Jesus and his entourage
Women in the entourage1Not long after this, Jesus took his ministry on the road, traveling from town to town and from one tiny village to the next. Wherever he went, he took the good news about the kingdom of God. He also took his 12 disciples, 2and some women he had healed and exorcised from evil spirits. One of the women was Mary, nicknamed Magdalene. She had seven demons in her before Jesus exorcised them.
3Then there was Joanna, wife of Chuza, who was one of King Herod’s administrative officials. Susanna went with him, too, along with many other women who were using their own funds to help financially support the ministry of Jesus.
Story of a farmer planting seeds4One day a large crowd started to gather around Jesus. The people had come from one town after another. When Jesus began to speak, he started with a parable. 5“A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he threw them in the air to scatter them onto the field, some seeds fell on the hard-packed path that people walk on. As the seeds lay there on top of the ground, birds swooped down and scooped them up.
6Some seeds fell on rock. They couldn’t get any moisture, so they withered away and died. 7Other seeds fell into briar patches. When the seeds started to pop up through the ground, the fast-growing thorns invaded their space and choked them to death.
8But some seeds fell into rich soil. When those seeds came up, they produced 100 kernels of grain for every one kernel planted. As he said this, he called out, ‘If you’ve got ears, you need to be hearing what I’m saying.’” 9
His disciples went over to him and asked what on earth that parable meant. 10Jesus said, “You are getting in on some of the secrets about God’s kingdom. But when I talk to the crowds about it, I use parables to describe it. Here’s why:
'They will look, but they won’t see a thing.
They will hear, but the words won’t make sense.'
12The seeds that fall on the trail represent people who hear the words about God’s kingdom. But the devil comes along and robs them of the message, ripping it right out of their heart. Without the message, they’ve got nothing to believe or to save them.
13Seeds that fall on rock represent people who hear the words about God’s kingdom and are happy to believe the message. But they believe it for only a short while. That’s because the message doesn’t take root in their life. When the storms of life blow in, the seeds blow away.
14Seeds that fall in briar patches represent people who hear the words about God’s kingdom. But the message gets crowded out by all the stuff going on in life: worries, making money, and indulging in all kinds of pleasure. The message never really gets a chance to grow on them. 15Now about those seeds that fall onto rich soil. They represent people who hear the words about God’s kingdom and embrace the message with open arms. They let the message sink deep into their hearts. They hang onto it with patient endurance—long enough to watch it mature and produce a good healthy crop.
Story of a lamp we shouldn’t hide16When you light up a lamp, you don’t cover it with a bucket or hide it under a bed. You set it up high on a lampstand. You do that to light up the room so people can see where they’re going when they come in at night. 17I want you to know that the light is coming and that everything hidden in darkness is going to come to light. All the secrets buried under the cover of darkness will suddenly be right there for everyone to see.
18Pay attention to what you’re hearing! If you want more, more will come. If you don’t want more, what little you have will be taken away.”
Jesus’ family pays a visit19Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him, but they couldn’t get through the thick crowd. 20Someone told him about it: “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”
21Jesus answered, “Anyone who hears and obeys the message from God that I’m delivering, those people are my mother and my brothers.”
Jesus does something about the weather22One day Jesus told his disciples, “Let’s go to the other side of the lake.” So they got in the boat and pushed off. 23As they sailed along, Jesus fell asleep. A windstorm swooped down on the lake. The boat started to take on so much water that it was in danger of sinking.
24His disciples woke him up. “Sir, sir! We’re going to die!” Jesus ordered the wind and the waves to calm down. That’s what they did. 25He asked his disciples, “Where’s your faith?” This whole scene left the disciples stunned and afraid. They asked each other, “Who in the world is this man? He gives orders to the wind and the water, and they actually obey him.”
Sending demons into a hog herd26They made land in the territory of the Gerasenes, on the opposite side of the lake from Galilee. 27As soon as Jesus stepped out of the boat, a naked man from the nearby town came to meet him. The man was demon possessed. He hadn’t worn clothes for a long time. And he didn’t live in a house anymore; he lived among the tombs.
28The man fell down in front of Jesus and screamed, “What have I done to you, Jesus, son of the Highest God? Please, don’t hurt me!” 29The evil spirit inside the man was responding to Jesus, who had already ordered the spirit to come out. Because of this evil spirit, the man had managed to get himself arrested many times—chained, locked up, and kept under guard. Yet he managed to break his chains and escape into the desert, driven there by the demon.
30“What’s your name?” Jesus asked. “Legion,” the demon answered. (The demon used that name because there were many demons inside the man.) 31They begged Jesus not to send them to the abyss, home of the demons. 32A huge herd of pigs was grazing on a nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into those pigs. Jesus agreed.
