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Fear or Faith?

March 13, 2022

Fear or Faith?

Passage: Luke 8:22-56
Service Type:

Faith or Fear 

Luke 8:22-56

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been exploring this thing called FAITH as we look at the ministry of Jesus. This began back in Luke 6 with Jesus’ sermon about what it looks like to be his disciple, and has carried on through the next several chapters. 

I had Jo Ellen read the same verses Nate preached about last week, because that sets up the three stories we’re looking at today. We’re going to see those soils played out in real time in the lives of real people, and maybe you can identify with some of them. 


22 One day he and his disciples got into a boat, and he told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they were sailing he fell asleep. Then a fierce windstorm came down on the lake; they were being swamped and were in danger. 24 They came and woke him up, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to die! ” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves. So they ceased, and there was a calm. 

The storm threatened to destroy the disciples, and they were completely powerless to stop it. A year and a half ago, my son and I were driving a 12 passenger van pulling a 38ft camper North on Interstate 380 about 3 miles south of Cedar Rapids when the Derecho hit. I am sure it would have been a lot more terrifying had we been on water like these disciples, but it was pretty frightening as it was. That storm rocked us around for 50 minutes while we held on for dear life. 

Some of these disciples are experienced professional fishermen who spend a lot of time on the water, and this was 100% out of their control. They are bailing water for all they’re worth, and by contrast Jesus is sleeping! 

You don’t have to raise your hand, but how many of you have ever wondered if Jesus was sleeping while you were going through a storm? If that’s you, I’m guessing you wanted to accuse him of not caring about what you were going through. But where is Jesus sleeping? In the boat! He was with them in the middle of the storm! 

They wake him up, and to their surprise, instead of grabbing a bucket to help bail water, Jesus stands up and tells the storm to knock it off, which of course it does. Then he turns to the disciples in verse 25, and says, “Where is your faith?” 

What does Jesus mean by that question? These people are his closest followers. We have the Twelve, (we met them back in chapter 6), and probably the women of chapter 8 (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Suzanna, and others) – if anyone has faith in who Jesus is, they do, right? They’re the ones following him, contributing to the needs of the group out of their own pockets. What does Jesus mean, “Where is your faith?” 

One commentator answers the question like this: “The faith in view here is not initial faith, but an applied faith that functions in the midst of pressure. It is a faith that has depth of understanding and can be drawn upon in tough times. It is faith that “kicks in” and recognizes that God is in control, even in the face of disaster. It is a faith that patiently holds fast (Luke 8:15) (Bock, 763).”  

In other words, Jesus isn’t saying, “why don’t you have faith?” He’s asking why they aren’t putting it to work. Are you forgetting that he cast out demons, healed the sick, raised the dead? In the parable Jo Ellen read for us, the disciples are the seeds on the rocks, who received Jesus’ words with joy, but when a time of testing came along, the storm was bigger to them than Jesus. Here’s the reality – if Jesus is in the middle of the storm with you, and he’s sleeping – that’s a really, really good sign. One pastor I was listening to this week on this said, “If Jesus is at peace about the storm – you can probably chill and enjoy his peace (Heitzig).”

The disciples in a mix of fear and amazement, look at each other, going, “Who is this guy???!” Jesus will come back to this question in chapter 9, verse 20. But for now, Luke answers that question with the rest of the story. 

Verse 26-33

Jesus is in Gentile territory now. He’s on the East side of the Lake – the non-Jewish side. The language Luke uses to describe this location speaks to a lot of uncleanness – pigs were unclean, tombs and association with death was unclean; not only that, the guy hadn’t been home, he hadn’t worn clothes – at some point, people tried to do what they could to help him by watching him carefully, trying to restrain him so he didn’t hurt himself or others, but even their best attempts to help (good or bad as they might have been) fell short. When the demons came on him in full force, not even chains could keep him down. 

This man, back to the parable Jo Ellen read, appears to be the seed who fell along the path, where the devil had snatched up any hope of salvation. He is as helpless about his condition as the disciples were in their storm. He is as powerless to change his situation as they were to stop the storm. Until Jesus shows up. The demons knew who Jesus was instantly, and they answered the disciples’ question: Who is this man? By saying: “Jesus, Son of The Most High God.” 

When Jesus asked the demon’s name, he replied “Legion.” That is a term that is used for groups of up to 5600 armed foot soldiers. Which tells us this is war. Jesus is outnumbered thousands to one, and he wasn’t the one whose knees were shaking. Jesus is outnumbered thousands to one, and the demons know he has the power to end them once and for all, right here and now. He commands the demons to come out, and just like the wind and the waves, the demons obey. Wherever Jesus shows up, darkness trembles at the authority and superiority of Christ. 

Luke 8:34 - 39 

Look at the responses to Jesus here. There is a lot of begging.

