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|This is the New King James text of the passages.|
Matthew 8:18-34; Mark 4:35-5:20 Listen
Luke 9:57-62; Luke 8:19-39
In these passages, we see the following events in Jesus' ministry:
Is this really the cost of discipleship? (Matthew 8:18-22; Luke 9:57-62)
|18 ¶ And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side.
19 Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”
20 ¶ And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
21 ¶ Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
22 ¶ But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
|57 ¶ Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.”
58 ¶ And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
59 ¶ Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” ¶ But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
60 ¶ Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”
61 ¶ And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”
62 ¶ But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
This passage is among a few in the Gospels that have caused people to misunderstand some basic concepts. We're talking extreme discipleship here in this particular passage - discipleship involving physically accompanying Jesus in his earthly ministry. Let's put this passage into perspective. First of all, know this: Salvation and discipleship are not one in the same. To learn more about the difference between salvation and discipleship, click here. Discipleship should follow salvation, but they are not one in the same. Second of all: to pass on the opportunity to physically follow Jesus to the death during his earthly ministry did not mean that these people declined salvation. Jesus had already chosen his disciples for his earthly ministry. Jesus, having complete foreknowledge of events that would soon take place, discouraged these late comers from becoming his disciples at this stage of his ministry. Many over the years have misunderstood this passage to mean that one cannot serve God without forsaking family. That takes this passage out of context; that's not taught here. What is taught is that Jesus' time on earth was short; he had no home; those who follow him (literally accompany him in his journeys) at this point would be called upon to make huge personal sacrifices to follow him to his death. Here's an important concept on serving God: When God requires it, he gives you the grace to offer it.
I'm reminded of an Old Testament example to reinforce this concept. In Judges 6-7 (see notes), we find the story of Gideon - raised up by God to deliver Israel from the oppression of the Midianites. When the Midianites raise their fighting force against Israel, Gideon does likewise by raising an army of 32,000 Israeli soldiers. God wants Israel to see a miracle; a victory with an army of 32,000 will cause the Israelites to believe they did it by their own power. Gideon makes the first cut by simply offering an exemption to those soldiers who are afraid; 22,000 leave. Of the remaining 10,000 willing soldiers, Gideon gives them a test which pares the number down to 300. So, what about the 31,700 who were willing, but not chosen for this mission against the Midianites? They weren't bad people; they didn't hate God, Gideon or Israel; they just weren't right for this mission. Now...understand the call to discipleship during the earthly ministry of Jesus in light of this concept. We are not told that these people who declined this opportunity for discipleship here were bad people; they simply did not have what it takes to follow Jesus to his death. The word "fit" in Luke 9:62 comes from the Greek adjective "euthetos" meaning "well suited." Those with family obligations were not "well suited" for the mission at hand. As a matter of fact, I'm reminded of Mark 14:50, "And they all forsook him, and fled." After the garden incident, none of Jesus' disciples stood with him. If the statements of Jesus discouraging new disciples here seems overly harsh, perhaps it is because Jesus was not looking for additional to-the-death disciples.
Jesus' mother and brothers send for him (Luke 8:19-21)
Also found in Matthew 12:46-50 and Mark 3:31-35 (see notes)
The sequence of this event is a little difficult to precisely place. Luke places it in his account just prior to the storm incident (see below), but it is not tied to that incident in time frame inasmuch as Luke 8:22 begins with, "Now it happened, on a certain day..." Based upon that phrase, Luke is not declaring any specific sequence. Nevertheless, all three synoptic accounts have been placed here and with the sequence of events in Matthew and Mark (see the notes by clicking here). Both passages take place within the same time frame, but Matthew and Mark list it as taking place at the conclusion of a challenge by the Pharisees. Both could have taken place within the space of a few hours.
|46 ¶ While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.
47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 ¶ But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”
49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!
50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
|31 ¶ Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him.
32 And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.”
33 ¶ But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?”
34 And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!
35 For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.”
|19 ¶ Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd.
20 And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.”
21 ¶ But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
When Mary and Mary's other sons, the brothers of Jesus, come to where Jesus is speaking, he uses this occasion to introduce the concept of the Body of Christ. We refer to the Body of Christ as the church, a reference to all of those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their savior by faith. Jesus makes the point here that his relatives, as God in the flesh, Savior of the world and Messiah, are not limited to those are are kin by physical ancestry, but extends to all of those who accept him by faith.
Jesus calms the storm (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25)
|23 ¶ Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.
24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.
25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
26 ¶ But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
27 So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
|35 ¶ On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”
36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.
37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.
38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
39 ¶ Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.
40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”
41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
|22 ¶ Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out.
23 But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.
24 And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” ¶ Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm.
25 But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” ¶ And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”
This incident takes place on the Sea of Galilee in Northern Israel. Luke refers to it as a "lake" (Greek: limnes). This body of water is in the Jordan valley and is about 7 miles across (east to west) at it widest point. From north to south, it's about 12 miles.
