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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Luke 8

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. VIII.

Women minister unto Christ of their substance. Christ, after he had preached from place to place, attended by his apostles, propoundeth the parable of the sower, and of the candle; declareth who are his mother, and brethren; rebuketh the winds; casteth the legion of devils out of the man, into the herd of swine; and is rejected of the Gadarenes; healeth the woman of her bloody issue; and raiseth from death Jairus's daughter.

Anno Domini 30.


Verse 1

Luke 8:1. And it came to pass afterward Εν τω καθεξης ; that is, The day after our Lord dined with Simon,—he and his twelve apostles departed from Capernaum with an intention to go up to Jerusalem to the passover. He did not, however, keep the direct road; he set out early, and preached in many towns and villages by the way, the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, that is, the joyful tidings of God's reconcileableness to man, of the necessity of regeneration, and of the acceptableness of repentance and faith even in the chief of sinners. His going through the cities and villages to preach, are the terms made use of by the evangelists, when they describe our Lord's departure from Capernaum; therefore, as it is used on this occasion, it is highly probable that Simon the Pharisee, with whom our Lord dined the day before, lived in Capernaum: and as this latter gave him an invitation immediately after he had finished his discourse occasioned by the Baptist's message, Jesus must have been in Capernaum, or near it, when that message came to him.


Verse 2

Luke 8:2. And certain women, &c.— Our Lord was accompanied in his journey by certain pious women, who in all probability were going likewise to the passover, and who supplied him with money, not on the present occasion only, but as often as he stood in need of it. St. Mark, as well as St. Luke, relates the circumstance of our Lord's being supported by the charity of his friends; for, speaking of the women who were present at our Lord's crucifixion, he says, ch. Mark 15:41 that when Jesus "was in Galilee, they followed him, and ministered unto him of their substance." The evangelists no where else tell us in what way our Lord and his apostles were supported. Of the number of those pious women was Mary, called Magdalene, from Magdala, the place of her residence, as we have observed on ch. Luke 7:37 a woman of the first rank in Judea, out of whom our Lord had cast seven devils. But it will not seem strange that she is represented as having been possessed by seven devils, when we recollect that we have in this very chapter the account of a man who was possessed by a whole legion. The reason why a woman of Joanna's quality had become an attendant upon Christ, is assigned by St. Luke. She was one of those who had been healedby him of evil spirits and infirmities, it is most probable that this wife of Chuza was now a widow.


Verse 10

Luke 8:10. That seeing, they might not see, As much as to say, "Take this mark, among others, of the truth of my pretensions. My offers of salvation, as was foretold, (see Isaiah 6:8-10.) are rejected by my countrymen; and I have delivered my message to them in such terms, and attended with such circumstances, as have been foretold by the prophets." In a word, our Lord is here simply instructing his followers in the wiseandwonderfulaccomplishmentofscripture-prophesiesconcerningtheJews,and concerning their Messiah; to convince them of God's righteous dealings, and of the truth of his own mission. See the Inferences on Matthew 10.


Verse 14

Luke 8:14. Are choked with cares St. Luke expresses it thus, perhaps, to intimate the uneasy situation of the mind, while clogged and straitened with such incumbrances as these, and rendered utterly unfit to breathe and delight itself in celestial and eternal objects. Choking arises from something which straitens the gullet or wind-pipe, and so obstructs the passage of food or air; and thus young plants or corn may properly be said to be choked with thorns, which do not leave them room to grow; and the word, which otherwise by the power of the divine Spirit would exert its vital influences, is represented as choked, when thus oppressed with secular cares prevailing in the mind.


Verse 16

Luke 8:16. A candle, A lamp.


Verse 17-18

Luke 8:17-18. For nothing is secret, &c.— The author of the version of 1729 translates these two verses elegantly enough, in the following manner: Luke 8:17. "Whatever is now obscure, shall hereafter be made clear: whatever is now concealed shall then be publicly known: Luke 8:18. Improve therefore what you hear; for he that improves what he has, shall have more; but he that does not, shall lose even that which he thinks he possesses."


