A sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 18 Dec. 2011
8:23 And when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.
8:24 And look, a great rumbling happened in the lake so as to submerge the boat under the waves,
but He Himself was sleeping.
8:25 So [the disciples] approached and woke Him up saying, “Lord save us! We are perishing!”
8:26 And He says to them, “Barely-trusting guys, why are you
Then, after standing up, He reprimanded the winds and the lake, and they became incredibly calm.
8:27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of guy is this, that even the winds and the lake obey Him?”
8:28 Now, after He came into the [area] beyond - into the suburb of the Gadarenes, two demonized men encountered Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were very dangerous men, so much so that no one was able to travel through that way.
8:29 And look, they cried out saying, “What is there between us and you, Son of God? Did you come here before appointed time to make us suffer?”
8:30 Now, there was at some distance from them a herd of many pigs being tended, 8:31 so the demons challenged Him saying, “If you are kicking us out, commission us to go away into the herd of pigs!”
8:32 And He said to them, “Go on,” and as they exited they went away into the pigs, and look, the whole herd made a dash down the precipice into the lake and died in the water.
8:33 Then the [swine-]tenders fled, and once they got away into the city they reported on all [these] things – especially the matter of the demonized men.
8:34 And look, the whole city came out for an encounter with Jesus, and conferenced as to how He might get transportation away from their coast.
8:23 Καὶ ἐμβάντι αὐτῷ εἰς [τὸ-B,C,f1,f13] πλοῖον1 ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ.
8:23 And when He got into a/the boat, His disciples followed Him
Mark 4:36 mentions that there were other boats, so perhaps the disciples followed in other boats. He also mentions that Jesus fell asleep on a cushion in the stern along the way. But they’re with Jesus.
8:24 καὶ ἰδοὺ σεισμὸς μέγας ἐγένετο ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ, ὥστε τὸ πλοῖον καλύπτεσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν κυμάτων· αὐτὸς δὲ ἐκάθευδε.
8:24 And look, a great tempest/storm/rumbling happened in the lake so as to submerge/ cover/ swamp the boat under the waves, but He Himself was sleeping.
This word σεισμὸς is never used anywhere else in the Old or New testament for a “storm.” It is usually used for an earthquake or sometimes a rumbling sound.
· The Sea of Galilee (aka Lake Tiberius) lies along a major fault line, so it’s possible that a seismic shift occurred under the water which created tremendous water turbulence.
· Note that it happened “en -in” the lake, not in the air “epi/huper/ana-over/above” the lake.
· However, the Mark 4 and Luke 8 accounts record only a windstorm (λαῖλαψ ἀνέμου).
· The situation of the lake almost 700 feet below sea level with mountains on every side apparently made for terrific storm conditions.
· Both a storm and an earthquake could have happened simultaneously to cause the kind of alarm that these seasoned boat-fishermen express.
· Jesus speaks to calm both the wind and the sea, not just the wind.
8:25 καὶ προσελθόντες [οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ-א,B,892,lat] ἤγειραν αὐτὸν λέγοντες· Κύριε, σῶσον, ἀπολλύμεθα. 26 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· τί δειλοί ἐστε, ὀλιγόπιστοι;
8:25 So they [His disciples] approached and woke Him up saying, “Lord save us! We are perishing!”
26 And He says to them, “Barely-trusting guys [oh you of little faith], why are you intimidated?”
There is a tremendous contrast between Jesus sleeping peacefully in the boat and the unglued disciples rushing around in the boat.
