Outline of the Book:
I. Preface: The Method and Purpose of Writing, Luke 1:1-4.
II. The Identification of the Son of Man with Men, Luke 1:5-4:13.
A. The Announcement of the Birth of John the Baptist, Luke 1:5-25.
B. The Announcement of the Birth of the Son of Man, Luke 1:26-56.
C. The Advent of John the Baptist, Luke 1:57-80.
D. The Advent of the Son of Man, Luke 2:1-20.
E. The Adoration of the Baby, Luke 2:21-38.
F. The Advancement of the Boy, Luke 2:39-52.
G. The Baptism of the Son of Man, Luke 3:1-22.
H. The Genealogy of the Son of Man, Luke 3:23-38.
I. The Temptation of the Son of Man, Luke 4:1-13.
III. The Ministry of the Son of Man to Men, Luke 4:14-9:50.
A. The Announcement of His Ministry, Luke 4:14-30.
B. The Authority of His Ministry, Luke 4:31-6:11.
1. Over demons, Luke 4:31-37.
2. Over disease, Luke 4:38-44.
3. Over the disciples, Luke 5:1-11.
4. Over defilement, (a leper healed), Luke 5:12-16.
5. Over defectiveness, (a paralytic healed), Luke 5:17-26.
6. Over the despised, (the call of Matthew and parables about new vs. old), Luke 5:27-39.
7. Over days, Luke 6:1-5.
8. Over deformity, Luke 6:6-11.
C. The Associates of His Ministry, Luke 6:12-49.
1. The call of the disciples, Luke 6:12-16.
2. The characteristics of disciples, (The Great Sermon on the Plain), Luke 6:17-49.
D. Activities of His Ministry, Luke 7:1-9:50.
1. Ministry in sickness, Luke 7:1-10.
2. Ministry in death, Luke 7:11-17.
3. Ministry in doubt, Luke 7:18-35.
4. Ministry to sinners, Luke 7:36-50.
5. Ministry financed, Luke 8:1-3.
6. Ministry illustrated through parables, Luke 8:4-21.
7. Ministry in storms, Luke 8:22-25.
8. Ministry over demons, Luke 8:26-39.
9. Ministry in death and despair, Luke 8:40-56.
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III. The Ministry of the Son of Man to Men, Luke 4:14-9:50.
D. Activities of His Ministry, Luke 7:1-9:50.
5. Ministry financed, Luke 8:1-3, Three great women of Jesus’ ministry.
Luke 8:1-3, “Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, 2and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.”
“At this point in the story, Luke inserts an editorial note about the practical expression of faith on the part of genuine disciples. With His ministry on the move, the Twelve ministered alongside Jesus, while a band of women also followed—women whom Jesus had healed, released from demonic possession, or redeemed from sin and shame. The men had left their livelihoods to devote themselves to exclusive training as apostles. The women gave out of their own financial means to support the practical needs of Jesus and the Twelve. Like the “sinful woman” in the previous segment, these people gave tangible expression to their faith in the Messiah.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary – Luke.)
Jesus continues His ministry going from town to town “preaching the gospel of salvation,” KERUSSO EUANGELIZO, i.e., “the kingdom of God,” BASILEIA HO THEOS, so that people could identify with His death and thereby be entered into union with Him forever in heaven.
Luke also tells us that the 12 Apostles were with Him on this missionary journey. They were with Him to learn what and how to preach. Later, Jesus sent them out to minister on their own and gave them power and authority to do so, Luke 9:1-2. Spending time in the presence of the Lord, studying His Word, is still the most essential aspect of preparing for ministry and service today.
Not only were the 12 Apostles with Jesus, but several other women, GUNE, who were “healed,” THERAPEUO, “from evil spirits,” APO PONEROS PNEUMA, and “sicknesses,” ASTHENEIA.
These women, in appreciation for what Jesus had done for them, reciprocated in love by supporting His ministry. Apparently, they had come to believe in Jesus as their Messiah / Savior / King, and demonstrated their faith by serving in Jesus’ ministry.
The women mentioned here were either demon possessed, as we see Mary Magdalene was, or had some kind of illness or disease that they were healed from. In fact “Mary who was called Magdalene,” MARIA MAGDALENOS, had received exorcism of 7 demons by Jesus, “from whom seven demons had gone out,” HEPTA DAIMONION. To whom much is given, love much in return, Luke 7:47.
Here we are given two other great women, “Joanna the wife of Chuza,” IOANNA GUNE CHOUZAS, “Herod’s steward,” HERODES EPITROPOS, (a household servant, who had authority over land or people, or served as an underling manager over property that belonged to his employer), and “Susanna, SOUSANNA. In addition, there were “many others,” POLUS HETEROS, who “were contributing to their support,” DIAKONEO, “from their private means / possessions,” HUPOARCHO.
The Greek simply reads, “Who kept on ministering to them from their possessions.”
“Were contributing to their support,” is the Verb DIAKONEO, διακονέω that means, “serve, wait upon tables, minister, help, or serve as deacon.” It is the action word related to the Noun for Deacons. This is not a noun, so they were not considered “deacons.” The office of Deacon did not exist until soon after the Church Age began.
Here, it is in the Imperfect, Active, Indicative for the ongoing action of these supporters of Jesus’ ministry. All of them being moved by gratitude for their deliverance from “evil spirits and sicknesses,” served Jesus’ ministry “from their own possessions,” HUPARCHO, ὑπάρχω “have or possess.” They supported the ministry from whatever they had or possessed. This could range from their time, talent, or treasures, but mostly emphasizes their treasures or monetary gifts that they gave to the ministry for its support. Yet, because these women were following Jesus during His missionary journeys, we can assume that this included other forms of “serving,” the ministry as the needs arose from a group of people traveling long distances.
Our text tells us of three of these ministering women, but there are many more that are unnamed, unknown women, women with broken pasts, and women of position. All kinds of women served the Lord and supported his ministry. The Christian church would never have gotten off the ground if it were not for women. Churches around the world would have closed their doors generations ago if it were not for women. And our church would not exist today if it were not for the women who serve graciously and wonderfully.
Serving graciously is the pattern of Christian ministry from the beginning. It is a partnership to spread the Word by those who hear the Word. Everyone does one thing or another, because the entire aim is to spread the Word of Jesus Christ to those who have not heard. That is why the local church exists. Of all the things the Lord may call us to do; we must not fail to spread the Word because we have a partnership in the gospel, Phil 1:5-6. It is our business. We do not look for government support or resources from private foundations. We all assume collective responsibility for supporting the ministry in our local assembly, our neighborhoods, and beyond. Let us never be distracted or forget this partnership that we are in. Those who hear the Word should be part of spreading the Word.
As the Bible tells us, Jesus had no place or dwelling of his own, Luke 9:58, but it does not say He begged for food, clothing, or shelter. His needs were met by the kindness of relatives and friends like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna. Jesus trusted the Biblical principle also stated by Paul, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” Phil 4:19; cf. Mat 6:25-34.