Verse 19

Luke 8:19. Then came to him his mother Our Lord's mother made this visit probably with a design to carry him to Nazareth, where she might hope that he would work miracles, and bless his countrymen with the benefits which he so freely dispensed wherever he came. She seems to have succeeded in her design; for not long after this he went away into his own country, as Matthew informs us, Matthew 13:53. Or, if this supposition be not allowed, perhaps his relations might come to him, from an apprehension that a continual fatigue of preaching might hurt his health; and were therefore desirous of his resting awhile, to refresh himself. Dr. Macknight is of opinion, that this was the second time in which Mary shewed her anxiety for her Son; the account in St. Matthew being introduced before the parable of the sower, and this in St. Luke after it.


Verse 23

Luke 8:23. He fell asleep: Some are of opinion, that on this occasion our Lord fell asleep designedly, to give as it were an opportunity for the full display of this extraordinary miracle: however, as hewent on board in the evening, his falling asleep may have happened in the nighttime, and in common course; particularly as he must have been fatigued with the labours of the preceding day. Instead of they were filled, some copies read the vessel was filled. See Mark 4:37.


Verse 24

Luke 8:24. Master, Master, we perish! How concise, how abrupt, and how ardent is this exclamation! therefore how strongly significant of imminent danger,and of the utmost distress! they have not time to be explicit; a moment's delay may be fatal. What they utter is conciseness itself, and all rapidity.—This is nature; this is the general language of the heart.


Verse 25

Luke 8:25. Where is your faith? The disciples, having seen their Master perform many miracles, had abundant reason to rely on his power and goodness, even in a greater danger than this; for though their vessel had sunk, they could not have imagined that God would have suffered him to be lost; and might have been confident, that he who had given sight to the blind, and life to the dead, could have saved them all, by making them walk firmly on the water, as he enabled one of them to do afterwards. Their timidity therefore was altogether culpable, and the reproof that he gave them just. But their views of his supreme Godhead were at that time exceedingly dark. See the note on Matthew 8:27.


Verse 26-27

Luke 8:26-27. And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, Though we have given, in the notes on St. Matthew, an explanation of the principal circumstances of this remarkable miracle; yet, as it contains so full and satisfactory an account of real possession, and demoniacal agency, I cannot refuse my reader the extracts following from Dr. Ward's Dissertation on the subject, as they not only concur with, but strongly confirm the opinions which I have advanced in the notes onSt. Matthew. Observe we then, that the case of the man among the tombs is told with some remarkable circumstances: he is here described as wholly unconversable; so fierce, that no one durst come near him. He had lived a long time in this condition, and therefore was neither capable, nor had any opportunity, of knowing any thing concerning Christ or his character. Besides, it is plain that he could not be apprized of his coming at that time, forthe ship sailed over from the other side in the night; and so soon as Christ came ashore, and the man saw him at a distance, he ran to him and worshipped him; Luke 8:28. Are these the actions of a mere madman, fierce and outrageous? What could give this sudden turn to his mind, while Christ was yet at a distance from him? And when he came up to Christ, and Christ spoke to him, how could he know and confess him to be the Son of God most high, whom he had never before heard of? What he says further is indeed agreeable to the ravings of a madman, if it came from himself: but that it could not, seems very plain from its inconsistency with his true confession of Christ, to whom he was wholly a stranger; though considering all that he says as coming from an evil spirit, the whole is in character; nor do the inhabitants of the neighbouring town seem to know more of Christ than this man, if we are to judge by their conduct. All the circumstances therefore being duly considered, it will appear very evident that the case of this man could not be merely the effect of madness, but that it was a real possession. In the present case, the circumstances mentioned are such as cannot be otherwise accounted for, than by a real possession. St. Luke observes, that Christ first spoke to them, or one of them, (Luke 8:29 and see Matthew 8:28.) and commanded the unclean spirit to come out of him. If this was spoken to the man, and not to the devil,—by the unclean spirit must be meant the disease: and as Christ never spoke in vain, the man must immediately have found some change in himself for the better, and therefore could not have asked him after this, whether he came to torment him. But that this discourse was between Christ and the evil spirit appears still more evident from a preceding instance of the like kind, which happened while Christ was yet less known, and is recorded by St. Mark, Mark 1:21, &c.


