Take Care How You Listen

Have you ever had a “whirlwind” day or two when you were interacting with a lot of people? You were tired physically, but even more, exhausted mentally. If you’ve ever stood at a booth in a trade show you know what I mean. Constant interaction with different people, answering questions, and pursuing relationships wear you out!

I thought about that as I read Luke 8 today. After teaching the crowds one day, Jesus gets into a boat with His disciples. He’s tired, and the sun is warm, and the gentle rocking of the boat soon puts Him to sleep. He’s rudely awakened a little while later as a storm descends on the Sea of Galilee and threatens to swamp the boat. His disciples call out in fear. I wonder if Jesus shook His head and sighed as He got up from His place of rest and rebuked the wind and waves, calming the storm. After asking the disciples, “Where is your faith?” did He go back to sleep? The disciples don’t know what to think – they are fearful and amazed.

A bit later they arrive. They step out in the Gerasenes’ country, because Jesus has a divine appointment with a man possessed with many demons. He lived in the tombs, unable to be restrained with chains. Today he would be diagnosed with schizophrenia and multiple personalities disorder, but there were no mental hospitals at that time. When Jesus approaches, the demons know exactly who He is. They know why He’s there and beg the Son of God to send them into a herd of swine rather than to their eternal punishment in the abyss. The demons know the end of the story. Because it’s not time yet to deal with them permanently, Jesus gives permission. The man is released from torment, and the neighbors come out to find him sitting in his right mind at the feet of Jesus. The man begs to remain with the Savior, but Jesus sends him home to share the good news. The people of the town, however, are filled with great fear and ask Jesus and His disciples to leave.

Jesus’ day isn’t over yet. They get into the boat and cross back over to Galilee, where He is met with large crowds. He is still caught on the shoreline, surrounded by the people, when a synagogue official named Jairus interrupts with a plea for Jesus to come and heal his daughter who is dying. Jesus agrees and they start toward the man’s home, the crowds still pressing in around Him. Along the way, Jesus perceives that someone has touched Him because healing power has gone out from Him. Her actions exposed, a woman confesses that by faith she had reached for the hem of His garment, believing He had power to heal her from a bleeding disorder. Indeed, the moment she touched Him she knew she was healed. Jesus compassionately assures her that she is made whole due to her faith and sends her away in peace.

Jesus’ day still isn’t done, but by the time He makes it to Jairus’ house, the child has died, and the mourners are already making noise. Jesus is never late, however, and tells them to stop weeping; the little girl isn’t dead but only sleeping. They laugh at Jesus. He ignores their mocking, gently takes the daughter’s hand, and tells her, “Child, arise!” Her spirit returns (for she was dead), and she gets up and eats. The parents are amazed…but we’re not told what the crowds thought.

Just a normal day in the life of the Savior – calming storms, casting out demons, healing life-long diseases, raising the dead. No wonder we often read that Jesus would slip away and spend hours in prayer alone with His Father! In His physical body, He had to be mentally and emotionally fatigued, yet because He was also fully God incarnate, He never missed a divine appointment.

What is consistent in these stories as the gospel writers unfold the three short years Jesus spent on earth is that every encounter caused a reaction from the people involved. Some were amazed. Some were frightened. Some asked Him to leave. Some laughed. Some went away shaking their heads and calling Him names, but others went gladly to their family and friends and shared the good news that they had met the Messiah.

What made the difference in their response? Faith.

Those who had even a tiny amount of faith to believe were granted more faith to see miracles happen, but the skeptics, the critics, and the detractors fell farther away. They dismissed what they were seeing with their very eyes and as a result, their hearts hardened as the poison of unbelief spread in their souls.

Jesus warned of the danger of rejecting even a glimmer of the knowledge of God. If God plants just a small seed of faith in you – Could this be true? Could Jesus be who He says He is? – what you do with that small seed affects you for eternity.

Luke 8:18 – So take care how you listen, for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.

Are you in a storm, fearing this is the end of life as you know it?

Are you tormented or oppressed, knowing you need more help than the doctor or pharmacist can provide?

Do you need healing?

Has all hope died?

God is still at work in our world; no matter how busy the day is, He won’t miss you or fail you. The Holy Spirit still speaks and still performs miracles in the hearts of those with faith to believe. What will be your response? Take care how you listen.

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