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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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Luke 8

In this chapter, there is a unique glance at Jesus' ministry, disclosing certain women as financial backers of his ministry (Luke 8:1-3), followed by events common to the other of the holy Gospels: the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15), lessons from the lamp (Luke 8:16-18), spiritual kinship more important than fleshly kinship (Luke 8:19-21), stilling the tempest (Luke 8:22-25), the Gerasene demoniacs (Luke 8:26-39), the raising of Jairus' daughter and the included wonder of healing the woman with an issue of blood (Luke 8:40-56).

CERTAIN WOMEN WHO HELPED JESUS


 
Verses 1, 2, 3
And it came to pass soon afterwards, that he went about through the cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good tidings of the kingdom of God, and with him the twelve, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary that was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuzas Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, who ministered unto them of their substance.

Only Luke gives this glimpse of the part women played in supporting the ministry of Jesus. This must not be thought of as a small group. There were "many others" besides the three mentioned. These faithful women, from their own resources, ministered unto Christ and the Twelve.

Mary Magdalene ...
This means that Mary came from the town of Magdala, thought to be the same place as Magadan on the west side of the sea of Galilee, today called El-Mejael and consisting of some twenty residences, and pointed out as the traditional home of Mary Magdalene. It is built on the water's edge at the southeast extremity of the sea of Galilee. F1

"There is not the least bit of evidence, either here or elsewhere in the New Testament, that Mary Magdalene was an immoral woman." F2 The sevenfold demon possession and the serious physical or mental condition that accompanied such a condition do not suggest immorality; nor can the fact of her being included in this remarkable group of women who were permitted to accompany the Lord and the Twelve be reconciled with the allegation that this woman had been a prostitute. As Adam Clarke said:

There is a marvelous propensity in some commentators to make some of the women in scripture appear as women of ill fame. The opinion that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute is a vile slander. F3

There are seven Marys mentioned in the New Testament, F4 but this was one of the most signally honored. She was the first person to whom Jesus appeared after the resurrection and was entrusted with the announcement that Christ would ascend into heaven.

Joanna ... and Susanna ...
Nothing is known of these ladies, except what is said here. Joanna, whose husband was Herod's steward, may have been wealthy; and it must be assumed that Chuzas himself was friendly to Jesus, perhaps a disciple, indicating that the court of Herod Antipas contained followers of the Lord Jesus.

Preaching and bringing the good tidings ...
It is not enough merely to preach the kingdom of God; it must also be "brought" in the lives of its adherents. The glory of Jesus was double in that his marvelous words were always illustrated and made actual by his holy life.


 
Verses 4-8
And when a great multitude came together and they of every city resorted unto him, he spake by a parable: The sower went forth to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden under foot, and the birds of the heaven devoured it. And other fell on the rock; and as soon as it grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other fell amidst the thorns; and the thorns grew with it, and choked it. And other fell into the good ground, and grew, and brought forth fruit a hundred fold. As he said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER

This parable was commented on rather fully in my Commentary on Matthew, Matt. 1:1-23, and in my Commentary on Mark, Mark 4:1-20. This is, in fact, The Master Parable, being given and explained by Jesus as a pattern of all the parables, so that men may "know all the parables" (Mark 4:13). It has the distinction of being recorded in the first three Gospels.

It is perfectly safe to reject the opinions of scholars who object to finding more than "one point" in a parable. Jesus found and expounded a dozen points in this one! It is not clear just who started the intellectual fad that would deny any more than one point to the parable; but the knee-jerk acceptance of it by so many has elements of humor in it. For example, Hobbs prefaced his interpretation of this parable with the statement that "a parable usually illustrates one truth"; F5 and then presented at least half-dozen "truths" founded on the parable! Evidently, he could not decide which was the one truth. The scholarly prejudice against interpreting the parables allegorically, as Jesus did, and as he plainly indicated his followers should do, is so ingrained that some of them have even denied the allegorical interpretation of this parable by Jesus, making it the "mistake" of the early church, retrospectively interpolated into the Gospels by all three synoptics; and, of course, an error in all three! A plague upon all such unbelievers! It is a source of the greatest encouragement that C. E. B. Cranfield, one of the greatest of the modern scholars, categorically refuted the denials which would make the allegorization of the parables the work of the early church, saying, "Jesus certainly allegorized this one." F6

The metaphor of this parable is that of a farmer sowing grain in the old-fashioned manner, striding through the plowed field, scattering the seeds by handfuls taken from a bag carried over his shoulder, and spreading them in an arc before him as he walked. The hard beaten path along or through the field, as well as the thorns were common features of such a field. Such a scene as this has been witnessed by millions in all ages; but only Jesus our Lord ever viewed it in the cosmic dimensions set forth here. His explanation is as follows:


 
Verses 9-15
And his disciples asked him what this parable might be. And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to the rest in parables; that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And those by the way side are they that have heard; then cometh the devil and taketh the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved. And those on the rock are they who, when they have heard, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among the thorns, these are they that have heard and as they go on their way they are choked by cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. And that in the good ground, these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold fast, and bring forth fruit with patience.

