Based on Luke 8:26-39
Today’s reading is a powerful and moving account of an exorcism by Jesus. There are many significant details to note. Because there was a herd of pigs, and pigs were considered unclean by Jews, this was surely a Gentile community. The man possessed wore no clothes and dwelt among the tombs in a cemetery. If you have been to Israel, you may have seen what barren locations cemeteries often are — rocky, hard-packed dirt, not the serene, grassy, park-like garden cemeteries in most North American areas. The demons recognize Jesus for who He is before humans do. Knowing His power and dominion over them, they beg Jesus not to cast them into the abyss of hell. The people who saw it and heard about it were seized with fear, asking Jesus to leave them. Most of all, once the man has been exorcised of his demons, he sits at the feet of Jesus, a disciple, calmly restored, back among the living. Is it any wonder that the man wanted to stay with Jesus, begging that he might remain? His whole life had been one of isolation, pain and death. Jesus has given the man life — truly, this was a resurrection. But Jesus has other plans: “Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you.” Isn’t that His request of us, as well? After we receive God’s healing, forgiving gifts of grace in worship, we are to return to our homes, families and neighborhoods to simply declare how much God has done for us!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you daily exorcise our demons and restore us to life. Give us courage to boldly tell others how much you have done for us. Amen.
Lenten response: Tell someone else today something God has done for you!
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about A Lenten Walk Through the Word, visit thenalc.org/lent.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Chron. 12:1–13:22
12:1 After Rehoboam’s rule was established and solidified, he and all Israel rejected the law of the Lord. 2Because they were unfaithful to the Lord, in King Rehoboam’s fifth year, King Shishak of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. 3He had 1,200 chariots, 60,000 horsemen, and an innumerable number of soldiers who accompanied him from Egypt, including Libyans, Sukkites, and Cushites. 4He captured the fortified cities of Judah and marched against Jerusalem.
5Shemaiah the prophet visited Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah who were assembled in Jerusalem because of Shishak. He said to them, “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have rejected me, so I have rejected you and will hand you over to Shishak.’” 6The leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is just.” 7When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the Lord’s message came to Shemaiah: “They have humbled themselves, so I will not destroy them. I will deliver them soon. My anger will not be unleashed against Jerusalem through Shishak. 8Yet they will become his subjects, so they can experience how serving me differs from serving the surrounding nations.”
9King Shishak of Egypt attacked Jerusalem and took away the treasures of the Lord’s temple and of the royal palace; he took everything, including the gold shields that Solomon had made. 10King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned them to the officers of the royal guard who protected the entrance to the royal palace. 11Whenever the king visited the Lord’s temple, the royal guards carried them and then brought them back to the guardroom.
12So when Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord relented from his anger and did not annihilate him; Judah experienced some good things. 13King Rehoboam solidified his rule in Jerusalem; he was forty-one years old when he became king, and he ruled for seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord chose from all the tribes of Israel to be his home. Rehoboam’s mother was an Ammonite named Naamah. 14He did evil because he was not determined to follow the Lord.
15The events of Rehoboam’s reign, from start to finish, are recorded in the Annals of Shemaiah the Prophet and of Iddo the Seer that include genealogical records. There were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually. 16Then Rehoboam passed away and was buried in the City of David. His son Abijah replaced him as king.
13:1 In the eighteenth year of the reign of King Jeroboam, Abijah became king over Judah. 2He ruled for three years in Jerusalem. His mother was Michaiah, the daughter of Uriel from Gibeah.
There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3Abijah launched the attack with 400,000 well-trained warriors, while Jeroboam deployed against him 800,000 well-trained warriors.