This is an impressive feat for a man. But for God in the flesh...how could we expect less? This is just one miracle that separates Jesus as something more than just a Rabbi or "teacher come from God." He demonstrates power over nature itself. Mark goes into greater detail on this one than Matthew or Luke; he seems to want to impress his readers with the helplessness experienced by the disciples and their surprise that Jesus was sleeping through such a storm when they ask, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" All three accounts point out that Jesus "rebuked the wind," but only Mark records Jesus' exact words when he says, "Peace, be still." As stated above, this is the Sea of Galilee in Northern Israel. Since they end up in the place where the demoniac of the Gadarenes is located, we conclude that Jesus and his disciples arrive on the east side of the sea.
One more point should be made here. Notice Mark 4:40, "But He said to them, 'Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?'" How does being afraid of a storm equate to "have no faith?" Let's use an Old Testament example - to Genesis 22 (see notes), the account of Abraham and Isaac. God had already told Abraham that his seed would flourish through Isaac. Therefore, when God called upon Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham's faith in God led him to follow God's instructions without fear or doubting. Why? God had already promised that Isaac (childless at that time) would be the father of Abraham's descendents through whom the promise would be fulfilled. Abraham believed that God would completely fulfill his promise, so he wasn't concerned about the details of how God would do it. Abraham just exercised his faith in God. Likewise, Jesus had already told his disciples in Mark 4:35, "Let us cross over to the other side." The fact that they would make it to the other side had been established. So...why were the disciples afraid? Unlike Abraham, they lacked faith in the Word of God - prompting Jesus' words in Mark 4:40.
Two thousand swine commit hogocide (or sueycide) (Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39)
|28 ¶ When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way.
29 And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
30 ¶ Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding.
31 So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”
32 ¶ And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.
33 ¶ Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.
34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.
|1 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes.
2 And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
3 who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains,
4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him.
5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.
6 ¶ When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.
7 And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”
8 ¶ For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!”
9 Then He asked him, “What is your name?” ¶ And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”
10 Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.
11 ¶ Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains.
12 So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.”
13 And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.
14 ¶ So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened.
15 Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.
16 And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine.
17 Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.
18 ¶ And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him.
19 However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”
20 And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.
|26 ¶ Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee.
27 And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs.
28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!”
29 For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.
30 ¶ Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” ¶ And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him.
31 And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.
32 ¶ Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them.
33 Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.
34 ¶ When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country.
35 Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.
36 They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed.
37 Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned.
38 ¶ Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying,
39 “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
After arriving on the east side of the Sea of Galilee to a Greek-dominated region around Gadara, Jesus and his disciples come upon a man who is demon possessed. Matthew, who was probably the only one of the three writers who actually witnessed the incident first hand, points out that there were actually two men who were demon possessed. Mark and Luke just report the details of what happened to one of the two men based upon the eyewitness accounts of those disciples they later interviewed. So, while both men were demon possessed, Mark and Luke only follow up on one of the two demon-possessed men. Actually, to say that this man was demon possessed is an understatement; he is possessed by a legion of demons, a word indicating the presence of thousands of demons in this man. They had turned him into a wild man. Notice that these demons had no difficulty recognizing who Jesus was in Mark 5:7. Realizing that their time was short, these demons begin negotiations with Jesus, "And he cried out with a loud voice and said, 'What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.'" You must appreciate the humor of this story. That just goes to show you how filthy demons really are! There were about 2,000 head of swine. Jesus consents and sends them into the swine. Too bad, though, that the demons didn't think their request through very carefully. The swine just can't take it; they run down into the water and commit hogocide (or perhaps sueycide). That's killing two birds with one stone - the disposal of unclean spirits with unclean animals...and all in a day's work. Incidentally, that term "hogocide" was coined by the late Dr. John R. Rice, founder of the Sword of the Lord.
Mark and Luke, probably having heard this account from several of those present that day, go into some detail regarding the aftermath of this incident. Who were these pig farmers anyway...and to whom were they selling their unclean animals? Actually, the region where this incident took place was a predominantly Gentile area known as Decapolis. These people had no problem with the pig trade. They turn out to see the man (Jesus) who performed such a miracle, but then ask him to leave. Why? Mark and Luke report that the people were afraid. Someone there had just lost 2,000 head of swine. Miracle or not, Jesus was bad for business.
Notice the careful words chosen by the writers to describe the manner in which Jesus was asked to leave:
There's no question in their minds that Jesus is bad for the hog business, but they treat him with the utmost of respect after learning what he had done to 2,000 hogs. Incidentally, the previously-possessed man wants to follow Jesus as a disciple as well, but Jesus sends him back home to testify of what happened to him. As I said earlier, Jesus is not looking for more disciples to accompany him at this point. Subsequently, Mark tells us the man "began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him." Decapolis, as was mentioned earlier, was a predominantly Greek area east of the Jordan River in Northern Israel.