It will be noted that Luke's account, though not as full as the others, is nevertheless effective. Here the same multiple analogies noted in Matthew and Mark are drawn by the Saviour. In fact, Luke more fully identified the thorns in their threefold character of riches, cares, and pleasures. To understand the parable in its fullest implications, it is necessary to read and study all three accounts.

Critical scholarship has more trouble with Jesus' words giving his reason for speaking in parables, "that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand," than with anything else in this passage. Some are simply incredulous that Jesus would have used a device specifically to blind and harden some of his hearers; but such was undoubtedly the case. The explanation is in Matthew, where that sacred author quoted at length from Isaiah 6:9,10, thus explaining the use of parables as God's means of bringing about the hardening of Israel, the parables, of course, not being the cause of the hardening, but the occasion of it. The real reason of the blindness and unbelief of Israel lay in the fact that they had "closed their eyes" to the truth. Summers missed the point altogether when he accused Matthew of elaborating on "the idea to the extent of quoting Isaiah," F7 that quotation deriving not from Matthew's "elaboration" but from Jesus' announcement of it in connection with his explaining why he taught in parables. Of course, erroneous Markan theory blinds some scholars on this, Matthew's account being original, older, and fuller than the others in this section. Furthermore, what is said of the parables here is true of the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was so designed that stubborn, willful, and self-deluded, hardened hearers of it will actually be destroyed by the holy Gospel itself. Paul said:

We are indeed the incense offered by Christ to God, both for those who are on the way to salvation, and for those who are on the way to perdition: to the latter it is a deadly fume that kills, to the former a vital fragrance that brings to life (2 Cor. 2:16, New English Bible).

There can be no wonder then that Jesus cried with a loud voice and said: "Take heed how ye hear!"

The dual quality of the parables: (1) enlightening them of right spirit, and (2) blinding and hardening the ones who were evil, must therefore be understood as pertaining to the entire Gospel itself. The same sunshine melts butter and hardens putty; and the same glorious Gospel saves some and destroys others; but the difference lies, not in the Gospel, but is found inherently within men themselves. It is what a man IS that determines, more than anything else, what he gets out of the Gospel.

For a list of analogies, and line-by-line comment, see the parallel accounts in my Commentary on Matthew and my Commentary on Mark.


 
Verse 16
And no man, when he hath lighted a lamp, covereth it with a vessel or putteth it under a bed; but putteth it on a stand, that they that enter in may see the light.

LESSONS FROM THE LAMP

By this Jesus indicated his true purpose of enlightening all men by the parables he was bringing. The blinding and hardening were not something Jesus desired, but a necessary result, a side-effect, of the truth's impact upon wicked hearts, As Summers said, "Jesus' main purpose in using parables ... was to make his teaching easier to grasp." F8 Thus, this verse has an application to Jesus himself; but there is also an application to Jesus' disciples. A true follower of the Lord, upon lighting a lamp, that is, by becoming religiously and spiritually enlightened through obedience to the Gospel, should not hide it under a bed, symbolizing either laziness or licentiousness; nor under a vessel, symbolizing the cares and preoccupations of life; nor under a bushel (Matthew 5:15), symbolizing business, industry and commerce; but he should display his light upon the "stand." The Scriptures do not leave us in the dark as to what this stand is. It is a local congregation of the Lord's church (Revelation 1:20).


 
Verse 17
For nothing is hid, that shall not be made manifest; nor anything secret, that shall not be known and come to light.

This too has a dual application: (1) to the fact that Jesus' purpose was to reveal the whole Gospel to men, not to conceal it, and also (2) to the hidden secrets of every life. These shall be made known in judgment; but more immediately, the choices men make with reference to believing and obeying are likewise great revealers of the secret hearts of men.


 
Verse 18
Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he thinketh he hath.

The person who has the honest and good heart and responds by faithfully hearing and obeying the saving words of Christ shall be given the riches of the kingdom, even unto eternal life; but the person who has an evil heart, even though like the Pharisees glorying in the law of God, shall have what they think they have (the word of God) taken away from them.


 
Verses 19, 20, 21
And there came to him his mother and brethren, and they could not come at him for the crowd. And it was told him, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. But he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these that hear the word of God, and do it.

