Thesis:The constant challenge is to "believe" so that we can be willing instruments in the hands of God.
Introduction:When Jesus decided to "take Sin on", He did not do so at a minimalist level.
When Sin erupted in the Creation, it could have been initially met with what the Bible describes as the way it will ultimately be met: fiery indignation and a total destruction of the adversaries (Hebrews 10:27). If God had decided to react in that manner in the beginning, an enormous amount of suffering would have been by-passed -- including His own. That He did not react in that manner is a matter that finds both humans and demons in constant resistance and turmoil. There is an enormous amount of opposition to Jesus' refusal to "explode all over the perpetrators of Sin" for one reason: it flatly declares that everyone in the picture, from the God down to the lowliest germ of a human being, is going to suffer significantly before the End has been accomplished. And it is this -- that suffering is going to be both significant and inescapable -- that drives all of those who have not yet dealt with their inner commitment to "be carried to the skies in flowery beds of ease" to scramble, indeed scratch and claw, to find a way to escape.
It is into this reality that Jesus stepped, not to simply eliminate Sin and those who pursue it, but to milk it for all it is worth in terms of "redemption and restoration". His plan is to so totally expose and defeat Sin that the boundaries of "Life" are, in a very real sense, demolished. To the degree that all of the possibilities of "Life" are kept shrouded in mystery, Sin is effective. To the degree that Sin is totally exposed and defeated, "Life" has unbounded possibilities.
When Luke determined to record Jesus' "discipling" tactics, he was not the least bit bashful about telling Theophilus up front that suffering is going to be significant and inescapable and that it is not "fear", but "faith", that is Jesus' target for development.
It is these realities that are at work in the text before us today in Luke's record of Jesus' exposure, and destruction, of Sin's power in the land of the Gadarenes/Gerasenes.
I. Luke's First "Point".
A. The disciples were significantly relieved to get back to land.
1. Luke deliberately chose to use a word to describe their "sailing" that he alone used in the New Testament and only this once.
a. The word was used in the secular world to describe movement off of the high seas to "land" (which was often called "home").
b. It carried a sense of "relief" to be out of less than desireable circumstances in favor of what was seen to be "more desirable".
c. It was even used of both fish and boats that were moving downstream in a river so that they were not fighting the current.
2. The implication is that the disciples did not relish the exposure of their lives to danger, nor of their egos to their unbelief.
a. This has significant overtones of meaning: the disciples were pretty much disinclined to be discipled.
1. They did not mind being a part of Jesus' popularity and doing whatever work was involved in hobnobbing with Him.
2. They did not mind being recipients of the beneficent power He could, and often did, exercise.
3. But they were not at all interested in the other side of the coin.
a) They wanted their "fears" to be unconfronted.
b) They wanted their "unbelief" to be unchallenged.
4. They did not want to "fight the current" or "endure the high seas' absence from home".
b. This also, however, signalled a rather foolish short-sightedness: the disciples did not know, and probably did not care, what "getting back to land" was going to mean.
B. The disciples' "land" was "opposite" to Galilee.
1. Again, Luke used a word our translators rendered "opposite" that only he used and he only used once in the New Testament.
2. The implication is that he decided to "metaphorize" the geographical reality.
a. The land of the Gadarenes/Gerasenes was, in most ways, hugely contrary to the Kingdom of God.
1) It had an "in your face" kind of "pig-based" economy that no one wanted Jesus to mess with.
2) It was a stronghold of demonic forces that produced a kind of spiritual "hurricane" that was dismissable because it was too "hidden from sight".
3) It was not at all interested in Jesus.
b. The land of Galilee was superfically its total contrast.
1) In Galilee Jesus was wildly popular.
2) In Galilee Jesus did not attack the economy.
3) Galileans only had to deal with "real" fears (like "hurricanes of wind"), not "hidden agendas" (like demonic "storms").
C. The disciples were simply "typical" people that Jesus had decided to make "atypical".
1. They were willing to "settle" for a great deal less than the best because they did not want to face the price of chasing the best.
a. In this they were at absolute odds with their God (they would be in the front lines of those willing to simply have sin and sinners eradicated -- Note Luke 9:54).
b. In this they were going to be compelled to endure until they understood the value of paying the price.
2. They had no clue as to what being a disciple of Jesus was going to mean.
a. On one side of this coin is this reality: Truth speaks to the greater longings.
b. On the other side is this reality: the present often demands to be elevated to the "critical" when it is not.
II. Luke's "Point" and Our Reaction.
A. God is simply not going to "cease and desist" on His agenda of bringing many sons to glory, so we are in significant danger.
1. Being faced with an "adversary" who will not yield on his agenda means one of two things: an intensification of opposition; or, capitulation.
2. If we harbor the "God is my adversary" mentality, we will only make the process for us more difficult.
3. If we "cease and desist" in our capitulation to our fears and give God the freedom to mold us as He pleases, at least we shall become "Gadarenes" in the good sense of the term ("the reward is at the end") and stop being faux "disciples" who are along for the "good times" ride.
B. The issue for us is our "definition" of Christianity: it is not about the present.
1. None of our wars with God are about real issues; they are all about a delusional exaltation of the foolish over the wise.
2. None of the promises of God are about creating a "pleasant" present; they are about "believing" while in an unpleasant present.