And the first words out of His mouth are a question, “What’s gotten into you?” All the major English translations use a form of the word for “fear” “Why are you fearful/afraid?” However, the word Jesus used is not phobos the standard Greek word for fear (from which we get the word “phobia”), instead He uses the word δειλοί. I think this is on purpose as an allusion to something in the Old Testament. This word deilos only occurs in three contexts:
1) The mustering of troops in which anyone who is too intimidated by the enemy is expelled from the militia: Deut 20:2-9 When you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the people. He shall say to them, “Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” The officers also shall speak to the people, saying, “Who is the man that has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate it. Who is the man that has planted a vineyard and has not begun to use its fruit? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would begin to use its fruit. And who is the man that is engaged to a woman and has not married her? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would marry her.” Then the officers shall speak further to the people and say, “Who is the man that is afraid and fainthearted? Let him depart and return to his house, so that he might not make his brothers' hearts melt like his heart.” When the officers have finished speaking to the people, they shall appoint commanders of armies at the head of the people…
· Then we see this applied in the history of the Judge named Gideon in Judges 7:3 – God kept getting rid of men from the army until Gideon had only 300 men left, and then these men, with faith in God, routed the Midianite army that vastly outnumbered them!
2) Then we see it in Jesus’ admonition to His disciples here on the lake (cf. Mar 4:40) before engaging in a spiritual battle.
3) Then we see it in Rev. 21:6-8, where Jesus says, “…I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
The allusion to the O.T. militia muster law is unmistakable; this is a call to faith so as not to lose heart in this spiritual war!
So what intimidates you? If you are struggling with someone or something that is shaking you up, heed Jesus’ gentle word, littleness of faith is the problem; understanding the vastness of Jesus’ authority will bolster your faith.
…τότε ἐγερθεὶς ἐπετίμησε τοῖς ἀνέμοις καὶ τῇ θαλάσσῃ, καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη μεγάλη.
Then, after standing up, He rebuked/reprimanded the winds and the lake, and they became incredibly calm.
epitithemi is a reprimand from a superior to an inferior.
· A father could reprimand his son (Gen. 37:10 LXX), and a man could reprimand a child (Luke 18:15), but angels do not have the authority to reprimand demons (Jude 1:9).
· Yet Jesus has reprimanded evil spirits (Luke 4:35-41) as well as a fever in Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:39), and now He speaks with the same perfect authority to the earth and sky itself,
· an act which God Himself had done once before to the Red Sea (Psalm 106:9 LXX).
· These anemos winds, by the way are the same winds that tested the houses of the wise and foolish builders in Mt. 7:25-27. They should never intimidate us because Jesus our Lord has complete authority over them.
Waves don’t stop immediately. They wash back and forth and take quite a while to settle down, but this was immediate and supernatural. Whatever seismic activity and meteriological activity was going on, it not only came to a screeching halt, the elements in the air and water themselves suddenly stopped vibrating as well at the authoritative word of the Master of the earth and sky.
8:27 οἱ δὲ ἄνθρωποι ἐθαύμασαν λέγοντες· ποταπός ἐστιν οὗτος, ὅτι καὶ οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ ἡ θάλασσα ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ;
8:27 And the men were amazed/marveled, saying, “What sort of guy is this, that even the winds and the lake obey Him?”
Here is the first response to Jesus’ authority over the earth and sky. It is the response of His disciples. It is the kind of response we should have.
· It should make us think about Jesus.
· It should make us want to follow Jesus more closely.
· It should make us stand in awe of Jesus and worship Him!
· “Oh Come let us adore Him, Christ the LORD!”
8:28 Καὶ ἐλθόντι αὐτῷ εἰς τὸ πέραν εἰς τὴν χώραν τῶν Γεργεσηνῶν ὑπήντησαν αὐτῷ δύο δαιμονιζόμενοι ἐκ τῶν μνημείων ἐξερχόμενοι, χαλεποὶ λίαν, ὥστε μὴ ἰσχύειν τινὰ παρελθεῖν διὰ τῆς ὁδοῦ ἐκείνης.
8:28 Now, after He came into the [area] beyond - into the region/country/suburb of the Gergesenes, two demonized/demon-possessed men met/encountered Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were very dangerous/fierce/violent men, so much so that no one was able to travel through that way.
· This place name gets spelled various ways in different Greek manuscripts. I kept the Majority text spelling used in the King James versions and found in some ancient manuscripts (L, W, f1, f13). A significant alternative used in the NAS, NIV, and ESV is “Gadarenes” from ancient manuscripts B, C, Θ and 1010. Mark and Luke’s parallel accounts call it the country of the Gerasenes.