Verse 28

Luke 8:28. What have I to do with thee, &c.?— This way of speaking has been used bywriters in all the ancient languages, and is applied both to personsand things. With respect to persons, it is used, sometimes by superiors towards inferiors; at other times, by one equal to another; and again, at other times, by inferiors towards their superiors; and the sense must vary according to the different circumstances of the persons whom it respects. For when an inferior thus addresses his superior, which is the case here, it is to be considered only as an expostulation; and in that sense the devils might use this form of expression to Christ: for that they did it in an expressive manner, is evident from the worship which they paid him at the same time; as likewise from their petition to himimmediately afterwards, that he would permit them to go into the swine. And therefore, his being their judge seems to occasion no impropriety in the expression; for a criminal may, and often does expostulate with his judge: but the inconsistencyof it, as coming from the demoniacs themselves, has been shewn already in the preceding note. It is evident indeed from many passages in the evangelists, that Christ frequently forbad not only the devils, but men likewise, in public, to acknowledge him to be the Son of God; the reasons for which have been already repeatedly given: but at other times he thought proper to permit such a declaration in private, and particularly from his disciples, as we find Matthew 16:15; Matthew 16:28. And as to the case of these demoniacs among the Gadarenes, there seems to have been the greatest propriety at that time, not only for his permitting the devils to confess him, as they do, to be the Son of God, but likewise to worship him. For it does not appear that any other persons were then present but Christ himself and his disciples, except the demoniacs; and this was not long before he sent forth his disciples before him to preach and to heal, &c. Matthew 10:7-8 and therefore, what could be more proper, or give them higher encouragement to hope for success in this great work, than to see the devils thus subject to their Master, and paying homage to him, as they had a little before seen the winds and the waves obey his command in their passage thither? Now the power given them in their commission, as recorded Matthew 10:8 was to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: if therefore the last, cast out devils, had meant no more than to cure madmen, surely it would not have been placed after raising the dead.—Again, in ch. Luke 10:1 we are told that Christ appointed and sent out seventy other disciples, who are said, Luke 8:17 to have returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us through thy name. Where it is plain that they did not mean mere madmen, by our Saviour's answer,—Rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.


Verse 30

Luke 8:30. What is thy name, &c.?— Our Saviour probably asked the name of the evil spirit, to shew the extreme misery of the demoniac who was possessed by him. There is no need of concluding from the answer, that the number of these evil spirits was exactly the same with that of a Roman legion, which at this period consisted of six thousand and upwards. It was a phrase often made use of to express a great number; and it is observable that the evangelist's words lead us to this very sense: My name is legion, for or because we are many. It is perfectly evident from St. Luke's mode of expression—many devils were entered into him, that he considered this, not as a mere lunacy, but as a real possession. Probably a band of evil spirits united in the vexation of this poor wretched man; but, in what manner, or order, itis impossible for us to say, who know so little of the state of invisible beings.


Verse 31

Luke 8:31. And they brought him, &c.— It seems from Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:20 that different evil genii presided over distinct legions, by the directionsof Satan their prince. These, who perhaps were spirits of distinguished abilities, might be appointed to reside hereabouts, to oppose as much as possible the beneficial designs of Christ; and having made their observations on the character and circumstances of the inhabitants, they might judge themselves capable of doing more mischief here than elsewhere, and on that account might desire leave to continue on the spot. See Mark 5:10. The word Αβυσσος, rendered deep in this passage, signifies the place where wicked spirits are punished; as it does likewise, Revelation 20:3 where it is translated the bottomless pit: properly it denotes a place without a bottom, or so deep that it cannot be fathomed. The Greeks describe their Tartarus in this manner: and the Jews, when they wrote Greek, did not scruple to adopt their expressions, because they were universally understood. Besides, the Hebrew language did not furnish proper words for these ideas; which was the reason that the first Christians also, when they had occasion to speak of the state of evil spirits, made use of terms purely Greek. See 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude, Luke 8:6.


