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
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)
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?
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?
and not for the last time, proclaims the great divide. Those who are against
him are condemned; those with him are his family.
May 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.
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.
is your faith?
having said that, now shows the nature both of faith and of the object of that
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)
us be perfectly clear of the doctrine we are teaching here:
Jesus of Nazareth, is God in the flesh – 100%. He is also 100% man.
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.
command the universe is his by right – and by power.
power, in the form of his providence, is open to all believers who will
come to him in prayer.
answers those prayers within his will – his providence for his purposes;
sustaining those who “hear and do.”
is obvious that Christ allowed this to happen; evidently for the purpose of
instructing his disciples. Let us see what matters are being taught:
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.
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
– after handling this difficulty – he teaches them again. “Where is your
faith?” It is a necessity of the Christian life.
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.
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.
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.
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
(Luke 8:26-39 NASB)
– then and now
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.
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:
mislead all they can. Satan is still their prince.
dominate those they can – and frighten those they can’t.
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).
can we learn from this incident?
– and obviously – demons fear Christ. It is the awe due to Almighty God. Even
a liar can be frightened into the truth.
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.
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.
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
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.
little profits a man to gain the whole world if he lose his soul.
leave you with three thoughts:
are those in God’s family? Those who hear and do the word.
is no limit on what God will do in the physical universe for those whom he
is no force in the spiritual world which can deflect him in the slightest.
well whom you will serve.