This is our introduction to these women, which the Gospels later talk about, especially at the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. Let’s meet these three great women:
- Mary Magdalene.
She is mentioned 12 times in the NT. Mary, MARIA, Μαρία is the Greek that comes from the Hebrew MIRIAM that means, “rebellion, rebellious, or bitter.”
This architecturally Hellenized site lays 3 miles northeast of Tiberias. Because of its important dried fish industry, its Greek name was Taricheia, (Josephus, Life 403-4). Excavations have confirmed the urban character of Magdala and in 2009 considerable remains of a synagogue of the Second Temple era were excavated. Magdala is only directly mentioned in a few late manuscripts of Mat 15:39 and Mark 8:10. However, the places mentioned in the original text refer to a region lying further to the north. Given that this Mary was from the town of Magdala may give a clue that Jesus ministered there.
This Mary was a prominent disciple of Jesus who followed Him in Galilee and to Jerusalem. She is always listed first in groups of named female disciples and was the first person to whom the resurrected Jesus made an appearance, Mat 27:56, 61; 28:1; Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1, 9; Luke 8:2; 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1, 11-18. Her status is attested by the numerous references to her in early apocryphal and gnostic Christian literature
Although Jesus cast seven demons out of her, there is no Biblical evidence she was a prostitute or had a bad moral character, as is often assumed. In antiquity, demon possession was an indication of physical or spiritual illness; obviously, Mary Magdalene was quite ill before her encounter with Jesus.
Like the other women, all appear to have occupied a position of comparative wealth, and their chief motive was that of gratitude for their deliverance from “evil spirits and infirmities.” Of Mary it is said specially that “seven devils went out of her,” and the number indicates a possession of more than ordinary malignity.
And, although she came to the tomb of Jesus with embalming perfumes, she is not the same as the woman we just noted in Luke 7:36-50. When her name appears in Luke 8:2, there is not one word to connect it with the history immediately preceding, and the introduction of Mary in Luke 8 is quite removed topically from Luke 7:36. Likewise, she is not the Mary who anointed Jesus in Bethany.
Yet, she was one of the women at the Cross and was the first person to whom the resurrected Christ appeared, Mark 15:40; 16:9. Christ loved her, but no more than He loves anyone else, and the mythical story of being the wife of Jesus is completely false.
Her life of ministration brought Mary Magdalene into the closest companionship with Salome, the mother of James and John, Mark 15:40, and also with Mary the mother of the Lord, John 19:25. They “were standing at a distance, seeing these things,” Luke 23:49, during the closing hours of Christ’s agony on the Cross. The same close association that drew them together there is seen afterward. She remained by the Cross until Jesus’ death, and she waited until His body was taken down and wrapped in the linen cloth and placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, Mat 27:61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55. She, with Salome and Mary, the mother of James, “brought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him,” the embalming process of their day, Mark 16:1. The next morning they came to the tomb with the spices Mat 28:1; Mark 16:2, and found it empty. At that time the angels appeared telling them that Jesus had risen and to go tell the others, Mat 28:5; Mark 16:5. Mary with the other woman and told the disciples including Peter and John, Luke 24:10; John 20:1-2 and, returning with them, she remained after they went back. Looking into the tomb, she saw the angels, and she replied to their question as to her reason for weeping, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Turning back, she saw Jesus, but did not at first recognize Him. Then, when Jesus spoke to her she exclaimed, “Rabboni” (Teacher) and rushed forward to embrace His feet. Jesus’ response was, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father, Go tell my brethren…” John 20:17. Mary then went to the disciples and told them what she had seen and heard, John 20:11-18.
As such, to the very end, with unwearied devotion, with intent and eager willingness, with undaunted courage even in the face of dangers which broke the courage of the chosen Twelve, she followed and served her Lord. The actions of these women of whom Mary was one, in serving their Master’s need while in life, and in administering the last rites to His body in death, is characteristic of woman at her best.
- Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward.
“Joanna ,” IOANA Iωάνα, or IOANNA
Ἰωάννα meaning “YHWH has been gracious, grace or gift of the Lord,” is said in our verse to be “the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward,” that is Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee. “Chuza,” Chouzas, Χουζᾶς whose name means, “the seer or prophet,” is only mentioned here in the NT. We do not know anything else about him, or if the definition of his name is a title for him or just his name. Most likely, it is his name only and does not have any significance for the function or office of his life. We do not know if he accompanied his wife on her journeys following Jesus, or if he remained behind attending to his duties as Herod Antipas’ steward. Being the wife of a highly placed official in the court of Herod Antipas, perhaps the chief administrator of his estate, she may have been well able to contribute financially to Christ’s and the Apostles’ material needs.
As for Joanna, only Luke mentions her, as she is in our list of the “women who had been healed of evil spirits and illnesses.” Luke also notes her being with the other women who accompanied Jesus on His last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, and was present when His body was laid in the tomb Luke 23:55, as she was also among those who prepared spices and ointments to embalm His body, and who found the grave empty, and went and “told these things unto the apostles,” Luke 23:56-24:10.
Luke 24:10, “Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles.”
Although not mentioned by name, Joanna is most likely counted as one of the women who joined the disciples and Mary, the mother of the Lord, in the upper room in prayer. And was among the group of 120 who chose Matthias to fill the vacancy that was left by Judas, Acts 1:15f., as well as being present on the Day of Pentecost.
“Susanna,” Sousanna, Σουσάννα whose name means, “lily, rose, or joy,” is only mentioned here in Scripture. She too is one of several women who were healed by Jesus, and accompanied Him and the 12 on their travels and helped meet the group’s expenses. Apparently, she had a significant enough role to be mentioned by Luke and our Lord in this passage.
She remains a mystery to this day. While the early church may have known her well, we know nothing more than that she followed Jesus, provided tangible support for His ministry out of her own financial resources, and may have been among the women who prepared the body of Jesus for burial. Yet, she is only mentioned here.
In these three women, we see a picture of love and devotion to our Lord in appreciation and reciprocation for His healing forgiveness. They are beautiful examples of having a servant’s heart.
III. The Ministry of the Son of Man to Men, Luke 4:14-9:50.
D. Activities of His Ministry, Luke 7:1-9:50.
6. Ministry illustrated through parables, Luke 8:4-21.
Here we have three parables our Lord taught:
1. The seeds sown on various soils, vs. 4-15.
2. The Lamp that is not covered, vs. 16-18.
3. Who are our true family members, vs. 19-21.
The first parable is the great parable about the seeds sown on various soils that is also recorded in Mat 13:2-23; Mark 4:1-20. Some call this the “Parable of the Sower,” be we should call it the “Parable of the Soils,” because this parable puts the responsibility on the hearers of the Word, not the teachers. The emphasis is on those who receive the Gospel and Bible doctrine in their lives.
In this parable, we have four types of soil that seed is sown into. In the first half, Jesus tells the parable to the multitudes who had “gathered together,” (SUNEIMI, only used here). In the second half, Jesus explains the parable to the Apostles only, and for us, as it has been recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. So, we do not need to try to interpret this one, it has been interpreted for us. Nevertheless, we need to understand the message our Lord is teaching and apply it to our lives.
