3:11). The gospels contain more demonic conflicts than other parts of the Bible because of the presence of Jesus Christ.
Luke 8:30 Jesus asked him, What is your name? Legion, he replied, because many demons had gone into him.
A legion was a Roman military unit of six thousand men, so this man was host to many demons. Evil is not an impersonal force, and neither is good. Angels, demons, people and God are all caught up in a cosmic conflict between good and evil. The outcome is certain, but the battle rages on.
Luke 8:31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
Hell is such a dreadful place that even demons fear to go there. Many inhabit the earth, but some are in hell even now. [T]he angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day (Jude 1:6), wrote Jude. The demons in this story knew their day was coming, and they trembled before the one who would be their judge.
Luke 8:32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission.
As soon as the demons entered the pigs, they ran into the lake and were drowned. There were about two thousand of them (Mark 5:13), so the financial loss was great. Jesus might have been surprised by this, but he was more likely showing that a human being is worth more than two thousand pigs. Jesus would also show the value of human beings by shedding his blood on the cross for us. The least valued members of society are precious to God, and worth more than we can imagine.
Luke 8:35 When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind.
The townspeople were surprised to see that the crazy man was in his right mind. From this we learn that Jesus has power to heal the mind as well as the body. Since Jesus is the center of reality, staying close to him is staying close to reality. Our mental health is best maintained by sitting at Jesus’ feet.
Luke 8:38-39 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return home and tell how much God has done for you. So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.
This man’s story was truly exceptional. He was so possessed by the powers of darkness that he could not function socially. Then one day, Jesus showed up, and gave him back his life. Perhaps the people said, Tell us more, so he went into greater detail.
After the resurrection, some of Jesus’ disciples may have gone back to this town to explain that Jesus died for our sins and rose to give us eternal life. If so, they had a ready audience due to this man’s story. He did not own a Bible, or go to seminary, but he knew Jesus Christ, and was transformed by him.
Whoever knows Jesus Christ can talk about the difference he has made in their lives. The easiest way to do this is to think of your life in three parts: your life before Christ, how you came to know Christ, and how Christ has changed your life.
Before I came to Christ I was very insecure and lacking direction. But the summer after high school a friend helped me to receive Jesus Christ as Lord (Colossians 2:6). Ever since then, I have known Christ personally, and found great joy in serving him.
A testimony does not have to be long or impressive. It should briefly tell your story and point people to Christ. The purpose of your testimony is not to talk about yourself, but to tell others about your Savior.
Reflection and Review
Has Jesus ever calmed a storm for you?
How does Jesus restore mental health?
How has Jesus changed your life?