After the first few verses that tell which ladies were traveling alongside Jesus, Luke 8 becomes a kind of greatest hits mash-up of things we can find in Mark and some in Matthew, and the chapter feels less, well, Luke-ish to me.
But here we are (Luke 8:4-56), with the parable of the soils (or the sower), and its explanation, the light that should not go under the bowl, the arrival of Jesus’ family, the calming of the sea, the Gerasene demoniac, and the healing of a hemorrhaging woman paired with the raising of a 12-year-old girl.
And the thing I find fascinating about this combination is the contrast between the last two. A man who has been living with a legion of evil spirits disrupting his life is healed, the demons cast out from him (and sent off to a herd of pigs), and after being naked and bound and pitiful, now he is sane and dressed and sitting around with Jesus. Unsurprisingly,
The man from whom the demons had gone begged to come along with Jesus as one of his disciples. Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell the story of what God has done for you.” So he went throughout the city proclaiming what Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:38-39, CEB)
The woman who is bleeding tells what happened in front of everyone, and Jesus tells her to go in peace. Then he goes to the house of the sick young girl, and takes only his three most trusted wingmen inside, and he raises her from the dead.
Her parents were beside themselves with joy, but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened. (Luke 8:56)
So which is it to be? Do we tell the story, or do we keep it a secret? How can we tell the difference?
Maybe the trouble is that so many Christians tell the story of what God has done as their personal victories in the face of the storms and tragedies that are simply part of human life.
Your house didn’t fall down and your neighbor’s did? Praise the Lord! Your cancer disappeared, but your co-worker’s was terminal? Good thing God was on your side. Your child is on the honor roll, while your cousin’s kid dropped out and ended up in jail? Run tell the town how blessed you are!
No. No, no, no.
Today in the middle of so much bad news about the federal budget proposals, which will eliminate funds being used for those in need, we need the real Good News, which is not merely personal. It is for all of us. We need it as emotional and spiritual encouragement, we need it as a reminder of what Jesus was about in the world, and we need it as a spur to our own action.
Here it is in my words.
I believe that God loves us so much that in the person of Jesus, God became human. I believe that God cares *especially* for the poor and the hurting, the homeless and the hungry, the lost and the last and the least. I believe that although we are all sinners, that human beings brought about the death of the one who came to show us God’s love through his life, that despite the worst the world could do God shows us mercy, and that in Christ’s death and resurrection we are all covered by grace.
I believe that in response to that grace, I am called to “bear fruit worthy of repentance,” and what that looks like is serving the ones for whom God showed and shows special care and concern.
“Return home and tell the story of what God has done for you.”
Really. We have no time to waste.
Holy One, in the face of unholy cruelty to the poor and those in all kinds of need, give me the wherewithal to serve you in a way that is fruitful and effective, to share the Good News wherever it is needed, and to confess when I fail you. You have redeemed me and all people. This is the story of what you have done and are doing and, I pray, will continue to do. Thank you, thank you. In Christ’s name. Amen.
I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? The full schedule can be found here.