Red Letter Year: 7/17

Luke 8:19-25

19 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they couldn’t get to him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to see you.”

21 Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”

Courtesy of Barta IV, Photographer

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. 23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. 25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?”

The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”


One of the harder parts about doing this Red Letter Year is breaking the text into manageable chunks. I want to keep them short enough that you can spend time with each piece, but this often means cutting across a point the writer was trying to make in putting certain stories or teachings together. Today’s reading includes a bit that Luke wanted us to read alongside the sower parable and another bit he wanted us to read with Gersasene man’s deliverance.
Reading about Mary and Jesus’ siblings coming to see him in Mark and Matthew, it can sound like they were antagonistic to his teaching and were coming to stop him and take him home. Luke drops all that. Mary has faith in Jesus in Luke’s account. Her son’s ministry fulfills the prophecy she spoke at the beginning of Luke’s account. For Luke, this short account serves to further drive home the importance of Jesus’ followers being bearers and spreaders of the seed that is the word of God. It also serves to highlight again that this work belongs fully to followers of both genders. Mary and Jesus’ sisters are full participants in spreading the Gospel and leading in his new kingdom.
Just as Luke treats Mary and Jesus’ siblings more positively, the disciples also receive better treatment here. In Luke’s account, “they fell asleep in the boat,” not just Jesus. Your translation probably makes this singular, but that is based on an effort to make the story more like Matthew and Mark. Luke uses the plural pronoun here. He meant to say “they” and we should respect that. That they woke up to find the boat taking on water and the wind howling makes their reaction more understandable. Jesus also responds to them in a way that does not belittle them. In Mark, he asks, “have you no faith?” In Matthew, Jesus calls them “men of little faith.” In Luke, he simply asks, “Where is your faith?” Still a question, but not so biting.
Luke wants the focus to be less on the disciples’ failure and more on Jesus’ power. Jesus calms this external storm just as he is about to calm the internal storm raging in the poor man living among the tombs. In both cases, Jesus rebukes – his word carries the power to order chaos and calm turmoil. Our words carry this same power when we engage in the seed casting that the Spirit calls and empowers us to do. Let Jesus speak calm to your storm today. Let Jesus speak calm to someone’s storm through you today. And don’t doubt for a moment that both can happen on the same day. As we will see tomorrow, the delivered man starts spreading seed right away.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.