HIS MOTHER AND HIS BRETHREN

There is no need to suppose that this visit to Jesus by his mother and brethren was due to any sinister purpose on their part. It is true that, at first, Jesus' brothers did not fully believe in Christ (John 7:3); but, as Summers noted. "There is nothing else in the Gospels to indicate her (Mary's) opposition to what he was doing." F9 Nor is there anything to the contrary here. As Hobbs put it, "In all likelihood they merely came to see Jesus and for no other reason." F10

The great lesson uttered by Jesus on this occasion was to the effect that spiritual kinship with the Lord through hearing and obeying him is far more desirable than any fleshly relationship.


 
Verses 22-25
Now it came to pass on one of those days, that he entered into a boat, himself and his disciples; and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake: and they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And being afraid they marvelled, saying one to another, Who then is this, that he commandeth even the winds and the water, and they obey him?

STILLING THE TEMPEST

The purpose of the Gospel authors in relating this wonder is apparent from the manner in which they closed the narrative (see also Matthew 8:27; Mark 4:41). It was their purpose to demonstrate the ground upon which the holy apostles hailed Jesus as a supernatural person.

The parallel accounts add significant information to what is written here. Matthew placed some of the words attributed to Jesus BEFORE he rebuked the winds and waves, indicating that a great deal more might have been said by both Christ and the apostles, in addition to the few key words given here. Mark indicated clearly that there were a number of other boats which attempted the late crossing to the east shore, thus providing additional witnesses to this wonder, and also stressing the fact that the Lord here saved not only the apostles but a great many other people as well.

This miracle proved the authority of Jesus over the forces of nature; and, for Christians who believe that Jesus of Nazareth was (is) the incarnation of Almighty God himself, the attempts to rationalize it are far more unbelievable than the wonder itself.

Rebuked the wind ...
This action on Jesus' part showed that in at least some natural disorders Satan must be recognized as able to work in such things. As Geldenhuys said:

He actually rebuked the powers of Satan which at that moment were active in the elements. The earth "and the fullness thereof" belong to the Lord, and he guides the courses of wind and weather. But nevertheless, God sometimes permits the evil one to exercise power over the forces of nature within certain limits. F11

Trench and many others have pointed out the same thing. See parallel passages in Mark and Matthew with their comments in this series of commentaries.

Where is thy faith ...?
Of course, a composite of the three Gospel accounts shows the following words were spoken by Jesus:

"Why are you afraid; O men of little faith" (Matthew 8:26). "Why are you afraid; have you no faith?" (Mark 4:40). "Where is your faith?" (Luke 8:25).

All of the clucking over which Gospel author correctly quoted what Jesus said is laughable. Of course, he said all of these things, a total of some twenty-one words; and even these must be viewed as a most abbreviated report of all that occurred and all that was said during the savage onset of the storm that threatened the lives of the sacred group.

Master, master, we perish ...
Exactly the same is true here. Each of the Gospels gives a different word in reporting the address to Jesus by the apostles. Matthew, Mark and Luke have "Lord," "Teacher" and "Master," respectively; but what is so strange about twelve terribly frightened men in the emergency of a violent storm using different words of address in their spontaneous and disorganized cries for help? And what is so strange that some would have remembered and reported one term, and another a different term? There is plenty of evidence that the apostles freely used all three of these terms of address to Jesus. It is only an ignorant, captious question which suggests that one, and only one, of these words, was addressed to Jesus on such an occasion as this.

But why did Jesus rebuke the apostles for lack of faith? In their fear of death they failed to demonstrate confidence that Christ was fully able to take care of them. It was impossible for that ship with the Redeemer of the world on board to founder, no matter what happened; and the Lord's followers today need to take account of a similar truth.

It is equally impossible for the church of Christ, the body of which he himself is the Head and Preserver, ever to be destroyed, notwithstanding all the forces of hell that continually assail it. F12

Let the holy church make sure that Christ the true Head is aboard; and if so, no matter what storms may rage against it the institution and all on board are assured of safety.

Before leaving the account of this miracle, it should again be observed that a composite of all that is written in the New Testament is the only source of fully understanding what happened. Jesus himself thus used the sacred Scriptures; for it will be remembered that during his temptation in the wilderness, Satan quoted certain Scriptures; but Jesus said, "Again it is written" (Matthew 4:1-4). This set the pattern for all who would truly interpret the Holy Scriptures. Unlearned preachers were once criticized for their reliance upon isolated texts; but Satan has achieved a breakthrough by his instigating exactly the same method among the disbelieving scholars of certain intellectual communities who have been duped into using a "proof Gospel" (Mark); and their conclusions based upon such a monstrous error are just as unscientific and unreliable as the postulations of some unlettered frontier preacher with his proof text. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).


