LINK: Luke 8
Some of the events and parables in this chapter can also be found in Mt. 5, 8, 9, 12, 13 and in Mark 3, 4,and 5. If you want to read more, see Katrina's and Carol's comments on those chapters in our archives on the sidebar of the blog.
Several women, one of them Mary Magdalene, are mentioned in verses 1-3 of this chapter as accompanying Jesus and the twelve and helping to provide for them. Through the years, some have mistakenly believed that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, but there is no evidence of this from either Scripture or early church history. That misconception is a result of incorrectly combining several passages (the "sinful" woman in Luke 7 and two separate accounts in John 12:1-8 and Luke 7: 36-50, with this passage). Neither is there evidence from any ancient source that Jesus was married to her (or to anyone else) as has recently been conjectured and even popularized by fiction. Mary Magdalene was a woman who was healed of demons by Jesus, and who along with other women, gratefully followed Jesus to the cross and then visited His tomb to anoint His body.
There are at least two things that Jesus said in the chapter that are a bit hard to understand. After Jesus told the parable of the sower, His disciples asked Him what it meant. In His answer to them He quoted from the book of Isaiah, saying that He spoke in parables, "so that 'seeing they may not see and hearing they may not understand.'" (verse 10)
Then, in verse 18 Jesus said, "Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away."
It seems to me that the parables and the miracles in this chapter illustrate those two sayings. The parable of the sower is all about HOW we hear. And we see, too, examples of people who witnessed Jesus' miracles who heard with of ears faith and examples of people who were repelled by Jesus' actions and only wanted Him to leave them after they saw His power.
The disciples cried to Jesus when their boat was in the storm. He reproved them for their lack of faith, but I note that they had enough faith to cry to Him. The man from whom Jesus cast out demons begged to go with Jesus, but Jesus sent him home to tell how much God had done for him. Contrast his reaction to that of the people of the surrounding country who were seized with great fear at Jesus' power and so asked Jesus to leave them. We also see Jairus' faith and that of the woman who was needy enough to risk touching Jesus in faith to be healed.
Exposure to Jesus resulted in two totally different responses. Many people heard Jesus' parables and saw the miracles He performed. Some believed and obeyed in faith and others had the opposite reaction - they recoiled in fear and wanted to be as far away from Him as possible. Hearing and seeing softened some people's hearts. Hearing and seeing hardened other people's hearts. The more they heard, the more they turned away, just as in Isaiah's day.
I don't want to see but not see. I don't want to hear but not hear. I want to combine my hearing with faith and to take to heart what I hear - and obey. Just hearing the gospel, just hearing God's message isn't enough. It's important HOW we hear it. Do we combine our hearing with trust and obedience? Or do we listen with our own agenda in mind? Do we see with eyes that refuse to look farther than our own desires? Do we humbly listen, knowing we are needy, or do we think that we have something to offer Jesus?
There is danger here. The more we hear without really hearing, the more hardened our hearts become, the blinder and deafer we are. On the other hand, if we listen with longing and combine that listening with obedient faith (even a little faith), we will see and hear more and more.
How's your hearing today? Who are you looking at?
Give us eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts that are fixed on you, LORD.