The Lord continues to comment on the fact that most of the
people accepted John's teaching as coming from God. But the
Pharisees and the interpreters of the law rejected John and the
purpose of God revealed through him. This caused Christ to say,
to what can I liken this generation? Nothing was right for them.
John the Baptist was too severe; Christ was too free and not strict
The Lord said they were like children playing in the market-
place who couldn't agree in their games to play either funerals
or weddings (verses 31-34). But he added:
'O wisdom is proved right by all her children'.
Luke now brings before us the invitation given by a Pharisee
to the Lord to dine with him and the anointing He received there.
The Evangelist has two other instances of Pharisees who invited
the Lord to meals (11:37, 14:1) and he alone gives them. This
Gospel has been called the Gospel of hospitality! When they had
reclined at table, a woman of ill-repute entered with a box of
expensive perfumed ointment. She had evidently been richly
blessed from the Lord's ministry and overcome with gratitude to
Him she stooped and anointed the Lord's feet, and the ointment
was mixed with her tears which she wiped away with her hair.
She kissed His feet, which was a mark of deep reverence,
especially to leading rabbis.
The Pharisee watched what was happening with evident
disapproval. Surely, he said to himself, this man cannot be a
prophet, otherwise he would have known the bad character of this
woman. The Lord Jesus, knowing all that was going on in His
host's mind, said to him:
'Simon, I have something to tell you' (verse 40).
The Pharisee replied that he was willing to listen, so the Lord
told him the story of the two debtors, one who owed a money-
lender a large sum, and another whose borrowing was small.
Upon finding that neither had sufficient money to pay him
back, the money-lender cancelled the debts of both of them.
'Which of them will love him more?' the Lord asked. Simon
could only reply, 'I suppose the one who had the bigger debt
cancelled'. The Lord told him his answer was correct and then
'"Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did
not give Me any water for My feet, but she wet My feet with her
tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give Me a kiss,
but this woman, from the time I entered has not stopped kissing
My feet. You did not put oil on My head, but she has poured
perfume on My feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have
been forgiven o for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven
little loves little"O (verses 44-47 N.I.V.).
The Pharisee had neglected a number of points of common
hospitality, and reflecting on the acts of both, which one loved the
Lord the more? The answer is obvious, and the Lord concluded
by saying to the woman, 'Your sins are forgiven'. 'She loved
much'. Her acts of love were an illustration or proof of her
loving gratitude, but were not the reason for the forgiveness. The
tense of the verb here (perfect passive) means that her sins had
already been forgiven and remained forgiven, in spite of the
Pharisee's judgment of her.
However, the guests, as on a previous occasion, said among
themselves, 'Who is this Who even forgives sins?' In their
blindness, they failed to recognize their long-awaited Messiah.
Soon after this the Lord Jesus made a second tour of Galilee,
but this time He had the Twelve with Him. Certain women who
had been healed from some disease went with them and their
devotion was prompted by gratitude. One was Mary Magdalene,
from whom the Lord had cast out seven demons, and this was
evidently a case of special malignity (see Mark 5:9). The
Evangelist goes on to tell us that they helped to support them
from their means (verse 3).
This is the only passage that informs us how the needs of the
Lord and His followers were met. Someone has said that this is
the first women's missionary society for the support of
missionaries of the gospel!
As the usual large crowd was gathering and people were
coming from the towns round about, the Lord commenced the
first great group of parables as given in Mark 4:1-34 and
There are ten of these parables in Mark and Matthew, but
only two in Luke (the Sower and the Lamp). The Sower is a key
parable as Mark 4:13 shows, 'Don't you understand this
parable? How then will you understand any parable?' In order
to understand them we must avoid the popular idea that these are
simple stories suitable for children. They were given with the
purpose of veiling the truth from the enemies who were
indifferent or actively hostile. Matthew 13:10-16 should be
carefully studied here as well as Luke 8:10.
The word parable (parabole from paraballo) means to place
alongside for measurement or comparison, and is an objective
illustration for spiritual or moral truth, throwing light on the truth
presented. Usually they give prominence to one point and other
details are more or less incidental. The Lord Jesus sometimes
explains these. When He does not do so, we should be careful
not to read into them what is not there.
All sorts of heresy have come from fantastic interpretations of
the parables. It will be helpful for the student to compare
Matthew's account (13:1-53) which gives more details of each
parable than we have in Mark and Luke.*
In answer to the disciples' request, Christ gives His
explanation of the parables (verses 10-15). The seed represents
the Word of God, relating to His earthly kingdom, and like all
God's words, must be truth. We must notice though that there
is not a 100% response, either through the fault of the listener, or
the activity of the great enemy of truth, Satan. And this is typical
of all sound ministry from this time onwards. If the ministry of
the greatest Teacher that ever lived did not produce 100% results,
we should not expect them either. Some servants of God get
depressed at the poor results following a faithful proclamation of
the Word, but God is sovereign, and results are in His hands, not
ours. Our responsibility is to faithfully proclaim it, and leave the
rest to Him. The apostle Paul wrote, 'I planted the seed, Apollos
watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor
he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things
grow' (1 Cor. 3:6 N.I.V.).