· I could not find a unanimous opinion among Bible scholars as to the location of this place, but it’s generally agreed that this place was on the coast of the Sea of Galilee somewhere opposite Capernaum on the East side, which was settled by Greeks.
· Mark and Luke, by the way, only mention one of the demoniacs, but obviously if there were two, then there was one, so both they and Matthew can be correct at the same time.
· These demon-possessed men came out of the tombs, explain Mark and Luke, because they lived in those tombs. Creepy!
· The townspeople had tried at times to tie them up with ropes and bind them with chains, but they would just rip apart the ropes and burst open the chains.
· When Jesus asked for the name of one of the men, he replied “Legion,” because there were so many unclean spirits controlling him.
· Luke mentions that they had been this way a long time and didn’t wear clothes.
· Mark mentions that night and day they ran around screaming and cutting themselves with stones. What a miserable existence!
8:29 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἔκραξαν λέγοντες· τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, υἱὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ; ἦλθες ὧδε πρὸ καιροῦ βασανίσαι ἡμᾶς;
8:29 And behold, they cried out saying, “What have we to do with youNKJV/What business do we have with each otherNASB/What do you want with usNIV Son of God? Did you come here before appointed time to torment/torture/make us suffer?”
What insolent words! The rebellious angels show only the most bregrudging obedience and respect. That attitude is satanic in you when you feel it, even if there is outward obedience.
Rev. 20:10 indicates the “appointed time” will come when the devil and his followers will “suffer” in fire and sulfur in the lake of fire, day and night, forever.
This is not unjust. They have caused untold suffering in their sustained rebellion against God.
· We have already seen some of that in the terrible “suffering” of the centurion’s boy,
· and the “suffering” of the curse of pain in childbirth due to sin (Rev. 12:12).
· These demons may also be the same as the scorpion-like creatures that cause so many people on earth to “suffer” in Rev. 9:5.
This kairos moment – the right/proper time, the appointed or agreed-upon time, is referred to in the final harvest judgment scenario of Matt. 13:30, & 21:34-41. (cf. Mk 13:33, Acts. 1:7, 1 Cor. 4:5, 1 Thess 5:1, 2 Thess 2:6, Rev. 11:18).
· The demons are scared of this.
· In Luke 8:31, they say, “don’t make us go into the abyss.”
· They know that they deserve to suffer for their rebellion against God, and they are begging for a little more time to pursue their ends before getting punished.
· Do you ever find yourself that way? Doing something wrong, and instead of repenting right away, you find yourself hoping you won’t get caught just so you can finish doing that wrong thing?
· That is the absolute wrong response to the authority of Jesus – unrepentant fear which merely dreads judgment and does not stop and beg Jesus for mercy and salvation.
8:30 ἦν δὲ μακρὰν ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν ἀγέλη χοίρων πολλῶν βοσκομένη. 8:31 οἱ δὲ δαίμονες παρεκάλουν αὐτὸν λέγοντες· εἰ ἐκβάλλεις ἡμᾶς, αποστειλον ἡμᾶς ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ἀγέλην τῶν χοίρων.
8:30 Now, there was at a distance from them [a good way offKJV]a herd of many pigs/ swine feeding/ being tended, 8:31 so the demons begged/ entreated/ challenged Him saying, “If you are casting us out, permit/ send us to go away into the herd of pigs!”
The grammar of this sentence in Greek indicates that the demons have no question about the fact that Jesus is about to exorcise them,
but they do not want to surrender completely to Him:
· They want to stay in control of the situation, so they offer Jesus a suggestion.
· Have you ever offered suggestions to God?
· “God, how about you let us go play with those pigs, eh?”
· What was it that Jesus taught us to pray? “Let your will be done.”