  1. The demons in 31 beg him not to torture them or send them to the abyss. 
    1. (Jude 8, 2 Peter 2, Revelation 9). 
  2. The crowd in 35 & 37 responds with fear and beg Jesus to leave. They have heard of what Jesus has done; his authority over demons, his ability to bring stability to a life that had been wrecked with chaos, and instead of acting with faith on what they have heard, they react in fear – “get out of here!” Maybe they just didn’t want to lose any more pigs. But they were gripped with fear and beg him to go.
  3. The man. “He had been uncontrollable, but now he is sitting at Jesus’ feet; he had been naked, but now he is clothed; he had behaved as a demented man, but now he is in his right mind. Luke presents the former demoniac as a learner, sitting at the feet of his teacher… He was a Gentile – an outcast to the promises of God, but now he begs for the opportunity to follow Jesus! He once was alienated from his home and his city – now Jesus returns him to his home and gives him an assignment to go tell his city everything God had done for him. (Green, 340-341)”.

He went from the seed stolen by the devil, to an honest and good-hearted soil that received and held on for dear life to the one who had saved him and became the first missionary!

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 tells us what’s happening here: [17] Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away (it’s not just gone, the old is at bottom of the lake), and see, the new has come! [18] Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. [19] That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. [20] Therefore (because we are a new creation, because our sins were held against Christ instead of against us; because the sacrifice for our sin wasn’t a herd of pigs – it was Christ himself), Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ's behalf: "Be reconciled to God." In other words, God will call the people of Riverside to himself using our voices! 

This is why River City exists! To be ambassadors, representatives for the glory of God! That’s the mission of every one of us who have believed the gospel: Go to your city and tell them what God has done for you! Instead of putting my sin in a bunch of pigs, [21] He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  He hasn’t let me be where he is just yet, but I’ve got a job to do while I’m here.

Verse 40-42. This situation is dire: “Come NOW, Jesus. We don’t have much time!” Luke implies in verse 42 that Jesus understands. He doesn’t even answer, but immediately starts heading away with the man named Jairus. But the crowd isn’t in such a hurry. Everyone wants to see Jesus, and be near him. 

The Super Bowl was a big football game not that long ago, and when you watch those big games, it always amazes me how the second the game is over and the players walk onto the field to shake hands and such, the big name players are instantly surrounded by cameras and journalists and sports writers. The players sometimes can’t even see past them to the other players they’d like to say hi to – no matter where they go on the field, this blob of cameras just sort of floats with them wherever they go. Cameras and recorders in their faces just hoping to get that soundbite or get that shot. 

That’s what’s happening to Jesus here. Verse 42 says the crowds were nearly crushing him. Then all of a sudden, Jesus yells “Stop! Who touched me?!” 

Imagine yourself in the shoes of the synagogue ruler. His daughter could die at any second. They are fighting their way through the masses to get to the house so Jesus can help them, and all of sudden Jesus pulls up and says “I’m not moving another inch until I know who touched me.” “Who cares who touched you!” Even Peter, one of the disciples, in verse 45, is like, okay, the Messiah lost his mind. Come on Jesus. Who touched you?

But Jesus insists. I’m guessing the crowd got quiet. What’s his deal all of a sudden? V46 “I know that power has gone out of me. Who was it?” 

And then there is movement in the crowd, and she shows up.  Verse 43. A woman who has been suffering for 12 years with uncontrollable bleeding, who had spent all she had on doctors and yet could not be healed by any came out of the crowd trembling. You know what it’s like to have a bloody nose where you’re always worried – do I have anything running down my face, or when you get back in the car after hanging out with friends and you realize you spilled some mustard on your shirt and never noticed – and for 12 years this woman has experienced that kind of embarrassment and shame. Her constant bleeding was not only difficult to manage, it had made her ritually unclean. 12 years. She’s been in quarantine every minute that Jairus’ daughter has been alive. 

She was as powerless to stop her bleeding as the disciples were to stop the storm, or the demon-possessed man to be free. She’d tried everything. But she had heard that Jesus could touch people and they were healed. She probably thought it might work in reverse – and it did! The moment she touched Jesus’ robe, verse 44, she stopped bleeding instantly. 

But she is trembling. Anyone she would have contacted while she was in the crowd, according to the OT Law in Leviticus 15, is now unclean for the rest of the day. By touching Jesus, she has passed her uncleanness on to him. That’s why she was so sneaky. So when Jesus demands to know who touched him, she comes out afraid, knowing she is responsible for making a rabbi, a teacher unclean. He said the power went out of him. She might have thought ”oh no. I broke the Messiah!” But Jesus invites her to tell the whole story in front of everyone. 

See the word used by Luke here to say the crowds are “Pressing in”, or “crushing him,” is the exact same word used to describe the seeds that fell in good soil but got choked out by the cares of this world. Jesus knows exactly what happened. I think he knew everything about her story already. But he wanted to know: Will she respond in the fear of man, choked out by the crowd and what they might say now that several of them are unclean because of her? Or will she respond in faith? 

What about you? I’d bet you’ve been in situations like this before, where you were pointed out as a Christian and you had the chance to respond in fear and downplay it, or respond in faith and tell your story. Some of you might have that situation right now in your school or your workplace. 