The wayside hearers' listening is spoiled by the devil
Those on the rock first receive the Word with joy, but there is
little earth there for good, healthy rootage and without this,
permanent growth is impossible. What causes these hearers to
fall away? Luke gives the answer. 'They believe for a while, but
in the time of testing they fall away' (verse 13). This testing
relates to the Word, as Matthew 13:20,21 and Mark 4:16,17
show. It is not just ordinary day by day difficulties. Later on,
Paul writes a similar thing when he refers to 'the offence of the
cross'. Such people cannot stand up to criticism and
persecution that come from believing, receiving the Word of God
and making it known.
The seed that fell among thorns is interpreted by the Lord as
representing those who receive the Word, but do not grow
spiritually, being choked by 'worries, riches and pleasures',
(verse 14); they remain immature, undeveloped and unfit for
service. Of themselves there is nothing wrong with money or
pleasure, but when these dominate the mind, they become the
great enemies of spiritual growth and fruitful service for the
Lord. 1 Timothy 6:6-11 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5 should be carefully
At last we come to a completely fruitful sowing in the good
ground (verse 15) and this revolves round the 'heart' or 'mind'
and shows the correct attitude of faith that not only believes the
Word, but works it out in practice and perseveres without being
turned aside and then produces good fruit.
'But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and
good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering
produce a crop' (verse 15 N.I.V.).
We should note that the Lord Jesus warns all not only to take
care what we hear, but how we hear (Mark 4:24; Luke 8:18).
Careless listening even to truth will produce nothing lasting.
Some things that are heard can be forgotten. Others should be
treasured and practised, should be heard and heeded.
Christ now gives the parable of The Lamp on a Stand:
'No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a
bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can
see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be
disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or
brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you
listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have,
even what he thinks he has will be taken from him' (verses 16-18
Choice truth was being given to the disciples, not to be kept
for themselves but passed on to others. This truth must shine out
to all around and be set up, like a lamp for all to see. It is
noteworthy that these sayings occur also in Matthew 5:15, 10:26
and 13:12 which only goes to show, as we have pointed out, that
the Lord repeated His truth on different occasions and this is
what one would expect where truth is concerned.
Luke now records that the Lord's mother and brothers came
to see Him, but could not get near because of the crowds. There
are three theories of the relationship of these men to Christ, (1)
that they were Joseph's sons by an earlier marriage; (2) that they
were cousins, sons of Mary's sister; (3) that they were children
of Mary and Joseph. The first and second views have been
advocated to avoid the third, to bolster up the doctrine of the
perpetual virginity of Mary, but there is no evidence for them.
The obvious sense here points to Mary being their mother.
Luke has already described Christ as Mary's firstborn son (2:7).
It is to be noted here that the Lord does not claim brotherly
relationship with the whole human race, although some like to
teach this. This relationship is limited to those who hear and
practise the Word of God (verse 21, and see Matthew 7:24). No
one is a child of God because of human parentage.
Such ties are temporal; it is spiritual ties which are eternal
Later on, the Lord Jesus proposes to cross the lake and the
disciples launch a boat and set out (verse 22). As they were
sailing, He fell asleep, evidently tired out and this may explain
the attempt of His relations to reach Him and rescue Him from
the crowds. He was exhausted by continuous work.
Suddenly a storm arose which was characteristic on the small
lake and such squalls were dangerous. It was like a miniature
tornado. The boat began to be swamped and the terrified
disciples called out to Him, 'Master, Master we are going to
drown'. The vivid present middle indicative makes it dramatic,
'we are perishing'. Something must be done quickly, and
aroused from sleep the Lord stood up and rebuked the raging
wind and waters, and immediately the storm ceased and all was
calm. This was even more dramatic than the suddenness of the
storm. Was the Lord just addressing His command to the wind
and waves, or were there behind it all, the powers of darkness,
seeking to destroy Him and His followers? Christ described
Satan as a 'murderer from the beginning' (John 8:44). So this is
not fanciful, especially as there had been other attempts to
The lack of faith on the part of the disciples was noted by the
Lord and He asked them, 'Where is your faith?' (verse 25). In
Matthew's account He said, 'You of little faith, why are you so
afraid?' (8:26). Little did they realize that they had the Creator
of the universe with them, and what room is there for fear when
He is present? The disciples were amazed, and from their
reasoning among themselves (verse 25) they still did not fully
realize Who He was.
They proceeded on their journey and sailed to the region of the
Gerasenes. The correct text here and in Mark 5:1 is Gerasenes
while Gadarenes is correct in Matthew 8:28. There is no real
discrepancy, since Dr. Thomson discovered by the lake the ruins
of Khersa (Gerasa). This village is in the district of the city of
Gadara, so it can be called after Gerasa or Gadara.
The Lord Jesus is immediately confronted with demonism. It
is a sad mistake that some make to explain this away by making
it refer merely to epilepsy. The powers of darkness are a terrible
reality (Eph 6:12), and because we know little of this form of
Satanic opposition, we should not think that it does not exist. It
was a prominent fact at Christ's first coming and the New
Testament makes it clear that it will be so again at the end of the
age just prior to His Second Coming. Satan will not allow these
momentous events to pass without every effort being made to
frustrate their great redemptive purpose. Consequently all the
Gospels witness to this fact. The accounts in Matthew 8:28,
Mark 5:2,3, and here in Luke 8:27 should be compared. The
case reported here was a specially bad one, for there was multiple
demon possession as in the case of Mary Magdalene.
* The reader is also referred to the author's exposition of these
parables in his commentary on Matthew (B.E. Vols. 51-55).