 
Verse 26
And they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is over against Galilee.

THE GERASENE DEMONIAC

It is merely a psuedocon that Luke has "Gerasenes," whereas Matthew has "Gadarenes." One author referred to the whole district, of which the city of Gadar was dominant; and the other referred to Gerasa, the more particular location.


 
Verse 27
And when he was come forth upon the land, there met him a certain man out of the city, who had demons; and for a long time he had worn no clothes, and abode not in any house, but in tombs.

Reference is made to the parallel accounts of this wonder in both Matthew and Mark and to the comments concerning it in my Commentary on Matthew and my Commentary on Mark. Luke added the detail of the man's wearing no clothes.

In this series, several dissertations on demon possession have already been written, supporting the conclusion that: (1) demon possession was certainly a fact in those times; (2) it could be a fact today; (3) if it is not a fact today, it is due to the success of Jesus in destroying the works of Satan; and (4) there are too many unknowns regarding human behavior today to allow any dogmatic conclusion to the effect that such a phenomenon has perished from the earth. Again from Geldenhuys:

With the incarnation of the Word, the Son of God, the forces of the devil also, in order to oppose him as Man and in his work of redemption, endeavored to incarnate themselves in human beings. The Evil One, as it were, wanted to become a man. It is for this reason that demon-possession was such a characteristic phenomenon of the time when Jesus was upon the earth. F13

That such was indeed Satan's purpose would appear as a natural deduction from Satan's behavior as revealed in the Old Testament. When Aaron cast his rod upon the ground and it became a serpent, Satan's representatives at once imitated and reproduced, apparently, the same miracle, with this difference, that Aaron's rod-serpent swallowed all of theirs! (Exodus 7:12).

There were actually two of these demoniacs, as related in Matthew; but as Boles expressed it, "He who tells of the two includes the one, and he who tells of the one does not deny the two." F14


 
Verse 28
And when he saw Jesus; he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God? I beseech thee, torment me not.

It is rather fruitless to seek learned reasons why this demon-possessed man behaved as he did, especially from commentators who insist today there are no authentic cases of such a thing! Whatever happened here was real; and the three historical records of it contained in the holy Gospels are unimpeachable. There are glimpses of things in these records which are beyond the perimeter of human knowledge, such as, for example, the salutation of Jesus as "Son of God Most High." This is similar to the designation of God which was uttered by Gabriel in the annunciation, leading to the deduction that "most High" is one of the titles God frequently used in the unseen world. There is also a bit of evidence to the effect that the whole demoniac world lies in a state of dreadful fear and apprehension of their ultimate fate which demons freely acknowledge will be executed upon them by the Lord Jesus Christ. How strange it is that men seem to have no fear at all of the judgment so dreaded by demons. Men do not believe in the impending punishment of evil; but demons KNOW about it. There are lessons in this event which, if heeded, can benefit all mankind.


 
Verse 29
For he was commanding the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had seized him: and he was kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters; and breaking the bands asunder, he was driven of the demons into the deserts.

The demon ...
It is not clear why the possessing demons were referred to in the plural (Luke 8:27), but in the singular afterward, unless, as revealed a little later, there was a principal demon, the spokeman for all, and in some sense their leader. This phenomenon of one demon controlling others also surfaces in the case of the demon returning to the house from which he had been exorcised and "taking with himself seven other spirits" (Matthew 12:43-45).

Breaking the bands asunder ...
indicates the unnatural strength of the demon-possessed. Bonds and chains which restrained a normal man were ineffective.


 
Verse 30
And Jesus asked him, What is thy name? And he said, Legion; for many demons were entered into him.

What is thy name ...?
Jesus had already commanded the demon to come out (Luke 8:29); and the command was not repeated. Therefore we must disagree with Barclay that Jesus failed, at first, to cast him out. F15 The request of the demons that they should be permitted to enter the swine shows that they recognized the absolute necessity of doing what Jesus commanded. The question regarding the name of the possessed was not asked by Jesus "in order to procure power over the demon," but for the purpose of helping the afflicted to affirm and maintain his personal identity.

Legion ...
simply has the meaning of "many," a Roman legion of those times ranging in numbers from 4,000 to 6,000. Jesus did not, therefore, get the names of all those thousands of demons in order to be able to cast them out. As a matter of fact, Jesus did not ask the demons their name at all, but the name of the man; and the usurping demons responded, not by giving their several thousand names, but by the boastful claim that they were "many"! Therefore, how absurd is such a comment as the following:

Jesus seems to have shared the belief of the time that to defeat a demon it was essential to know his name. The "name" of a person possessed a mysterious power in itself so that to get hold of it was half the battle! F16

The critical schools have certainly overreached themselves by such "explanations." Is one to suppose that the demons cooperated with Christ by willingly supplying their names?


