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Where Is Your Faith?

Luke 8:19 -- 39

Lesson audio

One of the great frustrations of the Christian life is this: your friends and family know quite well that you are a Christian; they see Christ in your life – and they just don’t care. They regard you as being reasonable on all subjects but that one. Just so you’ll know, Jesus had precisely the same problem:

And His mother and brothers came to Him, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd. And it was reported to Him, "Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see You." But He answered and said to them, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it."

(Luke 8:19-21 NASB)

Mark’s Gospel tells us plainly that they thought he’d gone off his rocker. They stand outside – waiting for him to come to them. The attitude is that Jesus is being completely unreasonable, but his family is here to straighten him out and take him home – for a nice cup of tea, dear. Heard this reaction before?

We know from later history that eventually they accepted him for who he is. But may I point out something you might have missed? Even being the mother of the Christ, the “theotokos,” the mother of God in the Catholic and Orthodox churches, is not sufficient honor to enter the kingdom of God. His own mother cannot remain in the kingdom of God – unless she “hears and does” the word of God. What, then, of the twice a month churchgoer? [1]

Christ, and not for the last time, proclaims the great divide. Those who are against him are condemned; those with him are his family.

StitchMay I give you an illustration? The night before I wrote this, my family and I watched the movie Lilo and Stitch. Stitch is a monster – literally – who finds on this strange planet a family to love him. It’s a fun movie – the kids enjoy the space ships, villains and comic relief. But at the center of the message is the Hawaiian word ohana. It means family; according to Lilo it means “no one gets forgotten, no one is left behind.” At the start of the movie Stitch is really a monster, but the longing to belong to family changes him. God intends the same for us. He wants all of us in his family. As we shall see, this carries with it some enormous implications.

The way to stay in that family, however, is clear and simple: hear and do the word of God. You must be instructed to know what to do; you must then have the will to do it.

Where is your faith?

Christ, having said that, now shows the nature both of faith and of the object of that faith:

Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." So they launched out. But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?"

(Luke 8:22-25 NASB)

The doctrine

Let us be perfectly clear of the doctrine we are teaching here:

  • First, Jesus of Nazareth, is God in the flesh – 100%. He is also 100% man.
  • Second, this same Jesus is the one who created all things that exist in this universe; he is also the one who sustains this universe by his will. Gravity works today like yesterday – because he wills it so.
  • To command the universe is his by right – and by power.
  • This power, in the form of his providence, is open to all believers who will come to him in prayer.
  • He answers those prayers within his will – his providence for his purposes; sustaining those who “hear and do.”
Christ’s purpose

It is obvious that Christ allowed this to happen; evidently for the purpose of instructing his disciples. Let us see what matters are being taught:

  • First, he is teaching them that they are not to be dismayed by difficulties. As a good teacher should, he first got their attention – by having the storm come up and threaten to sink the boat. This causes them to admit that they are having a bit of difficulty making the crossing.
  • By pushing them to arouse him, he makes them confess that they are in difficulties too great for them to handle. How often Christ does this with us!
  • And – after handling this difficulty – he teaches them again. “Where is your faith?” It is a necessity of the Christian life.

Let’s look at that last again. Do you see what he is saying? He expects you to expect him to provide all you will need – tangible goods, circumstances, “coincidences,” changes of heart, even a miracle if need be – to do his word.

Indeed, this is so obvious to him that he also gives the disciples another example: modesty when being honored. These men are awestruck to the point of terror. But Christ does not accept their praise; he considers the matter a small one.

One more little thing: see the Teacher at work. Mark tells us that there are several other boats hauling people across the lake that night. They see the storm being calmed – but do not hear the rebuke. Christ teaches us to rebuke our brothers in private.


All of this may not seem to have anything to do with this next section – but it does. The matter is relatively simple. Christ has called to the world, proclaiming the great divide. He has shown us that he has power over all things physical; now he will demonstrate his power over all things spiritual.

Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs. Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, "What business do we have with each other, 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 seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert. And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss. Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons implored Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission. And the demons came out of the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country. The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened. Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well. And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear; and He got into a boat and returned. But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying, "Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

(Luke 8:26-39 NASB)

Demons – then and now

This is one of those things that has changed with our modern world. In those days, demon possession was a commonplace thing. The demons themselves were thought of as gods, outside Jewish society. Demons had two purposes in those days:

·         To mislead all they could. Satan is their prince; the father of lies, the father of liars.

·         To dominate those they can – and frighten those they can’t.

In our day, demons are not a commonplace – except where they are. In third world countries, especially those with animist beliefs, missionaries will tell you tales of the power they have encountered. Demons now have two purposes:

  • To mislead all they can. Satan is still their prince.
  • To dominate those they can – and frighten those they can’t.

The difference today is simply in the misleading – in our civilization the thrust is that they don’t really exist (and hence the Bible is false).

What can we learn from this incident?

First – and obviously – demons fear Christ. It is the awe due to Almighty God. Even a liar can be frightened into the truth.

Interestingly, the demons seek to go into the pigs. Evidently they need a body if they are to exercise power in the physical world. This idea is the source of the myth that demons are nothing more than disembodied spirits of the dead. Ancestor worship revolves around this. In the time of Christ, “magicians” (i.e., those in league with the demonic) would actually sacrifice a small child deliberately – so that its soul would become a familiar spirit for the magician.

Magic and science

To understand this correctly, you must see the intense evil in having that familiar spirit – a demon who grants you favors in return for your worship. It is a betrayal of the human race, for Satan is our accuser. But the purpose of the magician is not to betray; he thinks he is doing precisely what the scientist thinks he’s doing.

How so? Both magic and science are based upon the paradigm of “if…then.” If you mix these ingredients at this temperature, you get that alloy. Both are trying to manipulate the universe – physically at least, and spiritually if possible. Science manipulating the spiritual is usually called psychology. Science depends upon the fact of Christ’s sustaining the universe – whether the scientist recognizes this or not. Science depends upon the laws of the universe being the same everywhere and always. Thus, if motivation works here, it should work there. If the familiar spirit obtains results today, he will always obtain results.

Note that neither of these two will tell you anything about what you ought to do – only what you ought to do to achieve certain results. But if there is no “I ought” there remains the “I want.” Hence Faust tells us that a sound magician is a mighty god. The purpose of magic and the purpose of science are now the same; to get what I want.

It little profits a man to gain the whole world if he lose his soul.


I leave you with three thoughts:

  • Who are those in God’s family? Those who hear and do the word.
  • There is no limit on what God will do in the physical universe for those whom he loves.
  • There is no force in the spiritual world which can deflect him in the slightest.

Choose well whom you will serve.

[1] Somehow I seriously doubt that Mary had this problem for long. The point is not one of intrinsic merit; none of us are righteous enough – but if you are a child of God, just what should you be doing? Resting on your laurels – or worse yet, resting on the laurels of Christ?

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