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God’s Word for You

Luke 8:26 The Gerasenes

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, April 9, 2018

26 They sailed down to the region of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.

What do we mean by the Gerasenes? For the sake of simplicity, we can pretty much just imagine the right side of the Sea of Galilee on a map. The east bank of the Sea of Galilee is a hilly region known for naturally growing tubers in the soil. The various mountains and hills all come to an abrupt stop half a mile from the shore of the lake, and then the steep slopes tumble down to the water’s edge. About a third of the way down the east bank from the north end is a little gulch and the unimpressive ruins of the village of Gergesa. Northeast and very close by is the huge summit called Umm Qais in Arabic (the mother of ruins), the dominating summit we know today as the Golan Heights. At the foot of this mountain flows the Yarmuk, one of the more important rivers east of the Jordan, and there is also the ancient city of Gadara. A third town, Gerasa, is further south-southeast. All three of these places are part of “the Gerasenes.”

A quick look at the footnotes of your New Testament will show that various witnesses of the Greek text are divided as to which name they use for the region. This is easily understandable since the account before us doesn’t take place in the town (whichever one is meant) but in the countryside near the lake. There are many caves with what one eyewitness calls “wonderful tombs” (Lynch, chapter IX) and “magnificent ruins in an extraordinary state of preservation.” One archaeologist identified four distinct locations along the shoreline that contain all the elements present in the account before us: Proximity to a town or village (Luke 8:27), tombs where an outcast man could find shelter and solitude (Luke 8:27,29), a hillside with plenty of fodder for a huge herd of pigs (Luke 8:32), and the steep bank near the shore where the herd of pigs rushed down to drown (Luke 8:33).

When Jesus and his disciples “sailed down” (katapléō) to this place, the Lord’s goal was to find this man at this time. Here was someone who needed the Lord’s help, and who didn’t even know how to ask for it. Our God is good. He knows us, and he reaches out to us. Pray that when God uses you to reach out to someone in need, that he will give you patience, wisdom and compassion. Share the word of life, and humbly thank the Lord that he has seen fit to use you as one of his many ambassadors in the world.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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