Who Can Care for Your Soul?
In Luke 8 Jesus works a miracle that astounds His disciples. En route to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, a storm blows up and threatens to sink the small vessel (8:22-25). Mark says Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a pillow (4:38), evidently unconcerned about what to Him was a non-threat.
The disciples, however, were in a panic: “Master, Master, we are perishing!” (Lk 8:24). The storm, which terrified experienced seamen, was hushed with two words: “Siopa pephimoso!” (“Peace, be still!”). “And the wind ceased and there was a great calm” (Mk 4:39). The disciples, who had already seen the resurrection of the widow of Nain’s son (Lk 7:11ff), were awestruck by Jesus’ mastery over nature: “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!” (Lk 8:25).
Interestingly, Luke makes no specific comment on the disciples reaction earlier to the widow’s son being raised. He notes that “fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen up among us’; and, ‘God has visited His people’” (7:16). But the apostles already believed that.
After the storm subsided, the boat made landfall in the territory of the Gadarenes (Lk 7:26ff). Immediately upon stepping ashore, two fierce, powerful demon-possessed men who terrorized the region approached Jesus. But instead of attacking Him, the men “fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, ‘What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!’”
In his exchange with Jesus, the spokesman of the legion (Thayer: a combined body of 6,826 soldiers) of demons requested that they be allowed to inhabit the bodies of the herd of swine nearby. This time with a single word (“Hupagete” – “Go,” Mt 8:32), Jesus expelled the demons from the two tormented men. Similar to the Sea of Galilee which was calmed at Jesus’ word, the man was “sitting and clothed and in his right mind” when the townsfolk came to investigate (Mk 5:15).
These miraculous works of Jesus are designed to impress upon us the control God has on all elements of reality: the reality of the created realm, and the reality of the heavenly realm. In regard to the first, Jesus not only calms storms but heals leprosy, gives sight to the blind, invigorates the lame, heals over distances, multiplies material elements, compresses time and otherwise demonstrates His mastery over the physical world.
By extrapolation, as well as explicit doctrine, we are to conclude from this that nothing is outside of God’s control. If the laws of nature can be manipulated merely by words, what does that say about all the limitations that we are subject to and the anxiety they cause?
But Jesus does not stop here. The ultimate concern of the reflective person is, “Who has the power to care for my soul when I am facing death?” And further: “Will I forever be in bondage to the devil, who has taken me captive to sin through my own weakness?” This captivity is graphically demonstrated by demons who, apparently in epidemic proportions, forcibly took control of men, women and children and caused them great suffering.
In the various exorcisms performed by Jesus, He demonstrates His mastery over the spiritual forces of the infernal regions (cf. Jude 6). Imagine the power to free a hapless soul from demonic torment by a spoken word! Imagine the humility of those same demons who had their way with their beleaguered hosts but fell prostrate at the feet of the Son of God. THIS IS WHO I WANT TAKING CARE OF MY SOUL!
Yet the Gadarenes, who were told “how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine … asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear…” (Mk 5:16; Lk 8:37). Fear creates irrationality, and one would be hard-pressed to think of anything more irrational than seeing a man control a gaggle of demons, restore their victims to normalcy, free the region of their reign of terror and then asking Him to go away!
Shortly after heading back across the sea, another desperate person falls at Jesus’ feet (Lk 8:40ff). This man is not demon-possessed; he is a heartsick father whose only daughter lies dying, and he appeals to Jesus to come save her life. The girl, however, dies before Jesus arrives. In human experience, when death has claimed its victim, there is nothing to be done. Death is the final, irreversible stilling of life, the departure of the spirit “for worlds unknown.” Though sorrow suffocates the living, though the night weighs heavy upon the widow, though devastated parents lay their precious child to rest, the souls of our loved ones are gone forever. We cannot bring them back. But Someone can.
The Biblical definition of death is the separation of body and spirit; the body remains on earth and immediately begins decaying; “and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecc 12:7). But imagine the power of One who can recall that spirit from the heavenly realms and reunite it with its deceased body and reanimate it! Again, all that was needed was just two short words in Greek: “Talitha koumi” (“Little girl, arise”). THIS IS WHO I WANT TAKING CARE OF MY SOUL!
Those who mythologize Jesus, or sanitize Him as a wise guru, or caricature Him as a namby-pamby pacifist do not truly realize what they are sacrificing. Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One who has all authority in heaven and on earth, is the only One who has the power to provide for and protect our souls against death and sin and eternal condemnation: “‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15:55-57).
If we have cancer, we want the best oncologist. If we need an operation, we want the most experienced surgeon. But when it comes to the eternal fate of our soul, it is shocking how many people reject the only One who can deal with death. Jesus is so much more than a positive self-image coach. He is a – no, the – soul-restorer who alone can comfort and guide us as we take our last steps in this world and enter a realm to which we’ve never been. THIS IS WHOM I’VE CHOSEN TO TAKE CARE OF MY SOUL. Who do you trust to take care of yours?