Verse 32

Luke 8:32. And he suffered them The town of Gadara, near which this miracle was wrought, was a Grecian city: see Matthew 8:28.; and as there was a mixture of Jews and Gentiles in those towns which bordered upon Judea, many of the Jews who lived there complied in some things with the Gentile customs, and among others, very probably in eating swine's flesh; and if this was the case, part of these swine might belong to them, which, by their number, two thousand, seem to have been a common or town-herd. It was therefore a just punishment upon them, when Christ permitted the swine to be thus destroyed. And for the other inhabitants, it was nothing more than what often happens in common calamities, that all suffer alike, and was abundantly made up to them by a favour of infinitely greater importance. For though Christ did not stay to declare himself to them, yet he left the man he had cured to do it; ordering him to return home to his own house, and shew how great things God had done unto him; (Luke 8:39.) which accordingly he did. This must have been sufficient to acquaint the Gadarenes with his character as the Messiah, to which before they were strangers; and lead them to an inquiry into his doctrine; which was a very compassionate method to make himself known in a country, beyond the usual limits of his doing it, either in person or by his disciples, till after his ascension. Nor does it seem reasonable, or agreeable to our Saviour's conduct in other cases, to suppose that he crossed the sea in a stormy night privately, and returned back in the same manner, only to cure one demoniac, or two at the most; and to permit the destruction of two thousand swine, without any further view of doing serviceto the inhabitants of those parts of the country.


Verse 37

Luke 8:37. The whole multitude—besought him, &c.— The inhabitants of the neighbouring town seem to have known no more of Christ than the demoniac; for when those who fed the swine fled thither, and told them what had happened, they immediatelycame to the place, and seeing the great alteration made in the man, this, together with the loss of their swine, so terrified them, that they besought Christ to depart out of their coasts. Mark 5:15-17. They would surely not have done this, had they before heard of his character (though they had never seen him) that he went about doing good, curing all sorts of diseases, and expelling devils or demons. See on Matthew 8:33.


Verse 39

Luke 8:39. Shew how great things God hath done unto thee. The divinity of our Saviour is strongly and emphatically expressed in this verse; where what Jesus had done, is placed in direct and immediate apposition with what God had done.


Verse 43

Luke 8:43. An issue of blood A bloody flux.


Verse 48

Luke 8:48. Daughter, be of good comfort: What is here said of this woman, is frequently asserted by our Saviour upon other occasions, namely, that the miraculous cure which he performed was in some measure in consequence of the patient's faith. We find likewise that faith was actually required, sometimes of the persons themselves who were to be healed, at other times of those who interceded for them, and were to attest the faith of the miracle. The reasons for this have been assigned in the note on Mark 9:20-24.


Verse 55

Luke 8:55. Her spirit came again, This expression implies that she was really dead, and that the soul exists separately after the body dies. See the note on Mark 5:42.

Inferences drawn from the healing of the bloody issue, Luke 8:43-48 of this chapter, and Matthew 9:20-22. In this memorable event our blessed Lord had certainly no small respect to the faith of Jairus, to whose house he was going. How could that ruler now think otherwise than that he, who by the virtue of his garment only, could pluck this woman out of the grasp of death, who had been twelve years dying, could now as well by the power of his word, pluck his daughter, who had lived twelve years, out of the jaws of death, which had newly seized her!

The patient laboured under an issue of blood; a disease, attended with no less shame than pain; no less legal impurity, than natural infirmity. Time added to her grief; twelve long years she had languished under this woeful complaint: besides the tediousness, diseases must get head by continuance; and so much more do they both weaken nature, and strengthen themselves, by how much they afflict us: thus it is also in the soul, and in the state: vices, which are the sickness of both, when they grow inveterate, have a strong plea for their abode and uncontroulableness.

To consummate her distress, poverty was superadded to her sickness, Luke 8:43. While she had wherewith to accommodate herself, and to procure good attendance, good diet, and all the succours of distressful languor, she could not but find some mitigation of her sorrow: but now, want began to oppress her no less than her distemper, and helped to render her perfectly miserable.

And yet, could she have parted from her substance in exchange, her complaint had been the less: could the physicians have given her, if not health, yet relaxation and a recess from pain, her means had not been misapplied; but we are told, (Mark 5:26.) that she suffered many things of them in the course of their applications. Art could give her neither cure nor hope.

