By The Very Rev. June Osborne
Luke Chapter 8 ends with three vivid stories of Jesus bringing liberty and assurance to some anguished people. We are drawn into the troubles they face and are amazed by the way Jesus meets them in the midst of their very specific needs.
Firstly, the disciples are facing the danger of a storm at sea. We all know what it’s like to panic in the face of fear and for anxiety to overwhelm us. Jesus’ question ‘Where is your faith?’ may seem like a harsh response but isn’t it exactly what we need to ask ourselves sometimes when we’re trapped by fear?
The Gerasene Demoniac was also imprisoned but by a form of mental torment. Jesus’ rescue of him, involving as it does a herd of pigs rushing into the lake couldn’t be more dramatic, but the story focuses not on the lost herd but on the wonder of how much God had done for him.
And then we have the parallel needs of Jairus’ 12 year old daughter and the woman who had bled for that same length of time. They were victims of chronic and acute illness, and Jesus takes time with them and heals.
In our psalm God says to those who follow him ‘Call on me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you shall glorify me’. Some of the troubles of our world seem beyond our control. We read of the aggression against the Midianites reminding us of the misery and cruelty of war. All of us can become victims of fear, torment or illness. Yet Jesus’ encounters with these individuals remind us of how he wishes liberty for each one of us and in our troubles we should not forget God, or what He wants to do for us.
Which of the people Jesus meets in Luke 8 do you best relate to, and why?
What binds and limits our life, and how might we seek for a greater liberty?
O God our Father, you are the comfort of the sad and the strength of those who suffer. Hear the prayers of all your children who cry out to you in their troubles, and to every soul that is distressed today grant mercy, refreshment and liberty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
The Very Rev. June Osborne is Dean of Salisbury Cathedral in England