Christ returned from the desert with power (Luke 4:14). What gave him that power? How do you become filled with the Holy Spirit?
C. S. Lewis wrote, “Virtue—even attempted virtue—brings light; indulgence brings fog.” Have you ever over- come strong temptation? How did you feel afterward?
3. The Leper Healed (2:12)
Matthew 8:2-4 Leprosy is an especially horrible disease because a leper loses feeling. If a healthy person sprains an ankle, pain keeps him or her off it. If a leper sprains an ankle, he continues to walk, doing more damage. If we smash our thumb with a hammer, we don’t use it because it is tender. The leper doesn’t feel the pain and destroys tissues by continuing to use the injured member. Leprosy itself does not destroy the body so much as the unfeeling use of the body does.
A leper came to Jesus (Matthew 8: 2-4). Was it faith or desperation that brought him to Christ? In Jesus’ day a leper had to avoid contact with people who did not have the disease and had to announce his presence by calling out “Unclean, Unclean!” For Jesus to have contact with a leper was a social offense. Why would he do such a thing? Who are the “unclean” or “untouchables” in our society. How do you think Jesus would treat them?
The leper said to Jesus, “...if you are willing.” Jesus was willing. Think of a situation in which you could not bring yourself to touch someone because that person seemed too hateful or revolting. Do you think Jesus would have touched that person? Why?
4. The Centurion and the Servant (1:50)
A centurion was an officer commanding a Roman “century,” that is, 100 soldiers. The Romans were an occu- pying force in Israel in Jesus’ day. Thus they were intensely hated and resented by the people. What does it show us about Jesus as we see how he related to the centurion? Does it remind you of a teaching from the Sermon on the Mount to “Love your enemies”?
The centurion came to Jesus asking help for a sick servant. What do you learn about the centurion’s character by the fact he was willing to travel to get help for a servant?
Jesus promptly offered to go home with the centurion. But the centurion said there was no need. Just give the command and the servant would be healed. He explained that he, too, was a man of authority and gave orders to his men knowing they would obey. Who did the centurion think Jesus would give orders to? Where do you think the cen- turion found such faith? Did he have knowledge we don’t have? Can we have such faith? Faith requires practice, too. How could you get practice at faith?
Jesus taught his disciples faith by sending them out in pairs without supplies (Luke 9:1-6). They had to trust God for food and shelter.
5. Casting out Legion (2:05)
Luke 8:26-39 When Jesus entered the region of the Gadarenes, a man ran toward him from among tombs. (Luke 8:26-39) We would say the man was insane. Jesus saw that he was controlled by a legion of demons. The iron chains of the day could not hold him. He was in torment. How do you think people get exposed to demonic control? Why are people sometimes in torment under demon control? Are there times when people are under the control of evil but do not display the hysterical symptoms shown in this incident?
Jesus calmed the man and drove out the evil spirits. The spirits pleaded not to be sent into the abyss. Jesus allowed them to go into a herd of swine which stampeded into the sea. Can we believe in demons and evil spirits in today’s world? Where do they come from? What do they do? Are people like Hitler demon possessed? Can demons control themselves or are they driven by misery and malice and compulsion to do wrong? Have you ever done wrongs you didn’t really want to do? Did you feel compelled? How is it that people can escape sin’s compulsion even if demons cannot?
6. Jairus’ Daughter and the Woman (4:50)
Luke 8:40-56 Jairus’ daughter was dying. Jesus agreed to come and heal her. It was a life and death situation. Yet on the way he stopped to take care of another problem. “Who touched me?” he suddenly asked. This seemed a strange question to everyone. Have you ever felt embarrassed to ask a question in a crowd, especially if it seems like a stupid question? Dozens of people were crowded around Jesus. Anyone could have touched him, and his disciples were quick to point this out.