33The demons left the man and entered the pigs. Spooked, the pigs stampeded down the steep bank and into the lake where they drowned. 34When the pig herders saw this, they ran like crazy to tell everyone they could, in the countryside as well as the town. 35The people went out to take a look for themselves. They saw the formerly demon-possessed man sitting at the feet of Jesus. The man was dressed and he seemed to be thinking clearly and acting normal. This terrified the people. 36The people who had seen the demon-possessed man healed told the others about it.
37The whole story terrified everyone who lived in the region of the Gerasenes. They asked Jesus to leave. So he got in the boat and they sailed back to the other side of the lake. 38The man Jesus healed begged to go with him. But Jesus told him, 39“Go back to your home and tell everyone what God has done for you.” The man did just that. He told everyone in town what Jesus had done for him.
Jesus heals a bleeding woman40When Jesus got back to the other side of the lake, the crowd welcomed him. They had been waiting there all along. 41Just as Jesus got there, a man named Jarius, the worship leader at the village synagogue, dropped to the ground at the feet of Jesus. Jarius begged Jesus to come with him to his house.
42His only child, a 12-year-old girl, was dying. As Jesus walked toward the man’s house, the crowds followed him in a tight pack, with people occasionally bumping into him.
43Walking with him in the crowd was a woman who for 12 years had been suffering from a chronic flow of blood. 44She walked up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of his robe. In that instant, her flow of blood stopped.
45Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” Everyone around him said it wasn’t them. Peter said, “Sir, people are crowding in on you from every side.” 46Jesus said, “Someone touched me, and when they did I felt power going out of me.”
47When the woman realized she had been caught, she stepped forward, trembling. She dropped to the ground in front of Jesus. In front of all the people she explained why she touched him and how that touch had healed her. 48“Daughter,” Jesus said, “your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
Jesus brings a girl back from the dead49Jesus was still talking when someone arrived with tragic news for the worship leader: “Your daughter is dead. There’s no need to bother the teacher anymore.”
50When Jesus heard this, he told Jairus, “Don’t be alarmed by this. If you believe, I’m telling you she’ll get better.” 51When Jesus reached the worship leader’s house, he didn’t let anyone else go in with him except the girl’s father and mother, along with Peter, John, and James.
52Everyone at the house was crying and beating their chest in grief over the loss of the girl. Jesus told them, “There’s no need to cry. She didn’t die. She’s sleeping.”
53The people laughed at Jesus because they knew the girl was dead.
54Jesus took the girl's hand and said, “Child, get up!” 55Her spirit came back, and she immediately got up. Jesus said she needed to eat something. 56Her parents were absolutely astounded. Jesus told them not to tell anyone what happened.
Some Bibles translate Chuza’s job as “steward.” Some scholars speculate that he may have been Herod’s business manager in charge of his personal estate.
A parable is a story with a spiritual message embedded in it.
If Jesus was drawing this parable from a farmer in the area who was planting seeds as Jesus spoke, it was probably autumn or early winter. Farmers in the Jewish homeland usually planted their crops from October into December.
Jesus is referring to Isaiah 6:9, perhaps implying that his use of parables fulfills this 700-year-old prophecy.
See also Mark 4:25. Some Bible experts say Jesus is talking about people who accept his message and people who reject it. Those who accept it will get more spiritual insight and joy. Those who don’t will lose what little insight and joy they think they have.
In the time of Jesus, the Roman army unit known as a Legion was made up of roughly 5000 men.
Jews at the time of Jesus taught that the abyss was the underworld – the place of the dead (Romans 10:7). Luke presents it as the home of demons, too. The word is sometimes translated “bottomless pit.” It’s also linked to the depths of the sea, something Luke may have had in mind since the demons end up in the Sea of Galilee.
The child is described more literally as the “only begotten daughter.” “Only begotten” usually refers to an only child. But in this case it could refer to the girl as his only daughter.
Possibly heavy menstrual bleeding. One contender for the diagnosis is menorrhagia, a disease that produces excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding – or both. Some manuscripts add that the woman spent everything she had on doctors. A first-century collection of medical treatments, Natural History, written by Pliny, includes scores of treatments for the problem of heavy menstrual bleeding.
She had every right to be afraid. By Jewish law, she shouldn’t have been out among people because a woman is ritually unclean during her menstrual period. Anyone who touches her becomes unclean, too (Leviticus 15:19). They have to go through cleaning rituals, including a bath, before they are clean again and considered spiritually fit to worship at the Jerusalem Temple.
Many Bible translations have Jesus saying that the woman’s faith “has made you well.” The Greek word is sōzō, which can mean “saved,” “delivered,” or perhaps in this context “made well.”