8:32 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ὑπάγετε. οἱ δὲ ἐξελθόντες ἀπῆλθον εἰς τῶν χοίρων· καὶ ἰδοὺ ὥρμησε πᾶσα ἡ ἀγέλη κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ ἀπέθανον ἐν τοῖς ὕδασιν.
8:32 And He said to them, “Go on,” and as they exited they went away into the pigs, and look, the whole herd rushed/ran violently/made a dash down the precipice/steep bank into the lake and died in the water.
ὑπάγετε This is the same word Jesus spoke to dismiss Satan (4:10), the leper (8:4), the believing centurion (8:13), the paralytic (9:6), a Satanically-inspired Peter (16:23), the rich young ruler (19:21), vineyard workers in parables (20:4ff, 21:28), His disciples preparing Passover (26:18, cf. 28:10), and even Himself going to be crucified (26:24). “Go on”
This story is the only one in the NT in which this word “steep place/bank” (κρημνοῦ) appears. The only other occurrence in the Greek scriptures is 2 Chron 25:12, where King Amaziah threw 10,000 Edomite soldiers over a cliff to their death – an interesting echo of Jesus’ ministry here.
It would have to be quite a dropoff to actually kill all that many. Mark says it was about 2,000 pigs.
But why kill all those pigs?
1) It demonstrates that death is what our enemy is after,
2) It vividly portrays the concept of substitutionary death – pigs dying instead of these two men dying, which would prepare the way for understanding Jesus’ coming death on the cross as a substitute for us, and
3) it would make a splash! Would the swineherds have managed to awaken the interest of the entire town if this hadn’t happened? Maybe not – I don’t profess to fully understand all of Jesus’ purposes in doing things the way He did, but it certainly got people’s attention!
8:33 οἱ δὲ βόσκοντες ἔφυγον, καὶ ἀπελθόντες εἰς τὴν πόλιν ἀπήγγειλαν πάντα καὶ τὰ τῶν δαιμονιζομένων.
8:33 Then the [swine-]tenders/ herdsmen fled, and once they got away into the city they reported on all [these] things – especially the matter of the demonized men.
· New Ungers Bible Dictionary says that Gadara was 6 miles off the coast of the lake, so the swineherds may have felt this was a safe distance to get away from the unsettling supernatural events going on.
· But pretty soon the entire town is buzzing with the news, and everybody makes their way out to the coast out to confront this phenomenon.
· Luke and Mark mention that the townspeople were shocked when they saw a man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting, clothed and in his right mind, at the feet of Jesus.
· At this point, according to Luke and Mark “they that saw it” – I presume this means the disciples – step in and explain what they saw to the townspeople. Apparently, it didn’t help much, but it was good practice for the disciples to warm up to their coming job as apostles and preachers of Jesus!
8:34 καὶ ἰδοὺ πᾶσα ἡ πόλις ἐξῆλθεν εἰς ὑπάντησιν τῷ ᾿Ιησοῦ, καὶ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν παρεκάλεσαν ὅπως μεταβῇ ἀπὸ τῶν ὁρίων αὐτῶν.
8:34 And look, the whole city came out for an encounter with Jesus, and beggedNKJ/ imploredNAS/ pleadedNIV/ conferenced as to how He might get transportation away from their coast.
ὑπάντησιν is a noun; I translated it “encounter.” Although not found in the O.T., it’s synonym συνάντησιν is a common word in the Greek O.T. for formal meetings of persons and frequently for battle formations.
What is it that the townsfolk want out of this encounter? They are impressed with the authority of Jesus, and, like the disciples and the demons, they too are afraid. But they offer a third response to Jesus’ authority: a desire for Jesus to go away!
Why? Likely they were pork-eating Gentiles steeped in the mythology of the Greek and Romans gods. The Greek gods were rather capricious and didn’t really look out for the interest of people around them. Conventional wisdom was to figure out how to appease them and hope they would leave you alone.