It were indeed pity but that this woman should have been thus sick: the nature, the duration, the cost, the pain, the incurableness of her disease, all conspired to send her in search of Christ, and moved Christ to effect her cure. Our extremities are those harsh friends which drive us to our Saviour. When forsaken of all other succours and hopes, we are fittest for his redress; there is no fear, no danger, but in our insensibility to our helpless state.

This woman was a stranger to Christ; it seems she had never seen him; the report of his miracles had lifted her up to such a confidence of his power and mercy, as that she said within herself, If I may but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be whole. The shame of her disease stopped her mouth from any verbal suit: had her infirmity been known, she had been shunned, abhorred, and disdainfully thrust back by all beholders: she conceals therefore her grief, her desire, and her faith; and speaks within herself, where alone she may be bold to utter her sentiments.

In all likelihood, if there could have been virtue in our Lord's garment at all, the nearer the body the more: here then was the praise of the woman's faith, that she promises herself a cure, by the touch of the utmost hem. Whoever would look to receive any benefit from Christ, must come in faith. It is that alone which makes us capable of any favour. Nay, the endeavour, and the issue of all things, human and spiritual, depend upon our faith. Who would sow, or trade, or travel, or marry, if he did not therein surely trust he should succeed? What benefit can we expect to derive from a divine exhortation, if we do not believe it will edify us?—From a sacred banquet,—the food of angels,—if we do not believe it will nourish our souls? from our best devotions, if we do not persuade ourselves, that they will fetch down celestial blessings? Vain and heartless are services, if we do not say, "May I drink but one drop of that heavenly nectar; may I taste but one crumb of that bread of life; may I hear but one word from the month of Christ; may I send but one heart sigh or ejaculation of a holy desire to my God,—and I shall be whole!"

According to her resolution is her practice. She touched; but she came behind to touch, (Luke 8:44.) whether for humility or for secrecy, as desirous to obtain a cure unseen, unnoted: she was a Jewess, and therefore well knew that in this case her touch was no better than a pollution: whatever were her motives, her faith was glorious, was accepted, was triumphant; behold, immediately her issue of blood stanched, and she was whole of her grievous infirmity.

And now, who would not think that a man might lade up a dish of water from the sea, unmissed? But that water, though vast, is finite, and all its drops are within number. And yet, wonderful to reflect, this bashful soul cannot steal one drop of mercy from this endless, boundless, bottomless sea of divine bounty, but it is felt and questioned! Luke 8:45. And Jesus said, Who touched me? Who can forbear the disciples' reply,—"Who touched thee, O Lord?—the multitude: dost thou ask concerning one, when thou art pressed by many? In the midst of a throng, dost thou inquire, Who touched me?"

"Nay, but yet some one touched me: all thronged me, but one touched. How riddle-like soever it may seem to sound, they that thronged me touched me not: she only touched me, who thronged me not; yea, who touched me not." Even so, O Saviour: others touched thy body with their's; she touched thy hem with her hand, thy divine power with her soul.

Christ insists upon his former challenge, and positively asserts, Somebody hath touched me; for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. The effect proves the act;—that which is a rule in nature, that every agent works by contact, holds spiritually too. Then dost thou, O God, work upon our souls, when thou touchest our hearts with thy Spirit; then do we re-act upon thee, when we touch thee by our faith and confidence in thee. Nothing could please thee more than this, to feel virtue drawn out of thee by the faith of the receiver. It is the nature and the praise of God to be communicative. Thou that knowest thy store so infinite, canst not but be more willing to give than we to receive. Thou that wert wont to hold it much better to give than to receive, canst not but give gladly. Fear not, then, O my soul, to lade plentifully at this well, this ocean of mercy, which, the more thou takest, does but overflow the more.

But why then, O Saviour, didst thou thus inquire and expostulate? Was it for thine own sake—that the glory of the miracle might thus come to light, which else had been smothered in silence? Was it for Jairus's sake, that his depressed heart might be raised to a confidence in thy omnipotence? Or was it chiefly for the woman's sake, for the praise of her faith, or for the security of her conscience? Her modesty and silence through the whole transaction, as they had hidden her disease, so would they have hidden her virtue. Christ will not suffer this secrecy, or lose the honour of so singular a mercy, the knowledge whereof was well adapted to promote the noblest ends:—among which it is very obvious to remark one, namely, that as there was an error in this women's thought of concealment, so in our Lord's words there was a correction of that error; nor will his mercy suffer her to retire with that secret offence on her head.