In this parable, we have a “sower,” SPEIRO, which can be anyone who is teaching or preaching the Word of God, (both the Gospel of Jesus Christ and/or Bible Doctrine), because the seed itself is the “Word of God,” vs. 11, and the sower is undefined by our Lord. So, the sower can be the Pastor/Teacher, Evangelist, or anyone in the Body of Christ, as we all are Royal Ambassadors for Christ with a commission to witness the Word of God, 2 Cor 5:20; Eph 6:20; 1 John 1:2; 4:14; 5:11; 3 John 1:3, 6, 12. Because the seed is the Word of God, it is good. Whether or not it bears fruit depends on the type of soil into which it falls, as we will see.
Then, we are given four types of ground or soil that the seed is sown onto:
- The Road/path, vs. 5, 12.
- Rocky Soil, vs. 6, 13.
- Amongst Thorns, vs. 7, 14.
- Good Soil, vs. 8, 15.
Along with the four types of soil, we have four outcomes of the seed sown on the various soils:
- Trampled underfoot, and the birds eat it, vs. 5.
- After growing a little, it withered away because of no moisture, vs. 6.
- Choked out because of the thorns, vs 7.
- Grew and produced a crop 100 times as great, vs 8.
In the explanation of the parable, our Lord tells us the cause of these four results:
- “The devil comes and takes away the word from their heart,” vs. 12b.
- “They receive the word with joy yet have no firm root,” 13b.
- “As they go on their way, they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life,” vs. 14b.
- “The ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart,” vs. 15b.
Our Lord tells of the literal four results:
- “They will not believe and be saved, vs. 12c.
- “They believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away,” vs. 13c.
- “They bring no fruit to maturity,” vs. 14c.
- “They hold fast the Word, and bear fruit with perseverance,” vs. 15c.
In this parable, the first is an unsaved person who remains that way, while the other three do receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ for eternal salvation and then have varying results in their spiritual walk.
1) In the first object lesson, “The Road Soil,” the seed gets “trampled underfoot,” which is the Verb KATAPATEO, καταπατέωthat means, “trample on, tread underfoot, or treat with disdain.” It is a compound word from the Preposition, KATA, “according to,” and the Verb PATEO that means, “to tread on, trample, or treat with contempt or disdain.” As such, our word is the emphatic use to emphasize the severity. It is used 5 times in the NT, once literally in Luke 12:1, and 4 times figuratively to generally convey the idea of “scornful neglect and rejection.”
- In Mat 5:13, for the “salt which has lost its savor.”
- In Mat 7:6, for “not casting our pearls before swine.”
- In Heb 10:29, for the “scornful disdain against Jesus Christ.”
Overall it means the ways and things of this world pack down in the heart of man so that Christ cannot take root within their soul, with the result that they reject Him and are even antagonistic towards Him.
In our verse, Luke 8:5, we see that this ground was packed hard by constant foot traffic, and the seed had little chance for growth. Birds ate the seeds before they could even sprout. As such, it explains the rejection of the Word of God, particularly the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is ignored and rejected by falsehoods and counterfeits from worldly people, i.e., those living inside of Satan’s cosmic system. As it says, the “birds of heaven, OURANOS, devour it, KATESTHIO,” that means, “consume, devour, eat up, or destroy.” In other words, Satan, and his minions do all that they can to taint the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which ranges from nullifying it in the minds of people, to counterfeiting it with false religions, philosophies, and systems, and everything in-between.
In our Lord’s explanation, He says the “birds of the air” are in fact, “The devil (DIABOLOS, “the devil, slanderous, false accuser, the adversary”), who comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.” These people heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, but because they are so influenced by the things of Satan’s world, including false religions, philosophies, sin, wealth, power, lusts, etc., they do not believe in the Gospel for salvation. The Gospel never enters the “heart,” KARDIA, the right lobe of the soul, for salvation. It comes into their “mind” NOUS, the left lobe of the soul, when they are told or taught the gospel, but they do not believe it and have it cycled to the right lobe of the soul where it would be if they believed it. Therefore, they remain unsaved.
This group fails at the hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
2) In the second object lesson, “The Rocky Soil,” we have the first group of “saved,” people, as they “received the Word with joy.” Unfortunately, this seed is on “rocky soil,” meaning a thin layer of soil covering a ledge of rock. In this case, the seed would sprout in the thin soil by the sun’s rays, but when the sun would continue to shine on it, it would also dry out rapidly, and the young shoots would wither and die. It means that these people believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but then, “as soon as it grew up, it withered away.” Therefore, the rocky soil represents shallow faith.
“Withered away,” is the Verb XERAINO, ξηραίνω that is used 12 times in the NT and means, “wither, dry up, or dry out.” In other words, disintegrates and is no longer useful. Our Lord’s explanation tells us that, “they believe for a while, and in time of temptation, (PEIRASMOS, πειρασμός “temptation or testing,” Luke 4:13 of our Lord), they fall away,” (APHISTEMI, ἀφίστημι, “cause to revolt, mislead, lead away, withdraw from, abstain from, depart, desert, or fall away”), because they “had no moisture,” (IKMAS, only used here, which is a another of Luke’s medical terms in these passages that figuratively means they had no Bible Doctrine in their souls to sustain them in times of temptation, trials, and tribulations).
“Many people accept Christ and His message into their lives. But when persecution or temptation or a seductive doctrine comes along, they turn from Him. Such people live on their feelings rather than on their convictions. They have discovered that it is not always easy to live the Christian life, although it is easy to start. This does not mean their original commitment to the Lord was not genuine. It means they did not let the kingdom of God take root in their hearts. Again, it is a choice. The obstacles that prevent faith from taking hold can be broken up and removed.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Luke).
This group succeeds at the hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but fails to receive the teaching of Bible doctrine immediately after their salvation.
3) In the third object lesson, “The Thorny Soil,” we have the second group, (two being the number of division), of believers who had some spiritual growth in their life, but unfortunately kept one foot inside of Satan’s cosmic system that eventually took over. The implication is both the thorns, (worldliness / Satan’s cosmic system / sin), and the good seed (Bible doctrine), “grow with each other,” and competed for space and nutrients inside the soul of the believer’s soul, where the thorns / Satan’s cosmic system / sin in the life of the believer, eventually over takes him and “chokes it (Bible Doctrine) out,” (APOPNIGO, “chokes out, cuts it off, overpowers, or kills”). In other words, the doctrine in this believer’s soul is eventually squeezed out where he becomes fruitless, as he once again functions exclusively inside of Satan’s cosmic system with all kinds of worldliness and sin in his life. Our Lord says, “they are choked with worries, (MERIMNA, “care, concern, anxiety”), and riches (PLOUTOS, wealth, riches, abundance”), and pleasures, (HEDONE, “pleasure, delight, strong desire, or lust”) of this life.” That is the definition of being overcome by Satan’s cosmic system. Matthew and Mark say these things are “deceitful,” and that they “choke out the Word” in the souls of people.