4Abijah ascended Mount Zemaraim, in the Ephraimite hill country, and said: “Listen to me, Jeroboam and all Israel! 5Don’t you realize that the Lord God of Israel has given David and his dynasty lasting dominion over Israel by a formal covenant? 6Jeroboam son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon son of David, rose up and rebelled against his master. 7Lawless good-for-nothing men gathered around him and conspired against Rehoboam son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was an inexperienced young man and could not resist them. 8Now you are declaring that you will resist the Lord’s rule through the Davidic dynasty. You have a huge army and bring with you the gold calves that Jeroboam made for you as gods. 9But you banished the Lord’s priests, Aaron’s descendants, and the Levites, and appointed your own priests just as the surrounding nations do! Anyone who comes to consecrate himself with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of these fake gods! 10But as for us, the Lord is our God and we have not rejected him. Aaron’s descendants serve as the Lord’s priests, and the Levites assist them with the work. 11They offer burnt sacrifices to the Lord every morning and every evening, along with fragrant incense. They arrange the Bread of the Presence on a ritually clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. Certainly we are observing the Lord our God’s regulations, but you have rejected him. 12Now look, God is with us as our leader. His priests are ready to blow the trumpets to signal the attack against you. You Israelites, don’t fight against the Lord God of your ancestors, for you will not win!”
13Now Jeroboam had sent some men to ambush the Judahite army from behind. The main army was in front of the Judahite army; the ambushers were behind it. 14The men of Judah turned around and realized they were being attacked from the front and the rear. So they cried out to the Lord for help. The priests blew their trumpets, 15and the men of Judah gave the battle cry. As the men of Judah gave the battle cry, God struck down Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16The Israelites fled from before the Judahite army, and God handed them over to the men of Judah. 17Abijah and his army thoroughly defeated them; 500,000 well-trained Israelite men fell dead. 18That day the Israelites were defeated; the men of Judah prevailed because they relied on the Lord God of their ancestors.
19Abijah chased Jeroboam; he seized from him these cities: Bethel and its surrounding towns, Jeshanah and its surrounding towns, and Ephron and its surrounding towns. 20Jeroboam did not regain power during the reign of Abijah. The Lord struck him down and he died. 21Abijah’s power grew; he had fourteen wives and fathered twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters.
22The rest of the events of Abijah’s reign, including his deeds and sayings, are recorded in the writings of the prophet Iddo.(NET Bible)
83:1 A song, a psalm of Asaph.
O God, do not be silent.
Do not ignore us. Do not be inactive, O God.
2For look, your enemies are making a commotion;
those who hate you are hostile.
3They carefully plot against your people,
and make plans to harm the ones you cherish.
4They say, “Come on, let’s annihilate them so they are no longer a nation.
Then the name of Israel will be remembered no more.”
5Yes, they devise a unified strategy;
they form an alliance against you.
6It includes the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites,
7Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek,
Philistia, and the inhabitants of Tyre.
8Even Assyria has allied with them,
lending its strength to the descendants of Lot. (Selah)
9Do to them as you did to Midian—
as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the Kishon River.
10They were destroyed at Endor;
their corpses were like manure on the ground.
11Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
and all their rulers like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12who said, “Let’s take over the pastures of God.”
13O my God, make them like dead thistles,
like dead weeds blown away by the wind.
14Like the fire that burns down the forest,
or the flames that consume the mountainsides,
15chase them with your gale winds
and terrify them with your windstorm.
16Cover their faces with shame,
so they might seek you, O Lord.
17May they be humiliated and continually terrified.
May they die in shame.
18Then they will know that you alone are the Lord,
the Most High over all the earth.(NET Bible)
8:26 So they sailed over to the region of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As Jesus stepped ashore, a certain man from the town met him who was possessed by demons. For a long time this man had worn no clothes and had not lived in a house, but among the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before him, and shouted with a loud voice, “Leave me alone, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! I beg you, do not torment me!” 29For Jesus had started commanding the evil spirit to come out of the man. (For it had seized him many times, so he would be bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard. But he would break the restraints and be driven by the demon into deserted places.) 30Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. 31And they began to beg him not to order them to depart into the abyss. 32Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and the demonic spirits begged Jesus to let them go into them. He gave them permission. 33So the demons came out of the man and went into the pigs, and the herd of pigs rushed down the steep slope into the lake and drowned. 34When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran off and spread the news in the town and countryside. 35So the people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus. They found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the man who had been demon-possessed had been healed. 37Then all the people of the Gerasenes and the surrounding region asked Jesus to leave them alone, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and left. 38The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your home, and declare what God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole town what Jesus had done for him.(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
Scripture is the primum principium; it is [Luther writes] “in itself the most certain, the most accessible, the most readily understandable (book) which interprets itself and approves, judges, and illumines all (words) of all.” It must “reign as queen.” (18)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.