Omniscience cannot be eluded or deceived. Well indeed might the woman think, "He who can thus cure, and thus know his cure, can as well know my name, descry my person, and shame and chastise my ingratitude." Accordingly, finding she was not hid, Luke 8:47 with a pale face and trembling foot she comes, and falls down before him, humbly acknowledging what she had done, and what she had obtained. Could she have found any way privately to retreat with her cure, she had not confessed it; and thus had she deprived God of his glory, and been herself a thankless receiver of so great a benefit. O my God, in the deepest darkness, in the most inward retirement, when none sees me, when I see not myself, yet let me then perceive thine all-seeing eye full upon me: and if ever my eyes shall be shut, or arrested by a prevailing temptation, check me with a speedy reproof, that with this abased penitent I may come in, confess my error, and implore thy mercy!

It is no unusual thing for kindness itself to look sternly for the time, that it may endear itself the more when it shall please to be discovered. Thus with a severe countenance had our Lord looked round him, and asked, Who touched me? But when the woman came trembling, and confessing both the act and success, his brow clears up, and he speaks comfortably to her: Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole: Go in peace: Luke 8:48. O sweet and seasonable words, fit for those merciful and divine lips to utter; able to secure my heart, to dispel my fears!

Her cure was Christ's act; yet he gave the praise of it to her:—Thy faith hath made thee whole. He acknowledges a virtue inherent in her; not that her faith did it by way of merit or efficacy, but by way of gracious concession. So much does our Saviour regard her faith, that he will honour it with the success of a cure. And such is still the remedy of our spiritual diseases, our sins. By faith we are justified; by faith we are saved. Thou only, O Saviour, canst heal us, and thou wilt not heal us but by our faith; not as it issues from us, but as it appropriates thee. The sickness is our own by nature; the remedy ours by grace.

O happy dismission, Go in peace! How unquiet had this poor object hitherto been!—A body diseased, a mind grievously disquieted with sorrow for her sickness, and with fear of the continuance of so bad a guest; and her soul for the present had no peace, from the sense of her guiltiness in the transaction of this business, and from a conceived displeasure of that gracious One, to whom she came for comfort and redress. But now, at once does the Saviour calm all these storms, and in one word and act restore her to perfect peace; peace in body, in mind, in soul.

Even so, Lord, it was for thee only, who art the Prince of peace, to bestow thy peace on this poor penitent. Our bodies, minds, souls, estates, are thine, whether to afflict or ease. In vain shall we speak peace to ourselves; in vain shall the world speak peace to us, except thou say to our hearts, as thou didst to this distressed soul,—Go in peace.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, With unwearied labours the divine Redeemer went about doing good.

1. He visited all the cities and villages in Galilee, preached the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, and opened the nature, blessings, and privileges of that gospel-church which he came to erect. His twelve apostles attended him to be witnesses of his miracles, and to learn from his lips the doctrines which they were afterwards appointed to preach.

2. His support arose from the contributions of some pious women who followed him, who had experienced his healing grace both in their bodies and their souls. Among many others, three are particularly mentioned; Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus had cast seven devils; Joanna, the wife, perhaps now the widow, of Chuza, Herod's steward, probably a person of considerable rank and fortune; and Susanna. These, with many others, furnished him with a subsistence; and he, in great humility, condescended to be thus supported, rather than exert his own miraculous power. Note; (1.) Christ lived upon alms, to teach us never to despise the poor; nor, if we be reduced, proudly to scorn being obliged to others for a maintenance. (2.) They who love the gospel, cannot but delight to contribute liberally for the support of it. (3.) If we have been truly healed by the grace of Jesus, we shall immediately commence his followers in all holy conversation and godliness.

2nd, Great multitudes being collected together from all the neighbouring cities and villages, he took occasion to represent the nature of the gospel-dispensation by the parable of the sower, which we had, Matthew 13:3, the explication of which he vouchsafes to give to his inquisitive disciples in private; it being their peculiar mercy, that what was left mysterious to others, should be explained to them.