Luke 21:34, “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap.”
That is why you are to, 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
This is the person who is so wrapped up with the cares, riches, and pleasures of life that he cannot be totally committed to Christ. Earthly concerns are not necessarily bad in themselves, but they may drain your energy and turn you from Christ. Some are lured from Christ by the attraction of worldly pleasures. No matter how strong in faith a Christian is, he still cannot serve two masters, Mat 6:24.
As a result, these believers, “bring no fruit to maturity,” TELESPHOREO, τελεσφορέω, “bring fruit to completion or maturity.” Only Luke uses this word and only here. It is a compound word from TELEO, “to complete or finish,” and PHERO, “carry, bear, produce, or bring,” In other words, there is no Divine good production in their lives.
This group succeeds at the hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in the initial receiving of the teaching of Bible doctrine immediately after their salvation, but fails in the long haul to persevere with the intake and application of Bible doctrine, and eventually gave over to the Old Sin Nature.
4) In the fourth object lesson, “The Good Soil,” we have the third group, (the number of Divine perfection), of believers who receive the Word of God on a consistent basis and remain strong in it. Our Lord says, “They heard the Word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast and bear fruit with perserverance.”
An “honest and good heart,” uses two Greek words that both mean “good.” The first, KALOS, refers to beauty and nobility, the outward expression of goodness. The second, AGATHOS, good of intrinsic value, refers to perfection, completeness, and uprightness; the inward expression of goodness that leads to outward actions of Divine good production.
“Holds it fast,” tells us the good hearer understands the Word; he digs into the Word, meditates on it, and finds its true meaning, cf. Mat 13:23. The good hearer also receives the Word and it becomes a part of him, Mark 4:20. Luke says the good hearer keeps the Word; he holds onto it and puts it into practice.
These people had spiritual growth through the inculcation of Bible doctrine into their souls with application where they produced Divine good, the fruit of the Spirit, in their livers to the glory of God. The emphasis of their Divine good production is, “100 times as great,” which is the Greek Adjective HEKATONTAPLASIŌN, ἑκατονταπλασίων that means, “a hundredfold.” In other words, the seed that was sown in them, returned 100 more seeds. This is a general statement about their impact in the spiritual life in the lives of others while here on earth. In addition, our Lord states they had “perseverance,” HUPOMONE that means, “patience, endurance, steadfastness, or perseverance.” This is the first time this word is used in the NT, a first mention principle passage, and is used in Luke 21:19, and then extensively exclusively in the Epistles of the NT. It has the hint of persecution in its application, so it is “endurance in the face of persecutions.” It is also connected with confidence in God, His Word, and Plan for your life. Believers show God and others the quality of their Christian character and benefit themselves spiritually when they “endure patiently” the sufferings that come upon them because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
No plant grows to maturity overnight; neither does a Christian. But one who is truly Christ-like continues to be open to the living Word of God and will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Peter 3:18.
This group succeeds at the hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in the initial receiving of Bible teaching after their salvation, and perseveres in the long haul with the intake and application of Bible doctrine, where they grow to spiritual adulthood and produce Divine good.
Remember, everyone is accountable to God for the truth he hears, Rom 14:12. Each person must cultivate his own soil / heart of his soul. If one has no faith at hearing or applying the Word, it is because he does not give the seed any opportunity to grow within him, Mat 13:31, 32; 17:20. Hard-packed soil can be plowed and made ready for planting; rocks can be removed from stony soil; thorns and weeds can be plucked out by the roots. With proper attention, there is no reason any soil Jesus mentioned cannot become productive. Every believer can prepare the soil of his life, making it a place where the seed of God’s Word can grow and produce abundant fruit.
That is why our Lord said in vs. 8b, “… As He said these things, He would call out, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’.” This reminds us of the “great SHAMA,” for Israel to receive the Word of God and live by it daily. Obviously, our Lord meant more than the physical act of hearing with your ears. He was talking about hearing with your heart. Like Simon the Pharisee, Luke 7:36-39, many people have already made up their minds about who Jesus was and what their relationship to the kingdom of God would be.
2 Tim 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
Those who do not close their spiritual ears are the “good soil” souls, the ones who enter the kingdom of God, as a true disciple never stops listening to his Lord.
Luke 8:9-10, “His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 10And He said, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand’ (Isa 6:9).” Cf. Mat 13:11-17; Mark 4:10-12.
The title, “mysteries of the kingdom of God,” is used in all three synoptic gospels, Mat 13:11; Mark 4:11 and here. The word “mystery,” is the Greek word MUSTERION, μυστήριον that is transliterated into our English word. After these three uses, it is only used in the Epistles of the NT. Three main verses include Eph 3:1-6; Col 1:25-26; Rom 16:25-26. In the 5th century BC, a number of fraternities were developed in Athens and in other Greek city states, and these fraternities had a system of doctrine, (a.k.a., secrets), which they understood after their initiation to the fraternity that was not revealed to the outside world; therefore, the outside world did not understand them at all. They called their doctrines mysteries, which only they as members of the fraternity understood, yet people on the outside did not understand. This is actually the use of the word as we find it in the NT, Mark 4:11.
Mark 4:11, “And He was saying to them, ‘To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables’.”
Our “fraternity,” is called the Body of Christ, which is made up of individual believers. Because every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, they have the ability to understand the “secret things,” (mysteries), of God that are told and explained in the Bible, cf. Deut 29:29; Job 12:22; Psa 25:14; Dan 2:19-23, 28. Yet, because the unbeliever and reversionistic believer are not led by the Spirit, they cannot understand the Scriptures, even though they are in plain view, Mat 13:34-35; 1 Cor 2:9-10.
Mat 13:34-35, “All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, 35that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world’.”
1 Cor 2:9-10, “But just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him,’ (Isa 64:14). 10For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.”
In explaining this principle, Jesus quoted Isa 6:9-10. In that context, God foresaw Israel’s rejection of Isaiah’s message. It would be as though they never heard at all. Parables clarify nothing for those who choose to reject truth. It is not that God is deliberately hiding truth from them. They just do not have the spiritual desire or power to grasp the truth presented to them, cf. Jer 5:21; Ezek 12:2. Unless a person in faith allows the Holy Spirit to anoint his understanding, the things of God are foolishness to him, 1 Cor 2:7-8, 12-13, 15.
1 Cor 2:7-8, “But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
1 Cor 2:12-13, 15, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 15But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.”
Unwilling ears will not hear the Kingdom’s secrets, and covered eyes will not see it, Mat 13:11-15, because the message of the Kingdom is a summons to repent and believe., 1 Cor 2:14.
1 Cor 2:14, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”
Therefore, Jesus said His disciples would “know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.” A “mystery” is a fact or truth revealed only to the initiated. Those who have no spiritual discernment cannot understand God’s truth. Thus, the disciples would see truth in the parables; others would only see them as entertaining stories.
Basically, there are nine mysteries which are found in the NT, (i.e. doctrines which are known to those who are on the inside, but not known to those on the outside).
