BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 9, Day 5: Matthew 8:23-34

Summary of passage:  Fleeing the crowds, Jesus and his disciples get in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee.  A storm arose and the disciples, scared, awoke Jesus from a much needed rest afraid they would drown.  Jesus rebuked them for lack of faith and calmed the storm.  The disciples were amazed at Jesus’ power.

When Jesus arrived at the other side of the lake in Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men approached him.  They taunted Jesus and asked him to drive the demons into the pigs, which Jesus did.  The whole herd of pigs then drowned themselves in the lake.  The shepherds ran to tell the town and the whole town demanded Jesus leave, scared of what they just saw.

Questions:

12a)  Jesus understood the disciples genuine fear that they would die and how powerful of an emotion fear is so he calmed the storm not for himself but for them.

b)  Omnipotent (power over the wind and the seas).  Compassion in the midst of unbelief (even though the disciples didn’t deserve to have their fear calmed because they didn’t belief in who he was, Jesus did it anyways).  Love (Jesus loved his disciples enough to rebuke them and call them out for their lack of faith.)

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  If the disciples had really, truly understood exactly whom Jesus was they would not have been afraid.  Imagine:  you are in a boat with God/Jesus.  Would He allow anything to happen to you?  No. Yet the disciples literally thought they were going to die.  That Jesus would not protect them.  That they were not safe in his presence.  How sad!

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  There have been many, mainly with regards to money.  My husband has lost his job multiple times and we have gone through a bankruptcy where we lost our home but never once were we homeless or without food, clothing, or shelter.  God provides and He continues to this day.  I no longer fear job losses.  They make me upset.  But my fear is gone for I know He has my back.

13a)  “They were so violent that no one could pass that way.”  “This man lived in the tombs and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain.”  “He tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet.  No one was strong enough to subdue him.”  “He would cry out and cut himself with stones.”

b)  Jesus came to destroy the devil’s power over death and free us from our fear of death.  The demon-possessed men were as good as dead, leading a life not worth living, being chained up because they were crazy.  One cannot survive with demons inside of them as exhibited by the pigs.  The pigs, as lower animals, committed suicide because they could not handle the devil inside of them.

Jesus freed the men and gave them a live worth living again as he does for each of us who accept him.

c)  Personal Question.   My answer:  It’s interesting to me how Jesus chooses some to be disciples or witnesses and how he chooses others not to be.  Jesus healed the man with leprosy in Matthew 8:1-4 and told him not to tell anyone and here in Mark 18-20, Jesus tells the man to go and give testimony on what he has done.  I believe he has done this because the former needed to be cleansed to be accepted back into society and the demon man would have been accepted automatically.

Furthermore, Jesus came to free us from the power of the devil over our lives.  Driving out demons speaks to this point and is a more important testimony to who Jesus is.  Jesus healed the physical sick (the leper); but he is more interested in healing the people spiritually (the demon-possessed man).

d)  They pleaded with him to leave their region.  This shows they are scared of Jesus’ power.  They are angry at him because 2000 pigs as Mark tells us was worth a lot of money–probably most people’s entire income for the year.  They are indifferent to how Jesus saved the two men.  They could care less that they were saved.  They acted out of fear.

e)  They don’t like Jesus when he affects their money for the good of others.  When people are scared or they don’t understand something, they tend to run away or push back.  They close up and refuse to learn what is driving that fear so they ignore the Message.  People refuse to believe being saved is so easy so they reject Jesus.

Fear and unbelief go together.  What people fear, they don’t believe is true.  People fear what Jesus can do in their lives so they reject Jesus and choose what Satan is doing in their lives instead.

Conclusions:  I liked this lesson.  Full of action-packed stories and interesting characters.  Jesus calming a storm and freaky men running around, crazy, while a pack of pigs run off a cliff.  Cool!

Note how God always does what is best for us.  The man wanted to go with Jesus and Jesus said no.  Why?  Because this man would now serve God greater as he proclaimed his miracle to others.  Also, the man probably still harbored fears of the devil and Jesus wanted him to know he would be okay without Jesus nearby.

Maps:  This is an awesome site full of maps of where Jesus walked and the distances between places mentioned.  You can click on the red dots on the map which lead you to more detailed information with more maps and pictures of the ruins today.  You could spend hours on this site!

http://www.biblewalks.com/info/jesusfootsteps.html

This site has maps as well as the Bible verses that trace Jesus’ ministry:

http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CN160-TRAVELS.htm

End Notes:  Some scholars believe the storm was sent by the devil in an attempt to drown the Son of God and his disciples because of the use of the word “rebuke”.

The demon-possessed men were exceedingly unclean since they lived among the dead.

The demon’s words to Jesus demonstrate they understood they were going to face torture for eternity and they asked to be left alone to inflict their damage on earth for as long as possible.

Pigs are unclean to Jews so these must have been owned by a Gentile.  Note how the demons needed permission to enter the pigs.  They just couldn’t do it themselves.

The pigs hurling themselves over the cliff shows the real reason for existence of demons:  to kill.  However, the demons may have achieved one end goal:  they turned the people away from Jesus through killing the pigs.  We must be wary always for the destructive tendencies of the devil.

Demons use human bodies as a weapon against God.  Demon-possession can be a reality today but note they have to be invited in; demons just can’t take control over you.

Note this is the only thing Jesus does in Gadarenes.  In Matthew 9, we learn Jesus returns to his own town.  Jesus came over just to save this one man.  This shows us the depth and importance we all hold in God’s eyes.  We matter just like this seemingly insignificant demon-possessed man did to God.  We all have hope.  This man’s life was admittedly over if Jesus hadn’t have banished the demons.  Now, the man can live again.  Just like we all can.

Mark mentions the Decapolis.  Deka is ten in Greek which was adopted into Latin to be dec and polis is Greek for cities so this literally means Ten Cities.  These were mainly on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, which were mainly Gentile.  See link HERE for a great history lesson and map on the ten cities which are the ones in black.

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