Thesis:The identification of Jesus as "Son of the Most High God" is fundamentally crucial to the disciple's "faith".
Introduction:The difficulties of getting human beings to relate to God as "believers" are "Legion". That we are told in the Scriptures that the disciples of Jesus were self-absorbed disbelievers right up to the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, in spite of being in the presence of the Master Disciple-Maker on a 24/7 basis for perhaps as long as seven years, is a not-so-silent witness to the difficulty of "faith".
However, it is only by "faith" that we can experience the Life of God. Therefore, as difficult as it may be, it is still the large imperative that sits as Arbiter of the quality of our experience. So we, as those who have been, like the disciples, redeemed by God unto God come to the Scriptures to seek the ways of Truth so that we may live.
Our search is complicated by many issues, but one of the more challenging is the change by God of His ways of dealing with us over time. For example, the two most "telling" methods of Jesus' approach to Self-Revelation Unto Faith (healings and exorcisms) are no longer on the front burner in His dealings with us. This is no small problem.
However, even with the "problems", there are some very basic things that never change. One of those is Jesus' identity as the Son of the Most High God. Some may ask (and I think rightly so) what difference that makes if His dealings with us change to a marked degree, but it is, nonetheless, the right place to begin. So, in Luke's record of Jesus' process of making disciples (it's not a soon accomplished task), we find him focusing on the unchangeable in the midst of the changeable.
I. The Confrontation in the Land of the Gerasenes.
A. Was set in the context of the transition from "terror on the sea" to "attempted terror on dry ground".
1. This is an ancient thesis that finds its culmination in Revelation 13:1 and 11.
a. This is the marshaling of all forces in opposition to "faith".
b. This is the record of the final period of human history in "unbelief".
2. This is the current thesis of Luke 8.
a. The disciples were exposed to the fundamental cause of their unbelief by means of the great storm: their fear of death.
b. The disciples were exposed to their delusions of safety by means of the demonic storm: there is no safety in being "on the earth".
1) In Amos 5:19-20 there is a graphic illustration of this delusion.
2) In our record, as soon as they hit "the land" a "certain potent man met them."
a) It's prejudicial, but, perhaps, helpful, to consider Matthew's record of this "event" as he gives it in 8:28 and following.
b) Luke's deliberate exclusion of Matthew's particulars does not lessen this reality: the disciples thought that it was their "location" that gave them the safety they were seeking instead of their "association" with Jesus.
i. The reason for this is clear: they do notknow their "Associate" but they dothink they know where "safety" is.
ii. The unacceptability of this absolute, but not an easy transition.
3) The strength of the delusion is not hard to find: the spiritual realm is very easy to dismiss in a pragmatic, material world.
4) The confrontation gives the "lie" to their delusion on the same basis as the storm at sea: fear of physical suffering/death.
B. Was set in the context of Luke's description of "the potent man".
1. Luke says he was "from the city".
a. This is pump-priming for Jesus' instruction to him in 8:39.
1) This has a direct relationship to 4:43.
2) This has a probable relationship to Mark 5:20/7:31.
b. This is even more fundamental in terms of basic biblical themes.
1) In the Scripture, "the city" is a very major theme that finds its culmination in Revelation 21.
a) This "city" has a primary focus: security through relationships.
b) This primary focus relates most fundamentally to the soul of man.
c) The point: fear is completely banished in the City of God where perfected Love reigns supreme.
2) In the Scripture, "the city" is a major target of the demonic activity of subversion.
a) In Revelation 18:2 we are given a vision of the destruction of the great city of humanity: Babylon (Babel).
i. This city is described as having become a "habitation of demons, and a hold of every unclean spirit...".
ii. This is the great antithesis to the City of God.
iii. As such, "fear" is the major method.
b) In Luke 4:28-29 we were told that the "city" of Nazareth attempted to murder Jesus (this was "demonic" but the people didn't know it).
3) In our text "the city" stands unidentified, lending weight to the simple fact that every "city" is like this one.
c. This means that Luke is taking on the real issue: the subversion of the soul in its attempt to find security in godless relationships.
1) Luke is dealing with disciple-making.
2) Jesus is dealing with the real issues.
2. Luke says he was "having demons".
a. As the record unfolds, we discover just how great is this problem.
b. But at the outset, Luke is simply telling us how Jesus continuously compelled His disciples to focus upon His identity.
1) He compelled it on the sea.
2) He compelled it by the words of the demons.
a) In a sense this is a puzzle.
i. In 4:41 it is obvious that Jesus does not wish for their "declaration".
ii. In Acts 16:16-17 it is obvious that Paul did not wish for their "declaration".
iii. But Luke's record is deliberately focused upon the demons' knowledge in contrast with the disciples' ignorance in 8:25.
b) But the larger picture is the New Testament apologetic: Jesus is the Mighty One, both aspects of creation know it, and the disciples need to learn it.
II. The Significance to Us.
A. How God chooses to act in our individual cases is one thing, and it is important to our "faith".