- The mystery of the Body, Eph 3:1-11.
- The mystery of the Bride, Eph 5:28-32.
- The mystery of the Church, Eph 3:9; 5:32; Rev 1:20.
- The mystery of the indwelling of Christ, Eph 3:3-4; 5:32; Col 1:26-27; 2:2; 4:3.
- The mystery of faith and/or godliness, 1 Tim 3:9, 16, that is linked to the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, with the famous Christ-hymn that summarizes the gospel story of Jesus, vs. 16.
- The mystery of the translation/Rapture of the Church, 1 Cor 15:51-57.
- The mystery of the blindness of Israel, Rom 11:25.
- The mystery of the kingdom of heaven, Mat 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10; Eph 6:9; Col 2:2; 4:3.
- The mystery of Lawlessness, 2 Thes 2:7; Rev 17:5, 7.
In our synoptic passages, the facts of the parable were simple and familiar, and the disciples needed to discover its application. Yet, we also see that opposition to Jesus had already begun by this time, and of the multitudes that followed Him, it was clear that many were not genuinely interested in spiritual truth. So, Jesus spoke in parables so that the “insiders,” the positive believers, would understand the spiritual content of the message, where the “outsiders,” unbelievers and reversionistic believers, would not, because their souls were trampled underfoot, rocky, or thorny.
This parable also reassures the “good soil,” (positive believers), that even if some of their efforts seem to be wasted, in the end there would be a great harvest. Those who sow must not become disheartened, 1 Cor 3:6-8.
1 Cor 3:6-9, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 8Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
Finally, Luke leaves out the last part of Isa 6:10, that the other two synoptic record, Mat 13:15b, “… otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.” And Mark 4:12b, “…otherwise they might return and be forgiven.” This is the alternative to their rejection of not hearing and seeing. If they would just have a little faith, they would see the Christ / Messiah / Savior / King, have their sins forgiven, and be healed for salvation, thereby understanding the “mysteries,” and given entrance into the Kingdom of God.
6. Ministry illustrated through parables, Luke 8:4-21.
b. The Lamp that is not covered, vs. 16-18.
In Luke 8:16-18, though a new analogy and parable, this one concludes our Lord’s response to the disciples when they questioned Him about the parable of the “Four Soils” in vs. 9. We could call this one, “The More we Hear, The More we Receive; The Less we Hear, The More We Lose.”
After teaching the parable about the “Four Soils,” Luke adds our Lord’s parable about the lamp on the lampstand, that Mark also writes about it in the context of the four soils, Mark 4:21-25, yet Matthew records it after the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount in Mat 5:14-16, right after vs. 13, that talks about the one who rejects the Word being “trampled underfoot.” Matthew emphasizes the practical application of the imagery.
Mat 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Luke also records our Lord’s use of this parable in Luke 11:33-36, in the context about what we put into our souls, either God’s Word, (i.e., light) or the ways of the world / Satan’s cosmic view point and sin, (i.e., darkness).
Luke 8:16, “Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light.
“Lamp,” is the Noun LUCHNOS, λύχνος that is used 14 times in the NT both literally and figuratively. It is used literally in our passages and the ones noted above, being a clay jar or dish filled with olive oil and having a wick that burns the oil to produce light. Yet, it has the analogy of the Word of God that powers the spiritual life of the positive / “Good Soil,” believer, which is to be exhibited within your soul to others outwardly. It is also used in Rev 18:23; 21:33; 22:5, for our Lord Jesus Christ, our God, who will be the only light of the eternal state.
Rev 21:23, “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”
Rev 22:5, “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.”
Therefore, the true light is God and His Word, (our Lord Jesus Christ and His mind, Bible Doctrine), that should be resident within your soul, John 8:12; 9:15.
John 8:12, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life’.”
John 9:5, “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”
Now that Christ has ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father, He indwells every believer of the Church Age and gives them His Word, so that they can “carry the torch,” and be the “lights of the world,” Mat 5:14a, “You are the light of the world.” The “good soil” believer fulfills this responsibility.
“Lampstand,” is the Noun LUCHNIA, λυχνία. It was the stand on which the jar of clay filled with oil to burn would be placed on, to elevate the lamp so that it increases the lights illumination in all directions. This is the elevation of the positive believer to witness the Word to those in darkness.
The vital function of lamps and lampstands in the ancient world was taken for granted. It was in such a context that Jesus illustrated the role of His disciples in the world, Mat 5:15; Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16; 11:33. The disciples are to have an illuminating effect upon their environment,” even as the lamp set on its stand lights up the darkness. As Mat 5:14-16, tells us, anyone who has heard the Word of God must let his light shine to those who are still in darkness. And the Lampstand elevates the lamp so that more can be illuminated. In other words, the higher the lamp the more people see, the higher your spiritual growth, the more others will receive of the Gospel and God’s Word.
In Rev 1:12-13, 20; 2:1, 5, the seven churches are spoken of as “seven golden lampstands.”
Rev 1:20, “As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”
Rev 2:5, “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand (i.e., church) out of its place—unless you repent.”
If the people of a church go into reversionism and remain that way, God will remove that church either literally, or by taking away that Pastor who is teaching the truth of the Word, allowing falsehoods to be taught instead.
Therefore, we should not “cover up,” KALUPTO, (cover, hide, or conceal), the light that is being taught to us by putting it under a “container,” SKEUOS (any earthen vessel, i.e., the flesh) or putting it “under a bed,” HUPOKATO KLINE, (an object to recline or lie on, i.e., laziness in the spiritual life). Therefore, we should not be lazy about our spiritual walk, living for the cares of this world instead, in the neglect of our intake and application of God’s Word.
Instead, our Lord instructs us to make the light in us visible to all, “put on a lampstand, so that those who come in (EISPOREUO) may see (BLEPO) the light (PHOS).” In other words, for those you come in contact with daily, you should be illuminating their souls with the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, either through your words or your deeds, as good soil believers, whether it be within the church or outside the church.
Luke 8:17, “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”
“Hidden,” is the Adjective KRUPTOS, “hidden, secret, or concealed.” Here it is linked with the negative Particle OUK. “Secret,” is its cognate synonym, APOKRUPHOS, that is only used here, Mark 4:22, and Col 2:3, that tells us in Jesus are “all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” i.e., Bible Doctrine.
Col 2:2-3, “That their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Therefore, the hidden and secret things are Jesus and His Word, (i.e., Bible Doctrine), that should be resident within your soul. This plays off of vs. 9, “the mysteries of the kingdom of God,” that can be known by men when they know God’s Word through faith and the leading ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
Then Jesus says that these mysteries, “hidden and secret things” will be, “known and come to light,” GINOSKO in the Aorist, Passive, Subjunctive, and ERCHOMAI, in the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive, with PHANEROS, “visible, clear, plain, or known.”
This passage can speak to both the righteous things, (light / holiness / the Word), and the unrighteous things, (darkness / sin), eventually becoming visible or known in the life of that person. Yet, the main idea is that the Word of God in your soul, will one day come to be known by all, as God, in His timing, will make it known to those who have rejected Him, His Son, and His Word. One day, (the day of God’s judgment), those who have rejected Him will come to know His great plan of salvation and the only means of the spiritual life. But, at that time, it will be too late for them.