 
Verse 31
And they entreated him that he would not command them to depart into the abyss.

As Ash observed:

The demons recognized that when Jesus commanded they must obey, and that the abyss was the fate for which they were destined (cf Revelation 9:1-11; 11:7; 17:8; and Rev. 20:1-3). The ABYSS symbolized the chaos in opposition to which the world was fashioned (Genesis 1:2). F17


 
Verse 32
Now there was there a herd of many swine feeding on the mountain; and they entreated him that he would give them leave to enter them. And he gave them leave.

The servile condition of the demoniac world was never more apparent than in this plea that the Son of God should permit them to enter a herd of hogs. Not even THAT could they do without the Lord's permission. Contrary to all that might have been anticipated, Jesus readily permitted it, demonstrating that even a demon's petition God will grant, subject only to the limitation that the thing requested is in harmony with the divine will. Just why it was the divine will that a herd of swine should perish is discussed under the next verse.


 
Verse 33
And the demons came out from the man, and entered the herd of swine: and the herd rushed down the steep into the lake, and were drowned.

The ethical question raised by the Lord's permitting the destruction of this property is raised by some who wish to cast a reflection upon our Lord, but there is really no honest objection that may be raised. It is not necessary to suppose that the swine were illegally held, Jews not being permitted to own them; and, besides, this was Gentile territory; nor to suppose that Jesus could not have healed the man without permitting the exorcised demons to enter the herd. Of course, he could have cast them into the abyss, as their pleas admitted. Therefore it must be concluded that it was Jesus' will that the swine should have been destroyed through the instrumentality of the demons. Why? By permitting those malignant demons to have their will regarding the swine, Jesus demonstrated, once and for all, what is the true purpose of Satan and all his agents. God permitted the glimpse of this same destructive purpose of the evil one in what the devil was permitted to do to Job (Job 1:12-22). The calamities that befell that patriarch are justified upon the premise that God was showing to all men the malignant purpose of Satan and the true faith of Job. The same is true here, with the significant difference that swine were destroyed instead of human children, as was the case with Job. How reprehensible it is therefore for men to quibble about this, even charging the Lord with a capital offense for destroying property, F18 while blindly refusing to see that Christ has here given men a glimpse of their true enemy, Satan. Once Satan enters a man, or any society, the decline is swift, certain, and fatal.

Of overwhelming significance is the fact that it was not Christ, but the demons, who destroyed the property, just as they were destroying the life of the unfortunate man from whom they were exorcised by Jesus' all-powerful word. As for the sophisticated arrogance that would blame God for what God permits, such is both sinful and illogical. It is incredible that a scholar like Summers would deny this, saying:

What right did Jesus have to destroy the property of others? ... the simple expedient of holding that Jesus did not destroy them; the demons did ... is inadequate ... an unsatisfactory way of dealing with the type of detailed action involved in this event. F19

Of course, such an objection to obvious truth is inadequate and unsatisfactory. The acceptance of such a monstrous proposition would require men to blame God for all the natural disasters of history, such things as earthquakes, floods, droughts, hurricanes, and pestilences. The Black Death wiped out "the moity of mankind" F20 during the fourteenth century. God permitted it; is he therefore to be blamed? Furthermore, it is perfectly clear from Jesus' rebuke of the winds and waves (Luke 8:24) that satanic instigation of at least some of the natural disorders which plague humanity is an unqualified fact. Therefore, the blaming of Jesus for what these malignant demons did is to establish a pattern of thought which would blame Almighty God for every disastrous thing in his whole universe that God does not prevent. Such a view is absolutely untenable. Those who would impose blame upon the holy Christ must do so upon other grounds than any which appear to exist here.


 
Verse 34
And when they that fed them saw what had come to pass, they fled, and told it in the city and in the country.

Naturally, the destruction of such a considerable herd of swine would have been a prime topic of conversation; and thus the demons inadvertently advertised as extensively as possible the power and authority of Jesus. It is also understandable that people who were not inclined to seek spiritual truth would have reacted with hostility and rejection; nor may such a reaction be justified. There was the conspicuous healing of the depraved human scourge who had immobilized the entire district; and people of right mind and attitudes should have taken this into account.


 
Verse 35
And they went out to see what had come to pass; and they came to Jesus, and found the man, from whom the demons had gone out, sitting, clothed and in his right mind, at the feet of Jesus: and they were afraid.

In the presence of one who could so heal such a victim of Satan, the people should have been able to overcome their displeasure at the property loss; but, alas, they were not able.