1. Concerning the parable, we may observe, (1.) How vigilant is our adversary the devil, in every place where the word of God is dispensed, to harden the heart against receiving it, lest we should believe and be saved; and this he does by distracting the attention, by suggesting some vain or worldly thoughts immediately after we have heard God's word preached, by instilling prejudices against the sower, or doubts about the scripture itself; and thus preventing the admission or abidance of the truth in the minds of the hearers: the consequence of which is, that men neglect and despise the great salvation of God. (2.) Among the multitudes who appear from time to time to be affected with the gospel, and make some profession, the greater number wilfully fall short of the kingdom: discouraged by the frowns, or seduced by the smiles, of this present evil world, they grow cold and careless; the love of pleasure and ease, anxious cares, or the inordinate love of riches, destroy and choke the word; and they either openly apostatize; or in their hearts, at least, depart from the living God. (3.) There is a blessed multitude, who yield to be saved by grace, and to whom in consequence the seed of the gospel-word becomes the power of God unto salvation. They seriously hear, sedately weigh, and faithfully embrace the truth, as it is in Jesus: therefore their hearts, through divine grace, become honest and sincere; and patiently persevering in well-doing, they hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end; not seduced by any enticements, nor deterred by any persecutions, which for the word's sake may arise. Thus their fruit abides and abounds, and they stand ready for the harvest of eternal glory.

2. By another parable of a lighted candle, Christ teaches his disciples, and others, what was expected from them, even to shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life;—this being the great design of all the private instructions he gave them, that they should afterwards plainly and fully declare to the world the great truths couched under these similitudes. As therefore they must give a solemn account for the particular advantages which they enjoyed, they must take heed how they hear, when so much was hereby entrusted to them, and expected from them; which if they improved, farther assistances of spiritual light and greater gifts should be given them: but if they neglected to profit by these means of wisdom and grace vouchsafed to them, the consequence would be, that the gifts and knowledge which they had would decay, and be taken from them, and darkness and error succeed.

3. Christ acknowledges those who truly hear the word of God, and do it, as his nearest and dearest relations. His mother and his brethren desired to see and speak with him; but unable to approach him, because of the crowd, some of those who stood around him, informed him of their request; but he was otherwise engaged in his Father's work, and took occasion hence to encourage those who were his diligent attendants, assuring them that they shared his regards above the nearest relatives after the flesh, merely as such.

3rdly, We had before in Matthew 8 an account of the two illustrious miracles contained in Luke 8:22-39 of this chapter. We see,

1. Christ's wonders in the deep. He, at whose word the stormy waves arise, can in a moment also restrain their rage, and silence their roaring. Christ sent his disciples by sea, on purpose to give them this fresh evidence of his omnipotence. They embarked at his word, and little expected danger; but oftentimes, when we lull ourselves into security, our peril is most imminent: they had him with them however, and therefore needed not fear: but he was asleep; for so regardless he sometimes appears toward his people in their distress: and their danger staggered their faith, and filled their hearts with fears, as their boat was filled with water. Prayer was now their recourse; to Christ they fly, and awaken him with their cries. He slept, partly at least, with this design, to quicken their desires after him, to affect them with a deeper sense of their want of him, and to testify towards them more abundantly his power and his love. When we feel ourselves undone and perishing, then may Christ be truly precious to us; none ever perished, who thus fled to him. He arose, and with a word stilled the raging sea, and quieted their fears. He delights to speak peace to the troubled conscience, and they who wait on him shall not be ashamed of their confidence. Their only shame will arise from their dishonourable distrusts of him; for these he justly reproves them, Where is your faith? A measure of faith they had; but it was not strong enough for the present danger. Their sudden deliverance amazed them; and, filled with reverential fear at such a display of divine power, they could not but conclude that he must be more than man, whom winds and waves obeyed.