Yet, the Word reveals everything. We cannot hide things from God. “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all,” 1 John 1:5. And, He sends His Word into the world and it exposes the darkness, John 3:19-21. As such, God shares His secrets with us, not for us to hide them, but so we can teach them to others.
Luke 8:17, “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.”
This is a promise of blessing for the “good soil,” believers, and a warning of judgment against the “trampled,” unbelievers, and “rocky and thorny soil,” believers.
In principle it means, the more of God’s Word we hear, the more of it we receive. The more we neglect God’s Word, the more of it we lose. If we receive carelessly, we will have nothing to give. We will be like a lamp without oil.
It begins with BLEPO POS AKOUO, “See/watch/notice how you hear/listen/learn.” It is an exhortation to self-examine our mode of operation for taking in and applying God’s Word. We must be honest with ourselves about how we are learning God’s Word and applying it in our lives; looking for ways of improvement.
The blessing and warning are as follows: If we are doing a good job of consistently learning and applying God’s Word with perseverance, we will have a greater spiritual life in time and eternity with added rewards and blessings. Yet, if we are doing a bad or poor job of learning and applying God’s Word, there will be loss in our lives: loss of an effective spiritual life and loss of blessings and rewards in time and eternity.
Interestingly, “shall be taken away from him,” uses the Future, Passive, Indicative of the Verb AIRO, αἴρω that was also used in vs. 12, for the birds of the air, i.e., Satan, who “takes away the word from the heart” of the unbeliever. Therefore, if you allow Satan to take the Word away from your soul, then God allows him to take away whatever Word that remains in your soul, along with any rewards and blessings you otherwise would have received. Therefore, if we think that we are a “good soil” believer, yet are not taking in and applying God’s Word as we should, we truly will not be a good soil believer and will become a thorny or rocky soil believer with all that goes along with those analogies.
“Imagine a man sitting in a dark room, proudly clutching what he believes to be a massive stack of bills which he estimates to be worth at least ten thousand dollars. Then imagine someone turning on the overhead light to reveal that nothing is printed on the paper. The fool suddenly lost his illusion of wealth. The light of truth took from him what he thought he had.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary – Luke.)
Jesus cautioned that we could lose the Word and spiritual power He previously gave to us. A “good soil” person is faithful to keep the Word. Only “good soil” hearers are able to overcome the enemy, Satan, and reap the blessings God’s Word promises.
Mat 5:16 adds the exhortation for the believer to, “Let your light so shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Therefore, the disciples who hear Jesus’ teachings are to reveal them to others, to give the “light,” (truth), they have received.
It is not like we hear the Word at one time and can live on it for the rest of our lives. We have to keep replenishing the store, stocking the shelves of our heart, so that we always have something to feed on. We are either going forward in the things of God or we are going backward. There is no neutral ground. The more we hear, the more we receive. The less we hear, the more we lose.
Therefore, we must be careful what we do with what we hear. The hearing or receiving of God’s Word can be as ineffective as the seed sown on the trampled roadway, vs. 12. It can take root but soon die for lack of depth in our spiritual lives, vs. 13. It can be choked by the cares, riches, and pleasures of life, vs. 14. Or it can find good soil in us and produce much fruit; Divine Good Production. The sower’s responsibility is to share God’s Word, especially the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The hearer’s responsibility is to have the soil of his heart prepared to receive the Word and use it most effectively. Therefore, while the truth of the Gospel will be vindicated in the end, the primary point is the accountability placed upon the hearer to respond correctly. As such, Jesus concludes with another somber warning to emphasize the grave responsibility of choice. Those who respond to the light they have been given, will receive more light. Those who reject the light they have been given, choosing darkness instead, will lose what light they think they have.
So the lesson is; we need to continually pour the Word of God into our souls to keep our tanks filled. The more we receive God’s Word, the more of it we get. The more we develop an appetite for Scripture the more we hunger for it. The more we give ourselves, the more we receive.
“Isn’t this a perfect description of how we sometimes find ourselves spiritually dry? We did not intentionally set out for a desert place. We woke up one morning a little late, running behind for work, so we skipped our quiet time. We could still smell the fumes from the gas of yesterday’s quiet times, so we had a pretty good day despite not reading and pondering the Word that morning. The second morning we thought, It went well yesterday, so I’ll sleep in again. On the third morning we felt a little guilty so we thought we’d at least get a little snippet of the Word into the morning. We rush our spiritual feeding like a man grabbing a piece of toast for breakfast as he runs out the door. The fourth day you have your quiet time, but it’s less rewarding than it was last week. Now reading God’s Word feels harder. Praying is more difficult. So you miss another day or two before trying to press your way back into the Bible. Before you know it, a couple weeks have passed since you fruitfully received God’s Word. You had just a little of the Bible, and more of it was taken away. You’ve been losing all the while and now you’re wondering, How do I get it back? The promise of the first half of verse 18 is that if you start with at least getting some of the Bible, then you will want more of the Bible. Water the dry places of your heart with the Scriptures, and the desert will bloom with truth. The more you water, the more you flower. The more you flower, the more you water.
Feed on God’s written Word. Feed on it daily and several times a day. Let us not rest on sermons and studies from yesterday or last week or last year. Let us keep a fresh word in our hearts and minds by reading it and hearing it every day.” (Christ-Centered Exposition – Exalting Jesus in Luke).
6. Ministry illustrated through parables, Luke 8:4-21.
c. Who are your true family members, vs. 19-21.
This completes the lessons regarding the Four Soils, where in vs. 19-21, Luke uses the interaction of Jesus and His earthly family to teach us of our greater family which is the heavenly one, i.e., the Royal Family of God.
This lesson is paralleled in Mat 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35. It reinforces both the parable of the Four Soils, vs. 14-15, and the image of those who have the Word in their soul as light, in vs. 16-18.
Luke 8:19, “And His mother and brothers came to Him, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd.”
Here, we see that Jesus’ “mother,” METER, Mary and His “brothers,” ADELPHOS, were following His ministry. This most likely occurred in Capernaum. This reminds us that Jesus had half-brothers and sisters, according to Scripture, as Mary had multiple other children with Joseph, Jesus’ adoptive father, Mat 1:25; 13:55-56; Mark 6:3; John 2:3-5, 12; 7:3, 5, 10; Acts 1:14; 12:17; 1 Cor 9:5; Gal 1:19; James 1:1.
Mat 13:55-56, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56And His sisters, are they not all with us?”
Mark 6:3, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?”
John 7:3, “Therefore His brothers said to Him, ‘Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing’.”
John 7:5, “For not even His brothers were believing in Him.”
Interestingly, Scripture indicates that Jesus’ half-brothers were unbelievers prior to His crucifixion and resurrection, but afterwards became believers and great workers of the early church, Acts 1:14; 12:17; 1 Cor 9:5; James 1:1; Jude 1:1. There unbelief may be why they wanted to remove Him from the crowd in Mark 3:20-21.
