Jesus heals the Gerasene demoniac in Luke 8 video discussion

The lectionary reading for Trinity 1, Year C, is Luke’s version of Jesus meeting and healing the demon-possessed man in the ‘region of the Gerasenes’ (Luke 8.26–39).

James and Ian discuss the story, its place in Luke, its relation to Mark’s account, and the implications for our understanding of Jesus’ ministry.


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5 thoughts on “Jesus heals the Gerasene demoniac in Luke 8 video discussion”

  1. Than you . I love the juxtaposition of the storm episode with the story of the demoniac. It almost feels that one is supposed to be overlaid over the other so that each element acts as a meta narrative for the other. You gave me short shrift when I tried to see a similarity between wilderness and clouds but here we seem to be mixing desert and sea. A lot of shouting seems to characterise both stories. Deeply moving. I want to explore this.

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    • Not meta narrative, I mean …some sort of metaphorical or allusional highlighting for dramatic effect..can’t think of a word for it

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      • Ps
        Any dramatisation could mix both stories in a bilious, seasick, chaotic mélange that is a totally seat of the pants ride. Like a fairground ride gone horribly wrong that Jesus jumps aboard and brings to a calm, sedate, stop.

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  2. Well, I could not resist putting into words what inspired me. Here it is:

    The Gerasene Cliff
    The boat, under its own momentum, like a mouse relieved to have escaped its hunter slid quietly for the cover of a low cliff. The cliff, only ten feet high was cleft in two by a tiny stream. The water had left its mark, the cliffs were luxuriant and the tiny port tranquil and humid. The tops of the cliff were bushy like surprised eyebrows but the disciples were unable to look up and appreciate their curious look, they were to a man exhausted, some were still vomiting and holding onto whatever they could. Only Peter, clutching the steer-oar was able to open one eye and look up for half a second to see Jesus on the prow lightly step ashore. He wrapped a rope around a small branch of tamarisk sprouting from a cleft in the rock. The boat had embedded itself in the bristling moustachioed thicket overhanging deep water, too deep to see the bottom. The hidden depths, like the mind of man, were unfathomable.
    Only a minute or two at most the raging storm had been gnashing its teeth at them and hurling insolent epithets that were sure to have them all cast overboard at any moment. The mouth of the abyss had been foaming and hurling tongues of spume over them. Its great glowering, blackened visage had seemed at any moment to have battered them to pieces with its great flailing fists. They had only moments ago witnessed great rocks like teeth about to gnaw and gulp them down into its belly. First it seemed like it was one single entity rushing at them headlong then suddenly it seemed they were being assailed by a legion of warriors coming at them from every direction. It had been like defending a tower from a demon hoard intent on pulling them over. This legion had broken their mast and made off with anything not nailed down. The sail was torn to shreds and hanging over the side where it disappeared into the opaque, muddy, brown water. Bits of splintered wood like arrows pierced it in a dozen places.
    Jesus footsteps could be easily heard as he made his way up the boulders that still ran with gentle rivulets that sounded like they were weeping for joy- compared to what had just taken place. Detritus floated gently away that moments before had tangled the great craggy forehead marring its face. Then as the sound of His footsteps receded. After a while the rivulets ceased, occasionally dripping great tears down the beard of long grass overhanging lips of rock.
    All was calm. Nobody moved. Nobody could say a word. At this moment the cool shade of the cliff was welcome. The sun on the sea sparkled with delight. Not a cloud could be seen. They sat and waited for Jesus to return from his reconnoitre. The silence was deafening, for a while. Then, in the distance above them, what seemed to be the wind picked up and was wailing.
    Sounds of distant shrieking,
    “…son of the most high Garrrrrrd?” rose and sank on the wind. It was more like an impertinent question than a statement.
    Or was it? They looked at each other to find reassurance. They were all alert now and sitting up. Was that a voice or distant thunder? Or, was it a flash flood bringing a torrent of broken trees and boulders to bury them. Fear and panic riveted them where they sat. The sounds of a torrent of detritus grew louder and louder. The earth began to vibrate. It was too late to try and loose the rope. Everyone dove back down and instinctively took cover.
    Now a hissing sound like a high waterfall broke through the almost inaudible rumbling, but only for a second, as thousands of pigs flew over the cliff to right and left. Some even fell head over heels and almost landed in the boat. Many hit the sides and slid under wrapped in sailcloth, giving the boat a few jerky sideswipes. Then all was still again.
    “Come up here,” said a familiar voice of command.
    Immediately they scrambled to the rocks and hurried up the cliff to get away from the sea and everything in it but also in great awe and wonder to find out what had been keeping Him.

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  3. Thank you for this. I initially looked for it having read this passage this morning and noticing as odd for the first time the way in which Jesus appears to accede to the pleadings of demons. You both addressed this point helpfully, thank you.

    What has really prompted me to comment was your brief discussion about disability theology and the point someone raised with you, Ian, that in healing someone of their disability to demonstrate his power Jesus seems to be obscuring the person. Your point about the positive impact on the dignity of the individual concerned is well made but I would like to push back against the premise of the original point.

    The little I know about disability theology suggests to me that some of it very much puts the disabled person front and centre. Surely Christian theology is about putting God at the centre? To be blunt, perhaps unhelpfully so but I hope not, if the Lord Jesus who is my creator, sustainer and redeemer should want to act in my life to demonstrate his power in a way that obscures me who am I to object? Should I not be overjoyed that he is using me for his glory? Is the glory of God not the point of me? As it happens I can’t imagine that the God who created me and lavished such love on me that he redeemed me at huge cost would want to obscure me and I don’t think that that is the effect of his work in our lives but still, we are his and not our own.

    Jesus calls all of us to take up our cross and follow him and tells all of us that if we want to save our lives we’ll lose them. These aren’t easy things to hear but they are pretty clear. Surely a big part of what it means to die to self is to stop putting ourselves and the various identities we see as integral to who we are at the centre and put Jesus there instead.

    As it happens I have a disability myself – I have been unable to work since 2015 and I’m held together/enabled by enough fancy machinery to sink a small ship (well, that’s maybe a slight exaggeration but you get my drift!). I’m pretty content in myself and don’t spend my time wishing I wasn’t disabled but there again if the Lord Jesus chose to remove my disability I would be delighted and wouldn’t feel in the least obscured (though it would be a very weird adjustment). I realise there are other types of disability and other personality types so my experience is just my experience but I hope it’s not irrelevant.

    On a slight tangent but still on disability theology I think it’s unhelpful when able-bodied people imply that disabled people must be really looking forward to heaven because they’ll get to be able-bodied like them. I think it’s far more helpful, (and of course accurate!!), to remember that all of us will be transformed and to encourage each other by reminding each other of the hope we have in a biblically informed way. Our hope a) is not limited to the transformation of our bodies and b) includes bodily transformation which none of us can really imagine but we can trust or Lord Jesus that it will be wonderful. One thing we know for sure is that it will involve liberation from decay – something that is not exclusive to disabled people.

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