2. Christ's dominion over the powers of darkness. Raging devils can no more resist his power, than raging winds: and this is an unspeakable comfort to all God's people, that Satan cannot harm, even a swine, without permission. A legion here possessed one man; how numberless then these malignant spirits; how unequal a match must we be for them, if left to ourselves! No chains could hold this poor demoniac; in cold and nakedness, without clothes or covering, he was driven to the tombs: so ungovernable are we when under the influence of satanical tempers, a terror to others, a burden to ourselves. At the feet of Jesus he fell, while the foul spirit within cried out in terror, dreading to be dispossessed, and sent to the abyss; the place of torment. A slavish fear of hell sometimes drives men thus to their knees: they dread the punishment, but do not loath their sins; they cry for release from their pains, not for deliverance from their corruptions. When the devils are compelled to quit their hold of the man, they fain would be doing mischief, if but among the swine; and in correction to some, and as a warning to others, Christ permits this visitation on the property of the Gadarenes. But when they heard from the affrighted keepers the loss they had sustained, they desired him to depart out of their coast, dreading the consequences of his stay; and he departed. The visitations which should humble, often serve but to harden, the souls of sinners: instead of coming to Christ, they would get as far from him as possible. The poor man, however, who was now restored to his right mind, and sitting at Jesus's feet, would fain have followed him; but he is sent back to proclaim the mercy that he has experienced. When by divine grace a right mind is restored to us, and the power of sin and Satan broken, we are called upon to acknowledge the mercy to the praise of Jesus, and to tell what great things he has done for our souls, inviting others to come and taste how gracious the Lord is.

4thly, Though the Gadarenes were glad to get rid of Jesus, the men of Galilee with open arms received him, eagerly waiting for his return. If in one place the gospel be despised and expelled, another door of utterance shall be opened, and some will be glad to welcome the ejected ministers of Christ.

No sooner was Jesus arrived, than we find an application made to him by a ruler, in behalf of his daughter at the point of death; and while he goes to perform one miracle, by the way he works another.

1. A poor diseased woman, who was ashamed to make a public application to him, persuaded that a touch of his garment would effect that which all her physicians had attempted in vain, came in secret among the crowd; and touching his garment, found, according to her faith, a perfect cure. But it was not proper that it should be hid: for the glory of Jesus and the comfort of her own soul, she is called upon to make an acknowledgment of the mercy. Persuaded, that he who felt virtue go out of him, and wrought the cure, could not be at a loss to find out the patient, no sooner did she hear his inquiries, than she fell trembling at his feet, acknowledged her boldness, and owned the blessing which she had received. Far from being displeased, he who healed her body now comforts her soul; and, commending her faith, dismisses her in peace. Note; (1.) There is that fulness of grace in Christ, that whoever comes to him shall be holpen. (2.) We cannot be hid from the eye of Jesus, and a gracious soul desires it not; such a one would tell him of all his wants, and pour out his heart in simplicity before him. (3.) Christ delights to raise up the trembling sinner, and speaks comfort to the poor in spirit: such need not fear; the language of Jesus to them shall be the voice of peace and love.

2. The ruler's daughter had now closed her eyes in death, and therefore his friends imagined it useless to trouble Jesus farther. In lesser trials many thus pretend to trust him, who, in greater, are ready to despair; but he, who by a word can heal the diseased, can by the same power raise the dead; he encourages, therefore, the ruler's faith; not only while there is life there is hope, but even in death the case is not desperate, when he, who is the resurrection and the life, is the physician. With three of his disciples, and the parents of the child, he went into the room where she lay, sending forth those as unworthy to be spectators of his power, who, when he would dry up their tears with good words and comfortable, laughed at his saying that she only slept, because they knew she was dead; but knew not that to him it was as easy to call her from the arms of death, as to awaken her from sleep. At his word the damsel arose; his hand of grace, his word of power, communicated life, and brought back the spirit which had fled: in perfect health her astonished parents beheld her restored to their longing arms. He commanded them hereupon to give her some food, and charged them to conceal the miracle. By the effectual word of Jesus is the believing soul thus quickened to spiritual life; and when the union between the body and soul is dissolved, he takes care of both the body and soul of every faithful persevering believer in their state of separation; and will bring the spirit again in the resurrection-day, and prepare for it a body glorified like his own.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 8:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/luke-8.html. 1801-1803.

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