In addition, we see that Mary was not a “perpetual virgin,” as the heresy of the Catholic Church teaches, as they pray to her and venerate her as the “Mother of God,” in their false man-made religious doctrines. God has no mother. God was not created or born. She was the mother of the humanity of Jesus Christ, and she had 4 other sons and at least 2 daughters. It is remarkable that in the only two instances in which Mary figures in the ministry of Jesus prior to His crucifixion, here and the wedding at Cana, John 2:1-11, she is seemingly reproved by Him. This fact not only rebukes those who worship her, but corrects their false doctrine of her immaculate conception.
Jesus’ brothers’ unbelief and Mary being reproved gives context for what is to come.
Luke 8:20, “And it was reported to Him, ‘Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see You’.”
“Standing outside,” is the Perfect, Active, Indicative of the Verb HISTEMI with the Adjective EXO. The Perfect tense gives us a sense that they had been waiting for some time, as they “wished / desired” THELO, to “see / meet with,” EIDON, Him. This goes with vs. 19, “to get to Him,” that uses the Hapaxlegomena Verb SUNTUNCHANO, συντυγχάνω in the Aorist, Active, Infinitive that means, “to meet with.” Therefore, they wanted to meet with Jesus and had waited for Him, but the “crowds,” OCHLOS, prevented them.
The use of EXO here is interesting, as it is literally used in the NT for a place or position in reference to another. In this case, they were outside the house Jesus was teaching from and behind the crowd around Him. But, it is also predominately used in a spiritual sense for not believing in Jesus Christ, being outside in faith as it were, cf. Mat 23:25-27; Mar 4:11; Luke 11:39-40; 13:25; 1 Cor 5:13; Col 4:5; 1 Thes 4:12; 1 Tim 3:7; Rev 22:15.
Mark 4:11, “And He was saying to them, ‘To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables’.” And remember that Jesus was crucified for our sins “outside the gate of Jerusalem,” where the unbeliever should seek Him, Heb 13:11-13.
So, here we see the unbelief from His brothers, who were “outside,” rather than inside listening to the message He was teaching.
After Jesus “was told,” APANGELLO, that they were outside and wanting to see Him, our Lord made the following statement in vs. 21. The other Gospels, Mat 12:48; Mark 3:33, record He first asked, “Who is my mother? And who are my brothers?”
This may seem like a harsh response from Jesus, but He knew why they had come. They did not come to hear Jesus preach. In fact, they did not even go into the house, although the crowd may have been the reason for that. From other Scriptures, it is possible they felt embarrassed by His extravagant claims and assertions of messiahship and authority, and wanted Him to come home, away from the crowds. Some think this was to protect Him from those who did not believe, but they might have been embarrassed regarding His ministry, Since 4 brothers, two or more sisters, and His earthly mother came to get Him. Force in numbers!
Nevertheless, this is not an insult, a “dig,” or a “slight” towards His family members, but was intended for an encouragement to the other disciples and followers who were there. Without dishonoring His human family, especially His mother, Jesus elevated the status of those who receive the gospel and put it into action. He was merely using the occasion to announce how anyone can gain access to Him.
Luke 8:21, “But He answered and said to them, ‘My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it’.”
Jesus’ replies with a proverbial-style remark that indicates where His family can be found. He does not get up and go see His family. Instead He remains and preaches to the people this important lesson. This is a similar response He had told His mother in His youth, “I must be about my Father’s business,” Luke 2:49. It was no different now. Preaching the gospel of the Kingdom was more important than pleasing His mother, especially if pleasing her would have kept Him from fulfilling His mission.
As we noted above, it is very likely that Mary and the others were concerned for Jesus’ safety and well-being, or for their own reputations. But Jesus was not building reputations. He was building spiritual relationships. Mary and her other children would have to learn this the same way anyone else does.
This underscores the importance of responding to the Word of God in faith, not just with intellectual understanding, but with application in your life. Those who “hear the Word of God, and do it” are His spiritual kinsmen. The Bible states that those who want to walk with God need to have their thinking refashioned along biblical lines, Rom 12:2.
Rom 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Jesus makes the point of the necessity of hearing and doing the Word. And those to whom He feels closest to, those He considers His family, are those who do God’s will by applying the Word / Bible Doctrine in their lives.
“Those who hear the Word of God and do it,” are His family members. Luke uses, AKOUO for “hearing,” which means, learning through the ear gate, and POIEO for “doing it,” which means, application of the “Word of God,” LOGOS HO THEOES, i.e., Bible doctrine resident within your soul. This emphasis on hearing and doing is common, Luke 6:47-49; James 1:22-25. So, those who take into their souls and apply Bible doctrine to their lives are the ones who are considered by Jesus to be His family.
The application of this passage is simple enough: Do not just listen to God’s Word or study it, but apply it. The walk of faith does not involve an intricate knowledge of theology for debate. It involves engaging life with an incarnation of the character of God as revealed in His teaching. God’s will for us is that we be so responsive to Him that we reflect His character. This is being conformed to the image of Christ, which is our mission.
Luke 11:28, “But He said, ‘On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it’.”
Our Lord’s reply might have been shocking to some, but very encouraging to others. At this point, Jesus sets aside earthly family relationships for eternal/heavenly family relationships. When He says, “Who are my brethren?” He is saying, “With whom will I be related to forever?”
The first aspect of being in the family of God is to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, believe in Jesus as Savior. That is the first “doing” of the Word as we believe in faith the Gospel, in relation to our sins and lives.
One reason He included His mother here, is that motherhood is an intimate relationship that comes by physical birth. He is related to all of these through physical birth. And when He says, “These are My mother…,” he is referring to the fact of spiritual birth where anyone who believes becomes part of His family, John 3:3-7. He is saying, “these” are born again, and that “His mother and His brethren are those who are born again.” In addition, those who are born again are those with whom He will have an eternal fellowship.
Remember, at the time He says this, none of His four brothers and none of His sisters are saved. And so, they are unbelievers, but the disciples to whom He refers to here are born again. Therefore, His real family is not the family of physical birth, but the family of the new birth. And once again, He hits the Pharisees who were there, according to the other gospel accounts, right between the eyes.
The Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Scribes: How did they get their jobs? They were born of aristocratic families. They were related to the proper people, they were in the proper families, they were in the social register which was nothing more or less then the Sanhedrin. And Jesus is saying once again to the Pharisees, “You are aristocrats, you have family relationships, you were born from an aristocrat.” My true aristocracy is made up from regeneration. It is not who your father and mother were from physical birth, it is “What you think of the Christ?”
At salvation, the Holy Spirit enters us into union with Christ which makes us Royal Family. The baptism of the spirit is identification with Christ as royalty, John 14:20; Acts 1:5; 2:3; 11:15‑17; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:26‑28; Col 2:12. Therefore, for the Church Age believer, we are members of the Royal Family of God. The result of the Baptism of the Spirit is positional truth. Positional truth means the believer is positionally with Christ at the right hand of the Father. We are accepted positionally as royalty just as Christ is accepted in fact as royalty. We share all that Christ is and has as royalty in union with Him.
