Stories with Luke Week 12:

"Fear Factor"

Pastor Terry Inman

06-04-17

 

Luke begins the second half of chapter eight with a violent storm. He tells four dramatic stories that feature Jesus’ power over natural, spiritual and physical forces. Only our creator can conquer the elements.

 

A slogan that reflects our mission at Harbor Light is “guiding people through storms into safe harbor.” We do this through ministries that rescue, recover, rebuild and release people into their spiritual destiny.

 

As I have often said, we have been in a storm—we may be in one now—or there may be one on our horizon. This church was facing a threatening tempest when I arrived twenty-three years ago. It was financial, relational and spiritual. God is so good, he calms the wind and waves.

 

Jesus is a storm chaser! In the rest of chapter eight he confronts a natural storm, a spiritual storm and physical storms. He exercises his power against natural forces, demonic forces, disease, and death.

 

A theme that runs though these storms is the “Fear Factor”.

We can expect storms but they should increase our faith factor. In these stories the disciples are confronting their fears and growing their faith.

 

As I read this first story imagine yourself in the same boat with the disciples? Experienced fishermen are overwhelmed by a furious squall.

Jesus confident of His Father and His mission is taking a good long nap.

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” (v. 22) He knew where he was going and knew he was going to make it! The disciples weren’t so sure.

 

So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. (v. 23)This was no small storm. Luke mentions “wind” three times. The word, translated “squall” here is actually “windstorm of wind”. These veterans of the lake were swamped by fear!

 

Recently we cruised the Sea of Galilee in a tour boat. The water was like glass. It’s hard to imagine this storm. But our captain said fierce seasonal squalls do suddenly sweep down on the lake from the surrounding hills.

Luke says, “The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” (v.24) I think they shouted, Master twice, more out of fear, than respect. Maybe they just couldn’t wake him up?

 

Fear is our first response in a violent storm. Our first week in Nebraska in the early seventies we found ourselves in a friend’s storm shelter waiting out a tornado that touched down near our small house. It was very scary!

 

Our fear factor is based on self-preservation. The disciples thought they were sinking. Mark’s account is even more dramatic. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
(Mark 4.38 NIV)

 

Fear like anger distorts reality. They were not just swamped—they think they’re drowning! There were—drowning in fear! They thought he didn’t care about them and their safety. The fear we have to confront in our storm is abandonment. Jesus where are you in this storm? What are you doing? Why is this happening? Are we going to survive? Do you care?

 

Luke says, Jesus “got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. Then he asked his disciples,“Where is your faith?” (v. 25) Again Mark is a little more blunt “He reports Jesus asking, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4.40 NIV)

 

They witnessed enough miracles to believe Jesus was the Son of God but it took a personal storm to learn to put their trust in him as their savior.

 

The rest of the verse is revealing, “In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” (v. 25) We know about God—storms help us know God!

 

It took a while for Jesus’ disciples to personally grasp who he really was.

In the next chapter he sends them out to preach and do miracles. When they return and John is beheaded. Jesus enlists their help feeding thousands. Then asks them, two questions, “Who do people say I am”, and “who do you say I am”. Peter says, You’re the Christ, the son of God!

 

Who is Jesus to you? Someone who takes care of you? Someone you turn to in a crisis or is he the Christ, your Messiah, the son of the living God!

Now let’s get out of the boat. The first person we meet on the beach is an outrageous man full of the devil. Now Jesus confronts an even darker storm. In fact this may be the reason for the turbulence on the voyage.  

 

Luke says, “They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee.” This area on the eastern shore, now called the Golan Heights was taken from Syria in the six-day war of the early 80’s.

 

When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” Luke 8.26-28 (NIV)

 

The demons know who Jesus is! James said, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.” James 2.19 NIV

 

They beg for mercy. “I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. (v.29)

 

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” This demon had a multiple personality disorder. “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. They begged him not to be sent to the Abyss. (vs. 30-31)

 

Abyss is a word for the deep bottomless chasm made for Satan and his hordes. In Revelation 20 an angel locks Satan down for a thousand years. Demons know their destiny. Matthew’s version of this says, “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Matt. 8.29 NIV

 

Speaking of drowning. Jesus told the demons to go jump in the lake. Deep dark bodies of water were often considered an abyss. “A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. (vs.32-33)

God doesn’t the disciples, just demons! This was not good for the pork industry but it is evidence that gentiles inhabited this area. Jesus ministry there was prophetic fulfillment. Isaiah said, “In the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan…For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.”
(Isa 9.2 NIV)

These Gentile pig farmers told everybody what happened. They found the man sitting at Jesus feet dressed and in his right mind but they were terrified. They asked Jesus to leave town, “because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.” (v.37)

 

They were more afraid of Jesus than the demonized man. Some of us are more comfortable with what Satan does than what God does.

 

This newly liberated man begged to go with Jesus. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to hang around these people ether. But Jesus says, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. (v.39)

 

The fear factor caused these people to reject Jesus. No matter that he had power over their demons. He was bad for the local economy. Jesus left a man with a powerful testimony in their town. Light was now shining in a dark place. Bye the way he didn’t tell him to preach he just said, “go home and tell them how much God has done for you!”

 

Back on the other side of the lake two more power encounters await us.

Again Luke mentions a welcoming and expectant crowd. (v. 40) Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, fell at Jesus feet. He pleaded for Jesus’ intervention for his only adolescent daughter who was dying. (v.42)

 

As Jesus is moving though crushing mobs, and older woman with a twelve-year hemorrhage, pushes in behind him and touches the edge of his cloak. The bleeding stops, Jesus says, “Who touched me?” (v.43-44)

 

When no one owned up, Peter suggested it was just the pressing crowd. But Jesus knew something powerful had happened. The woman was gripped by the fear factor. She knew it was a violation of the religious sanitation rules to be in public, let alone touch a Holy man.

 

Jesus insisted, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” (v.46) I’m certainly not Jesus, but I have felt the transmission of spiritual energy when praying for people. We are conduits of the Spirit.

 

Finally the woman, who had spent all her time and money on cures, fell trembling at Jesus feet. She told her story and reported her healing.

Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (v.48)

 

Her faith, her courage to defy religious tradition and touch Jesus overcame the fear factor! For Jesus, and I’m sure Jarius, this was an inconvenient interruption. For her it is was the end of a long storm!

 

Jesus was interrupted again with the report of Jarius’ daughter’s death.

They said, “Your daughter is dead, Don’t bother the teacher any more.”

Jesus said, NO FEAR! “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” (v.50) Darius and his friends had every reason to fear.

 

Jesus quieted the mourning crowd. He took Peter, John, James and her parents into the house. He said, “Stop wailing, She is not dead but asleep.” He wasn’t suggesting she was only in coma.

 

He took her by the hand and commanded, “My child, get up!”. Her spirit returned to her body and she stood up! (v.51-55) Luke says, She ate some food and her parents were astonished. (to say the least)

 

Let me go back to the disciples’ earlier question, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” After several storms he asked them “who do you say I am”? Storms cause fear and raise many questions. But Jesus is a storm chaser!

 

Jesus doesn’t say much in these stories but what he says is informative.

To the disciples afraid of drowning: “Where is your faith?”

To the man freed of demons: “Go tell how much God has done for you.”

To a courageous woman: “your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

To a grieving father: “Don’t be afraid; just believe, she will be healed.”

To a lifeless girl: “My child, get up!”

 

What is he saying in your storm? What are you doing with the fear factor? How is your storm increasing your faith factor? Who is Jesus to you?