The word for “spirit,” is pneuma, which is Greek for breath, wind, or spirit. We use this word when we talk about air-powered tools: pneumatic. Christians as well as many Jews in Jesus’ day taught that the spirit or soul lives on after the body dies. Some Bible experts say that Luke was reporting that the girl’s spirit returned to her body. When that happened, her breath returned as well, and she came back to life.
Jesus had an entourage that followed him wherever he went. There were women in this entourage—ladies who helped “financially support the ministry of Jesus” (8:3). It was unusual for a rabbi to have women followers traveling with him. Many Jews would have considered this inappropriate behavior. What do you think about it?
Experts debate how long Jesus ministered. Most lobby for anywhere from 1 to 3 years. However long it was, it was relatively short. At some point, King Herod’s administrative official, “Chuza,” (8:3) probably had to deal with the fact that his wife, Joanna, was a supporter of Jesus. Hours before Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus got taken to King Herod, who humiliated him. What kind of conversation would you expect Chuza and Joanna had over the dinner table during the ministry of Jesus? And do you think Jesus may have had this couple in mind when he said that he came to divide people against each other, splitting families apart: “From now on, if you have five people in your home, three of them will take a side against the other two” (Luke 12:52).
In the parable of the farmer planting seeds, there are two categories that seem pretty close to each other. Do you see any difference between seed group number one, in which the seed falls on a path and the devil snatches it up, and seed group number three, in which the stuff of life crowds out the seed? Both get robbed of the seed, and the devil could just as easily be involved in seed group number three as he was in group number one.
Jesus said the seeds that fall on rich soil represent people who hang on to the message about the kingdom of God and they “watch it mature and produce a good healthy crop” (8:15). What kind of crop do you think Jesus was talking about?
Would you put Luke 18:18, below, in your own words, as best you can? What “more” would you guess Jesus is talking about? It’s okay to guess here. That’s what Bible scholars are doing, because what Jesus is saying is not especially clear.
“Pay attention to what you’re hearing! If you want more, more will come. If you don’t want more, even what little you think you have will be taken away.”
Sometimes Jesus can come across as just a little bit flaky. Like when his mother and brothers show up for a visit. Instead of going out to greet them, he tells the crowd that “Anyone who hears and obeys the message from God that I’m delivering, those people are my mother and my brothers” (8:21). Could you try explaining how that is not flaky? Merriam-Webster says that flaky “means ”Markedly odd or unconventional: offbeat, wacky.”
When Jesus and his disciples are sailing across the Sea of Galilee and a storm threatens to sink the boat, the disciples wake up Jesus—who was apparently a deep sleeper. It seems perfectly natural to worry about dying in a situation like that. Yet Jesus seems to criticize them for it. He calmed the storm, then he asked his disciples “Where’s your faith?” (8:25). Don’t you think Jesus was asking a little much of them?
In the story of the woman who seems to be struggling with excessive menstrual bleeding (8:40-48), Mark’s version (Mark 5:25-34) says she spent all her money on doctors, in an attempt to find a cure. Does the footnote to Mark 5:26 give you any extra confidence in the reliability of the Bible’s reporting? Here’s the footnote: “A first-century collection of medical treatments, Natural History, written by Pliny, includes scores of treatments for the problem of heavy menstrual bleeding. After reading the list remedies, which includes crushed jellyfish as a topical ointment, it’s easy to see how someone could go broke.”
People who were ritually unclean were supposed to avoid contact with other people. Lepers were considered unclean. So were women during their menstrual period. That’s why the woman who was healed when she touched Jesus became terrified when Jesus discovered her. “She stepped forward trembling” (8:47). Yet Jesus didn’t say anything about that. He healed her and told her to “Go in peace” (8:48). What does that tell you about Jesus?
The odd story about Jesus curing a demon-possessed man by sending the “Legion” of demons inside him into a herd of pigs is full of questions that no one seems able to answer. What is the one question that comes out of the story that you would absolutely love to know the answer to? Here’s one possibility: What happened to the demons?
Why do you think the people in the territory of the Gerasenes were so terrified of Jesus after he healed the demon-possessed man that they asked him to leave? You would think they would want someone with that kind of power to stick around and heal other people wouldn’t you?
After Jesus brought the dead daughter of Jairus back to life, he “told them not to tell anyone what happened” (8:56). Luke doesn’t say why Jesus gave them such an impossible secret to keep. Any guesses why he did that?
LIFE APPLICATION. In the parable of the farmer planting seeds, Jesus describes four groups of people and how they react to the message about God’s kingdom (8:4-15). Without identifying anyone by name, can you tell us about someone you know who fits into one of those four categories?