They were afraid ...
As Ash noted, "All four miracle stories in this chapter of Luke note the idea of `fear'." F21 The sacred author was repeatedly demonstrating the grounds upon which those who really knew Jesus recogonized him as being superlatively above common mortality.


 
Verse 36
And they that saw it told them how he that was possessed with demons was made whole.

The eyewitnesses of the wonder described all that had taken place to the assembled villagers who had gathered to view the spectacle afforded by the erstwhile madman sitting clothed and in his right mind at the feet of Jesus, with strong emphasis, it seems, on the death of those swine. Oh yes, the herd of hogs; how easily are men diverted from that which is most important to that which is secondary!


 
Verse 37
And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them; for they were holden with a great fear: and he entered into a boat, and returned.

What an incredible thing it is that those people would not have seized upon the opportunity to have brought their sick and afflicted to the Master. Such blindness and short-sightedness are amazing. The rash request that Jesus should depart, our Lord honored at once; and there is no record that he ever returned. However, as the next verses indicate, he did not leave himself without witness.


 
Verses 38, 39
But the man from whom the demons were gone out prayed him that he might be with him: but he sent him away, saying, Return to thy house, and declare how great things God hath done for thee. And he went his way, publishing throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done for him.

The Lord granted the request of the demons, but did not grant this man's prayer. This was due to the fact of our Lord's making him a witness of the truth in a district that might otherwise have been without a witness. Jesus' command that the man should publish abroad the fact of his healing, whereas upon other occasions Jesus forbade such publication, was due to the different circumstances. There was nothing in this wonder that could be perverted to political purposes; and the publication of this miracle was focused upon the works of Jesus, rather than bearing upon his identity. Nevertheless, there was a most vivid glimpse of the Lord's deity:

"Declare how great things God hath done for thee." "How great things Jesus hath done for him."

This witness of Christ's power spread throughout the whole region; and later, Jesus healed a deaf-mute in one of the cities where this man had proclaimed Jesus (Mark 7:32). See my Commentary on Mark for discussion of that miracle.

ONE MIRACLE EMBEDDED IN ANOTHER

All the synoptics record the raising of the daughter of Jairus, along with the parenthetical wonder of his healing the woman with the issue of blood; and their agreement is not any evidence that all of these sacred records were derived from some single prior source, but proves that this is the way it all actually happened.


 
Verses 40, 41, 42
And as Jesus returned, the multitude welcomed him; for they were all waiting for him. And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus' feet, and besought him to come into his house; for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as he went the multitudes thronged him.

The miracle of raising Jairus' daughter from the dead has been commented upon in detail in both my Commentary on Matthew and my Commentary on Mark in this series of commentaries; and reference is made to them for many comments that will not be repeated here.

The scene of this wonder was Capernaum, or very near it; and Jairus was one of the respected managers of the synagogue which had been given to the Jews by the centurion (Luke 7:5). His prostrating himself before Jesus was atypical of his class and probably earned him the sharp disapproval of his peers; but such was the agony of his heart that he braved all the consequences of seeking Jesus upon her behalf who was dying. Nothing is to be made of the fact that one Gospel reported her already dead at the time Jairus came to Jesus, and another that she was dying. The fact that death had indeed occurred must be allowed in view of Jairus' peers having already proceeded with the funeral when Jarius returned with the Master. There was therefore some time-lapse between Jairus' setting out to bring Jesus to his house and the actual arrival of the Lord. The daughter was dying when he left and dead at the moment of his request of Jesus.

The mutitude welcomed him ...
contrasts sharply with the multitude beyond Galilee who had just thrust him, as it were, out of their borders. The wonder recorded here could have taken place there, except for the unreceptiveness of the people.

Multitudes thronged him ...
This shows the pressure of the multitudes upon Christ, making it impossible for him to move freely and causing a delay as he moved toward the home of Jairus. In such a throng, it was possible for the woman to touch Jesus inconspicuously.


 
Verses 43, 44
And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, who had spent her living upon physicians, and could not be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately the issue of her blood stanched.

This does not mean that any magical properties attached to Jesus' clothes, nor that it was possible for the woman to have been healed without the Lord's conscious willing of it.

And could not be healed of any ...
Luke was careful here to defend, quite unconsciously, the reputation of the class of physicians to which he himself belonged. He avoided, but did not contradict, what Mark said of the outlandish remedies the poor sufferer had to endure at the hands of doctors. Luke seems to be saying, "She had an incurable malady!"