There was obviously something supernatural going on between the sudden halt in the storm, the transformation of their wildmen, and the decimation of their huge herd of pigs, and all this supernatural activity frightened them. They just wanted it to all go away and leave them alone. They didn’t want Gods coming and bringing trouble.
They were very delicate about it. No insolent words like the evil spirits, just a great show of diplomacy as they encouraged Him to consider whether it might be time to move on to His next destination.
I’m reminded of a song by the late Mark Heard, one of the best poets and acoustic engineers of Contemporary Christian Music. He wrote, describing our postmodern culture today, “Truth is a subject like a hand grenade. And God is a phantom on some prosaic page. Anything suggested is detested and fades like the smell of the summer rain. He can’t see the light; he keeps his eyes shut tight in search of a blissful ignorance. But he can’t find peace in a society that will reward him for his nonchalance.”
The Gerasenes were impressed with the power and authority of Jesus over nature and the spirit world, but they didn’t want to get close to Him. They were in no better position than the demons who knew Jesus’ identity and authority and yet wanted nothing to do with Him. So Jesus got back into the boat and left.
But Jesus had come to the Gentiles, and He had made new creations of two new witnesses to His divine power there.
· Mark and Luke tell us how at least one of the restored men asked to stick with Jesus, and Jesus said, “Go to your house and to your friends and tell them what great things the Master has done for you and how He had mercy on you.”
· And the witness of the formerly demon-possessed men would be effective. Before long, Gentiles from this area would come looking for Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem, wanting to hear more!
This brings us back to the first response, that of a follower of Christ.
· If Jesus has shown His power to us by freeing us from bondage to sin, then our response should not be indifference like the townspeople or insolence like the demons, but eager worship and testimony to the world of what great things He has done for us!
· AND if Jesus is Lord of both nature and the supernatural, commanding the obedience of earth and sky as well as all the demons of hell, and if He is your Lord and Protector, then there is nothing which should be able to intimidate you:
§ We do not fear His power to change people like the Gerasene townspeople did.
§ We do not fear His judgment like the unclean spirits did, because we are not His enemies – He has saved us from hell already!
§ And we shall not fear any earthquake or storm, whether literal or figurative, because we know what kind of person He is, that even the wind and the waves obey His will.
 The majority of medieval manuscripts differ from the majority of the oldest manuscripts by adding hamas (us) (i.e. ἡμᾶς not in א, B, f1, f13, 33,or 892)
 The Nestle-Aland and the 3rd Edition UBS Greek New Testaments spell this absolute participial phrase in the genitive case, but give no explanation.
 Although the word, “Jesus” appears in this place in the majority of medieval Greek manuscripts and in the King James versions, it is not found in the majority of ancient Greek manuscripts (i.e. not in א, B, C, L, f1, 33,or 892).
 ἐπίτρεψον ἡμῖν “permit us” is the Majority text including C, L, W, and f13, and is the reading of the King James English Versions (cf. the disciple’s request in v.21, which uses this same verb). αποστειλον ἡμᾶς “send us” is found in א, B, Θ, f1, 33, 892, and the majority of ancient Latin translations, and is the reading of the NASB, NIV, and ESV, because the two most ancient Greek manuscripts of Matthew known are א and B.
 Although the majority of Medieval Greek manuscripts repeat the entire phrase τῆν ἀγέλην τῶν χοίρων “the herd of swine,” twice in this verse, the more likely ancient textual tradition (i.e. א, B, C, 0242, f1, 33, 892, 1010, and the majority of pre-Vulgate Latin translations) have merely “the herd” and then later merely “the swine,” thus the difference between the King James and modern English translations. This doesn’t make for any change in meaning whatsoever.
 See above.
 Textus Receptus has συνάντησιν here, although found nowhere else in the NT, it is a common word in the Greek O.T. for formal meetings of persons and frequently for battle formations. ὑπάντησιν is found in א, B, Θ, f1, and 33, and in two other places in the NT (plus 10 more in its verb form, including the initial encounter of the two demonized men with Jesus in v.28), but nowhere in the Greek O.T. There is no significant difference in meaning.