47 - 48 

Part one is that she got the opportunity to tell her story of healing. Part two is that Jesus got to tell the crowd, this is what kind of faith I’m looking for. Faith that doesn’t shrink back in time of testing. Faith that doesn’t get choked out by the fear of what others would say. Faith that doesn’t hide under a basket, but gets put on a stand in the middle of a crowd. Jesus didn’t say this woman “had enough faith to be saved.” He said whatever faith she had, has saved her. She is the seed in good soil.

Now there is someone in this crowd who is very uncomfortable watching this whole scene unfold. I can imagine the synagogue ruler this whole time trying very hard to be patient while Jesus is interacting with this woman. As a dad myself, I imagine him clearing his throat, biting his nails, cracking his knuckles, shifting his weight. You know what we do in Iowa when we are trying to leave, right? We let out a nice big, “Welp…okay! We, uh, should probably get going!”

But this man’s faith is being put to the test too. He has made a request to Jesus, and so far the answer has been “be patient. Trust me.” Those are the most difficult answers aren’t they? Wait longer. You’d almost rather hear a “no” than “wait”. But will he wait in fear of the worst? Or will he trust that Jesus knows what he’s doing, and patiently allow Jesus to answer his request in his own time. And then he got the worst news. 49 

I wonder if some disciples went, “ooof”. The delay has been very costly. Yet again, Jesus appears to be sleeping in the storm. Didn’t he remember my daughter is DYING! You can come back and talk to this woman later. LET’S GO!!! But Jesus hasn’t forgotten. He isn’t being slow. Will we trust his timing? 

50 -56 

Jesus tells them not to spread the news because his mission on earth is not to cancel funerals for the wrong reasons. You know that, because you’ve prayed for someone to be healed that wasn’t. You’ve prayed for that family member or loved one to recover from sickness or injuries and they didn’t. Jesus raised a few people from the dead, including this little girl, but they all eventually died again. 

Because listen, Jesus hasn’t promised to always deliver us from the trials like he did with these stories, sometimes he delivers us through them. He doesn’t always calm the storm. He doesn’t always heal the sick. He doesn’t always act in the exact timing or the exact way we think he should. But these stories are here in scripture to show us that nothing happens to you that is outside the reach of his authority and his power to deliver.

In all of these storms and trials, Jesus was right there, in the midst of the storm, acting at just the right time – even when it didn’t feel like the timing we would choose. 

These stories show us that Jesus responds to faith. He’s moved by it. He champions it. He stops the crowds to point it out. 

  1. Without faith it is impossible to please God.  (Hebrews 11:6) 
  2. When the Son of man returns, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8) He was looking for it when he was on earth the first time, and he’s still looking for it. 
  3. Begs the question: Faith in what? 

True Christian faith is anchored in the fact that Jesus has power and authority over all things, and that he is GOOD.  That verse in Hebrews 11 says we “must believe that he exists.” He is the King of kings, Lord of creation; he is the final authority over nature, over sickness, over life and death, over hell itself… and over my life! 

  1. If he’s not the final authority for all of the storms in life, then there is no hope and the storms of life and sin and death end up winning.  
  2. But if these stories are true, and he IS the final authority over all things, then “The forces [coming against you] may be natural, demonic, disease, or death; yet Jesus is able to reverse them all… Be assured that what he promises, he eventually will do. Know that God’s power is absolute. Death is not the chief end of humans, knowing and glorifying God is (Bock, 806).” 

True Christian faith is anchored in believing these facts about Jesus to be true. But even demons believe Jesus has power and authority over all things. It was the demons who recognized Jesus as the Son of the Most High God. Faith isn’t just a belief in a new set of theological ideas. Even demons believe in final judgment. Even demons believe Jesus died on the cross for sinners. Even demons believe that Jesus rose from the grave, but that knowledge alone doesn’t save them. 

So God either allows or causes trials in our lives to put our belief in him to the test. James 1:2 says we should Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. 

Can you and I hold fast to the truth that God is good, even if he doesn’t calm the storm, even if he doesn’t stop the bleeding or do things in the way or in the timing we think he should, even if he allows death and decay in the world? Can we hold fast to the truth that Jesus is in full and complete authority over everything, that he will never leave us or forsake us, even when it feels like he is sleeping? 

The answer is yes, we can! Why? Because he is good! How do we know? Because he willingly and joyfully took our sin on himself, paying the penalty for our sin and unbelief with his own body, his own blood. On that cross, in the midst of deep physical, emotional, spiritual agony, he cried out MY GOD, why have you abandoned me??? Jesus experienced separation from his Father there on the cross so that you and I wouldn’t have to. But he didn’t stay on that cross. He rose again, returned to heaven, and sent his Spirit to live in everyone who believes, so that He is with all of us in every trial you face, big or small.  

No matter what trial you face this week, Jesus is in the boat with you. If he’s resting, you can too. 

LETS PRAY  (Lord I Need You)



Darrell L. Bock, Luke: 1:1–9:50, vol. 1, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1994).

Green, Joel 1997. The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co

Heitzig, Skip, Luke 8:1-39 - Skip Heitzig, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlq_faqDrt0&t=2700s