Immediately the issue ... was stanched ...
The cure of the woman was instantaneous and complete. Luke here used a word, "stanched," more in keeping with a doctor's vocabulary. As MacKnight said:

It was necessary that the ministry of the Son of God should be rendered illustrious by all kinds of miracles, and that the whole people of the country where he lived, should have both the highest idea, and the firmest persuasion of his power. F22

In keeping with such designs, Jesus willed, not only that the woman should be healed, but that also the full knowledge of it should be granted to the multitude. With infinite tenderness, however, Jesus spared the unfortunate sufferer the necessity of confessing her pitiful illness while it still continued, but reserved her confession until she could make it with the joy and vibrancy of health restored.


 
Verses 45, 46
And Jesus said, Who is it that toucheth me? And when all denied, Peter said, and they that were with him, Master, the multitude press thee and crush thee. But Jesus said, Some one did touch me; for I perceived that power had gone forth from me.

Who touched me ...?
Here, to be sure, are the grounds of cavil. Did not Christ know all things? Why the perplexity here? Of course, there was no perplexity. Mark said, "He looked round to see her that had done this thing" (Mark 5:32); and it is certain that Jesus knew, not merely that some woman had touched him, but which woman had done so, as well. As Trench observed:

Elisha said, "Whence cometh thou, Gehazi?" (2 Kings 5:25); and God said, "Adam, where art thou?" (Genesis 3:9); and to Cain, "Where is Abel thy brother?" (Genesis 4:9); and, in every case there is a moral purpose in the question. F23

So, there was a moral purpose of the question here. Jesus would not permit this woman of such commendable faith to receive in secrecy, and by stealth, in a sense, the blessing which he willed that she should receive. Moreover, following her confession, he would extend the blessing to include salvation itself. Also, there would be the tangential benefit of giving the wonder the kind of publicity and publication which so great a cure deserved.


 
Verses 47, 48
And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people for what cause she touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.

Her fears might have resulted from the fact that, by such a touch, she had brought ceremonial uncleanness to Jesus, with some consequence of rebuke; but she was reassured in the most emphatic manner.

Made thee whole ...
may also be rendered "saved" (English Revised Version (1885), margin), indicating that forgiveness of sins was also extended by the Lord to this woman who had such faith.


 
Verse 49
While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the teacher.

Thus it is clear that Jairus' daughter had not been dead when Jairus left the house; otherwise, this message would not have been sent. Moreover, the contempt of Jairus' peers is evident in the blunt statement of his daughter's death and the equally blunt command to leave Jesus out of his plans. They said, in effect: "Look, the child is dead, Jesus can do nothing in this situation." How wrong they were!

Jesus at once moved to confirm Jairus in a faith that must have wavered in the presence of so colossal a challenge.


 
Verse 50
But Jesus hearing it, answered him, Fear not: only believe, and she shall be made whole.

Only believe ...
has no bearing whatever upon the great heresy of salvation by "faith only," referring, in this context, to the only option left to Jairus. He could either believe in Jesus and trust his power to raise the dead, or go about the sad business of burying his only child.

How dark was the alternative of turning away from Jesus. This man Jairus was a ruler of the synagogue, an office corresponding to "president"; and it may be assumed that wealth and social position were his. Life had dealt him flowers and sunshine until that sad day. His precious daughter, at the dawn of womanhood, lay a corpse; and what should have been the morning of life for the house of Jairus had suddenly become its night. He found the grace to believe in Jesus.

Nothing is more disgusting in the contemplation of such an event as Luke recorded here than the fanciful rationalizings of scholars professing to believe it, but actually denying it as anything remarkable. Thus, Barclay wrote:

They were sure that she was dead, but Jesus said that she was asleep. It is perfectly possible that Jesus meant this quite literally. It may well be that here we have a real miracle of diagnosis; and that Jesus saw that the girl was in a deep trance, and that she was just on the point of being buried alive. F24

This, of course, is the same crass literalizing of Jesus' words indulged by his enemies who said, "Will he kill himself, that he saith, Wither I go, ye cannot come?" (John 8:22). The factual history of this instance of Jesus' raising the dead is attested by three Gospels, nor was it ever denied as a fact until long generations after the event. For a discussion of death as "sleep," see my Commentary on Matthew, Matt. 9:24; and for comment on the reasons why Jesus made a statement which he doubtless knew would afford the Pharisees a ground of denying his miracle, see my Commentary on Mark, Mark, 5:39. It should be remembered, in this connection, that Jesus customarily spoke of death as a "sleep" (John 11:11), especially when he was about to raise the dead. Furthermore, the performance of so great a miracle under conditions where it could not be denied, was the trigger that set in motion his crucifixion. Here, Jesus was not ready for the crucifixion, which in its own time would take place, when his "hour" had come. That hour not having come at this time, Jesus freely provided his enemies with grounds of denying that any miracle had taken place, as in the next verses.


