As National Poetry Month has ended, we return to the Book of Luke for our look at the Bible. As mentioned before, this is a study that I’m doing for two reasons. First, I’ve never read through the whole Bible before and figure it’s a good idea as a Christian in general to understand it on my own terms in it’s entirety. Second, is it really as misogynistic a text as people say it is? So far, no, but we still have a ways to go that includes that most often given verse against women anyway. I’ve already posted on the Law back in those books and chapters and the areas that I definitely agree are misogynistic and where I think people have either taken a leap or fail to understand the situation as a whole. Also, there are many places where traditional interpretations didn’t seem to match the way the story itself is written and has such proven the need for study on it’s own.
For the text of Luke 8, click here. As one of the synoptics, we will also continue looking at what the other gospels say about the overlapping passages.
Chapter eight opens with a specific mention of some of the women that were following and supporting Jesus during this time. The first one mentioned is Mary Magdalene, so called because she was from Magda, and referenced as the woman who had seven demons cast out. A lot of people also refer to her as the sinful woman or a prior prostitute that was forgiven by Jesus. There is mention that this connection was made by “later church writers” in my study Bible but doesn’t seem supported here. There’s no specific reference to that and though the passage about the sinful woman was just in the prior chapter, that doesn’t mean that it was her and not one of the many other unnamed women especially since she was just named here. I grew up hearing about her as a former prostitute but nothing actually supports that idea that I can find. Even the Wikipedia article on her talks about the many times that her name has been attached to stories and later found to not have belonged to her.
There is “Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager”. It’s interesting that she’s associated with her husband this way because it is the only mention there is of him. She’s mentioned again, but later and we’ll get to that. For now, Joanna is simply named as one of the women who travelled with Jesus along with the apostles. Her Wikipedia article also mentions as the wife of someone high up in court as the household manager would have been, she would have had the means for the travel and support this says she provided. The study section of my Bible doesn’t have anything at all about her, which I found disappointing.
The final named woman here is Susanna, who is also not mentioned in the study section and doesn’t have much of a Wikipedia article either. It literally just mentions this passage. Nevertheless, Luke felt the need to specifically name her as one of the women supporting Jesus. It make me wonder if these three women were contributing the most or if their names were most memorable or recognizable in some other way? Some people just stick out when we try to remember them years later. Then it just goes on that there were “many others”. There is a mention in the study section that the feminine plural was used to specifically mean that there were many other women who supported Jesus and traveled with Him.
From there we come to the Parable of the Sower, which was also in Matthew 13 and Mark 4. It reads a little different from the others, but the overall intent remains intact. The explanation of what the parable means immediately follows. As before, the parable and it’s explanation are basically that God and Jesus will take root in different people in different ways, being discarded at some point by many but that it will basically be worth it for those who stay the course.
Following the parable is a reference to the way people don’t tend to put lamps under things once lit. We prefer to let a lamp light the room, and so is the same for knowledge. Though it sounds bad on the surface level, it’s about how ignorant people like to stay that way and people who seek knowledge have a way of always looking for more of it. So it will be for those who are ignorant of God or who seek knowledge of Him.
In Luke, this comparison is followed by Jesus’s mother and brothers coming to see Him whereas it proceeded the first parable in Matthew 12 and Mark 3. It’s the same as those renditions. They are looking for Jesus but can’t get to Him. Someone let’s Him know, and rather than go see them, He says:
“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”Luke 8:21
Next up is the story of Jesus quieting the windstorm. This is one of my husband’s favorites and I love the way he tells it. He actually got to preach on it as a guest preacher once and it was quite entertaining. The thing that makes it entertaining is the way he compares it to a child having a freak out while a parent is sleeping. It’s something small to the parent, but the kid doesn’t know any better, and the parent sometimes can’t help but be irritable, having just been woken up. It’s in Matthew 8 and Mark 4.
In the actual Bible story, they are all crossing on a boat to get somewhere and the storm hits while Jesus is sleeping. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to sleep during a windstorm on a boat, but I doubt that it missed Jesus’s attention that the boat wasn’t doing so well in the storm. He just doesn’t seem to have been concerned about it. He wasn’t bothered because He knew it was going to be fine. At least, that’s how it seems to me. Then they come and get Him, saying that they “are perishing” of all things.
I get the feeling of disaster when a boat is taking on water, I really do, more than most people might realize at this stage of my life, but again, Jesus is completely not bothered. If that were happening on any boat that I’m on, there wouldn’t be anyone still taking a nap. They run to the proven miracle worker and yell that they are all about to die. AND THEN.
Okay, here’s the thing, this comes off like yet another “hold my beer” moment and that’s a part of it. Jesus just comes out, yells at the storm and it all goes away. He gives them crap about not having faith, which looks to me like Him upset with them for freaking out at all, and then seems to just go away, maybe back to sleep. Honestly, if He went back to sleep that would really be the icing on that story. Still, I can see Him being irritable because they woke Him up freaking out and it took five seconds to fix. The passage ends with them marveling at how He controls the weather, which is a pretty big deal in itself.
Healing a man with the demons in Matthew 8 and Mark 5 is next. This is the one where the man is possessed by a “legion” of demons that Jesus casts out into a herd of pigs that turn around and drown themselves. The people ask Jesus to leave at this point, and He leaves.
The last story of this chapter is healing Jarius’s daughter. On the way to healing her is the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, presumably menstruating consistently for that time, who touches His robes. She is immediately healed without even speaking to Jesus but He still feels it and demands to know who touched Him. At first, Peter seems worried that too many people are closing in on them, but the woman eventually steps forward and confesses, to which Jesus says:
“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”Luke 8:48
While all this is happening, someone from Jarius’s home comes to tell him that it’s too late, but Jesus is having none of that. He goes anyway and returns her to life. He tells them not to tell anyone, but of course they didn’t listen because we know this story today.