So here, Jesus pointed out that this family relationship does not come through birth or even the circumstance of having heard the gospel. To have heard God’s word is of no value, Luke 8:4–7, 11–14, unless accompanied by “faith.” Yet, even faith for salvation is of only temporary value, as Luke 8:13-14 reveals, unless it is a faith that puts God’s Word into practice continually with perseverance, vs. 15. Their Luke described this kind of faith as a faith “with a noble and good heart” which perseveres.
Therefore, entrance into the Family of God begins with faith that the Gospel has paid for your sins and through it you have eternal life. That faith must then continue to flourish in your soul, as you learn more and more of God’s Word and “do it,” / apply it to your life. True faith endures. It perseveres. It puts into practice the teachings of that faith. Luke believed that we are indeed saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves will never be alone in the life of the “good soil” believer. That faith is accompanied by action, James 2:17, expresses itself through love, cf. Gal 5:6, and puts God’s Word into practice, vs. 21.
It is one thing to read the Bible or hear a sermon. It is quite another thing to put it into practice. Obedience to the Word of the Lord comes easiest to the one who has a love relationship with the Lord of the Word, Jesus, and with His Father. And today we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to make that Word real in our hearts, John 14:23-26. When that happens, we become noble and good members of the Spiritual Family of Jesus Christ.
The Objective of the Royal Family on Earth.
- The first objective of the believer is to take in doctrine on a consistent basis until he begins to have a personal love for God. This develops spiritual self‑esteem.
- Next, the believer must continue to grow spiritually by the intake of doctrine until he has developed spiritual autonomy, the virtue of impersonal love toward other members of the human race.
- Then he must pass the momentum tests: people testing, thought testing, system testing and disaster testing.
- Finally, he must reach spiritual maturity, where he is blessed by undergoing evidence testing, thus becoming a witness against Satan.
- At spiritual adulthood, we receive our blessings which were deposited in escrow in Christ in eternity past, Eph 1:3‑14. These blessings glorify God to the maximum. God may even test us concerning these blessings as evidence against Satan. This is the objective of the Royal Family while on earth.
Now, both Matthew and Mark record our Lord’s added emphasis to this lesson. For example, in Mat 12:49-50, “And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, ‘Behold My mother and My brothers! 50For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother’.”
Mark’s differs only by using “God,” rather than “My Father who is in heaven,” as Matthew does. Both record this teaching earlier in Jesus’ ministry, right after selecting the 12, being accused of being possessed by Beelzebul, (i.e., Satan), because He was casting out demons, teaching on the unpardonable sin of rejecting Jesus as Savior, and in Matthew, rebuking the Pharisees along with the current generation for not believing in God’s plan of Salvation.
When Jesus stated, “For whoever does the will of my Father,” the will of the Farther is defined by 1 John 3:23, “That you believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.” Therefore, it begins by believing in Jesus Christ as your Savior. The emphasis is on regeneration, this is how we enter the new Royal Family.
We are also exhorted to “do the will of God,” in Eph 6:6; Heb 10:36; 1 Peter 2:15; 4:2, 19; 1 Thes 4:3; 1 John 2:17. This is our post-salvation exhortation, to persevere with the intake and application of God’s Word.
1 Peter 4:2, “So as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”
Eph 6:6, “Not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.”
Heb 10:36, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”
1 John 2:15-16, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
John 7:14-18, “But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. 15The Jews then were astonished, saying, ‘How has this man become learned, having never been educated?’ 16So Jesus answered them and said, ‘My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. 18He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him’.”
God has three wills we see in the Bible: Directive, Permissive, and Overruling, see Num 22, the story of Balaam. All three glorify God, yet only by being in the “directive will” of God do we glorify Him and are blessed.
“Doing it,” also reminds us of Mat 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
“What we read in the Word of God redefines our relationships and our loyalty. The active obedience of the Christian to the Word of God actually creates in the Christian a higher loyalty than our closest earthly relationships. The Lord points us to the fact that there is a greater Father to whom we owe the highest loyalty. Our heavenly Father comes before our earthly mothers and brothers. The more we obey God’s Word, the more we have in common with others who obey God’s Word. We find ourselves closer to those who obey God’s Word than we are to our blood relatives who do not believe.” (Christ-Centered Exposition – Exalting Jesus in Luke).
Luke 12:51-53, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; 52for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. 53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Luke 14:26-27, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
“Hate,” MISEO, does not mean we are to hold malice or bitterness or anger toward our families. Often it is used in the Bible to mean, “love less,” as Matthew’s record shows in Mat 10:37.
Mat 10:34-39, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household, (Micah 7:6). 37He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
Naturally and Biblically, we are to love our families and ourselves. Yet, Jesus gave the two major reasons people have for not committing themselves to Him: love of family and love of self. When we love our family or ourselves more than we do God and His Word, we are outside of our right relationship with God and are missing out on what God has designed and intended for us.
The real issue is priority more than feeling. Christ must come first in the life of His disciples. No one who follows Jesus with divided loyalties and halfhearted effort can successfully be His disciple. James 1:8 says, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Luke 16:13 and Mat 6:24 tell us, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
We also have the promise of great blessings and rewards when we put God and His Word as our number 1 priority in life, Mat 19:28; Mark 10:29-30.
Mat 19:29, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.”
Mark 10:29-30, “Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.”
We have to have a sense of priority in our commitment to follow God. That may mean the pain of separation from earthly family. The tension between the calling of God and family requires a constant assessment of what honors God most.
It is not that you love your family less than you do today. It is that in Christ, we now have a new family with whom we try to live out God’s Word. The Word of God forges new bonds and affections that natural families point to and symbolize.
And you know God’s Word is doing its work in your heart when you share a stronger bond with your brothers and sisters in the church than your blood relatives who do not believe. The Word of God learned and obeyed holds out the promise of a new and better family. The Word creates family, an eternal and everlasting family in Christ. You receive brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers one hundred-fold through the Word of God. That is what the local church is to be; the Family of God united by obedience to the Word.
Summary – Conclusion.
So, Luke 8:21, marks the end of a single episode before changing the setting. This entire section began with a seemingly disjointed reference to the devotion of disciples and the support of dedicated women, vs. 1-3. Jesus then taught that about the four types of soil that speak to the heart of man in either receiving His Word or rejecting it. The receptive heart bears the fruit of the Gospel while the others fail to yield anything, vs. 4-15. After that He taught that we have the light of God in us and we are His light that should not be hidden away but put on display so that those in darkness (sin) might be able to see the gospel, (receive salvation), vs. 16-17. In addition, He taught that everyone is responsible for their response to the seed / light they receive because, one day, we will be held accountable and be either rewarded or have loss of reward, vs. 18. Finally, Jesus concluded by emphasizing the new family relationship we have in Christ, that we should walk in and enjoy, as we are now a member of the Royal Family of God.