 
Verses 51, 52
And when he came to the house, he suffered not any man to enter in with him, save Peter, and John, and James and the father of the maiden and her mother. And all were weeping and bewailing her: and he said, Weep not; for she is not dead, but sleepeth.

Not dead, but sleepeth ...
Thus Jesus provided his enemies with a crutch to sustain their wicked unbelief; and which, if he had not granted it, would probably have resulted in their killing him then and there. It is also evident that the crutch was such that only a hopeless moral cripple could have found it helpful. The true fact of the maiden's actual death was so undeniable that only a mind maddened by the most antagonistic and frenzied unbelief could have accepted Jesus' words in a purely literal sense. When scholars follow the lead of those Pharisees in so understanding Jesus' words here, one beholds the real fundamentalism, such men becoming the true fundamentalists, a status most of them would vehemently deny.


 
Verse 53
And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.

Death is not such an uncommon phenomenon that one must suppose these people to have been ignorant of it; and there is no support of denying the fact here stated, except the improvisations of infidelity.


 
Verses 54, 55, 56
But he, taking her by the hand, called saying, Maiden, arise. And her spirit returned, and she rose up immediately: and he commanded that something be given to her to eat. And her parents were amazed: but he charged them to tell no man what had been done.

Maiden, arise ...
Mark here recorded the Aramaic words, the exact syllables our Lord used, "Talitha cumi."

Tell no man ...
This fits perfectly the purpose which lay behind Jesus' words that the maiden was not dead but asleep. The Pharisees were not to be pressed too hard at this time. Later on, when Jesus raised Lazarus who had been in his grave four days, they responded by setting about to kill both Jesus and Lazarus; nor can there by any doubt that they would have done so in this situation, except for Jesus' words that she was "asleep," and the caution here enjoined upon the child's parents to the effect that they should not tell the wonder.

The strongest presumptive proof of this miracle lies in the identity of the child raised. Jairus was the president of a distinguished synagogue; and the record of this resurrection was promulgated in all three synoptic Gospels within the lifetime of thousands of the citizens of Capernaum where the wonder occurred. Why was it never denied? The answer must lie in the fact that it was impossible to deny it. Satan, however, would exercise his option of denying it long after the event, when evil men would still need some crutch for unbelief. God indeed visited human beings in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Footnotes for Luke 8
1: F. N. Peloubet, A Dictionary of the Bible (Philadelphia: The John C. Winston Company, 1925), p. 379.
2: Charles L. Childers, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill Press, 1964), 489,
3: Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Whole Bible (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1829), Vol. V, p. 417.
4: William P. Barker, Everyone in the Bible (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1966), p. 229.
5: Herschel H. Hobbs, An Exposition of the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1966), p. 137.
6: C. E. B. Cranfield, The Gospel according to Saint Mark (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966), p. 158.
7: Ray Summers, Commentary on Luke (Waco, Texas: Word Books, Publisher, 1974), p. 93.
8: Ibid., p. 92.
9: Ibid, p. 95.
10: Herschel H. Hobbs, op. cit., p. 140.
11: Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1951), p. 252.
12: Ibid.
13: Ibid., p. 256.
14: H. Lee Boles, Commentary on Luke (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1940), p. 175.
15: William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1956), p. 118.
16: E. J. Tinsley, The Gospel according to Luke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), p. 92.
17: Anthony Lee Ash, The Gospel according to Luke (Austin, Texas: Sweet Publishing Company, 1972), p. 145.
18: Will and Ariel Durant, The Age of Voltaire (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1965), p. 120.
19: Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 100.
20: Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Philadelphia: Henry T. Coates and Company, 1788), Vol. iii, pp. 641-644.
21: Anthony Lee Ash, op. cit., p. 150.
22: James MacKnight, A Harmony of the Gospels (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1950), Vol. I, p. 499.
23: Richard Trench, Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1953), p. 208.
24: William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1953), p. 111.
25: Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 75.
26: J. S. Lamar, op. cit., p. 112.
27: John Wesley, One Volume Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1972), en loco.
28: E. J. Tinsley, The Gospel according to Luke (Cambridge: The Cambridge University Press, 1969), p. 70.
29: E. Bickersteth, op. cit., p. 147.
30: H. Leo Boles, op. cit., p. 138.
31: Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 76.
32: Ibid., p. 78.
33: A. T. Robertson, op. cit., p. 258.
34: H. D. M. Spence, op. cit., p. 11.
35: Ibid., p. 12.
36: Ibid.
37: Anthony Lee Ash, op. cit., p. 50.
38: Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 35.
39: Merrill F. Unger, The Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1957), p. 17.
40: Ibid., p. 18.
41: Anthony Lee Ash, op. cit., p. 51.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 8". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=lu&chapter=008>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  

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