We are continuing in our series in the Gospel of Luke in this article by looking at Luke 8:1-15.

I want to ask you two questions. The first is this: How has God's undeserved grace and mercy to you in the gospel changed the way you treat people, especially people who are not like you, people who are different from you, people that don't run in the circles that you run in, people that don't share the normal social commonalities that you possess and share with your friends? The second question is this: How do you hear the Word of God? Do you hear the Word of God? If so, how do you hear the Word of God? It's those two questions that I want to concentrate on with you today.

1. How Has the Gospel Changed the Way That You Treat People?

Now Jesus, in verse 1 we're told, is going from village to village and "He is proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God." And as He's going around preaching this message the Twelve are with Him. They're going with Him city to city. But along with the Twelve, who else is with Him? "And also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager" - so the Gospel has even gotten into the very courts of the wicked king Herod now - "and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means." These women had been so deeply affected by Jesus' ministry, their lives had been so profoundly transformed by Jesus' ministry that they were actually supporting Jesus and His disciples out of their own substance and means and they were travelling with Him.

Now you understand how scandalous that would have been to have women following Jesus around with men. But is it surprising to you at all that these women would have had this response to Jesus? Let's go back to Luke 7. Here is a woman who is a prostitute. Everyone in her town knows that she is immoral. And she had come in to express her gratitude to Jesus for changing her life and she weeps on His feet and she anoints Him with perfume and ointment and dries His feet with her hair. Now can you imagine, my friends, the shock if that happened today? Simon the host was shocked. And everybody in the room begins to judge Jesus - "If He was really a prophet and knew what kind of a woman this is, He wouldn't let her touch Him."

Do you see what Jesus is doing? Even though everyone else in the room is looking at Jesus and saying, "Well You're no better than she is if You're going to let her touch You." He is treating this woman with dignity. She wasn't being used, she was being cared for.

Jesus knows everybody in the room is looking at Him and they are thinking about Him in the same sort of way that they're thinking of that woman. And you know what? He doesn't care. He cares for her soul and He doesn't care what people think of Him in His caring of her soul. Now understand that Jesus is pristine in His purity in the way He deals with this woman. This is not some sort of sensual thing going on here. But Jesus knows just by letting her touch Him that His reputation is going down the drain with hers and He doesn't care. No wonder she loves Him. She's never been treated this way by a man. And think of how these other women had been treated and He treats them the same way. No wonder these women were following Jesus. It's not surprising at all.

And I want to ask you this - Has God's gracious dealing with you changed the way you treat people that others look down on and despise? Do you show them the same kind of love that your Savior has shown you? Because you know what, you and I are sinners, and for Jesus to sidle up next to us, well very frankly it costs Him His reputation because we're not good and we're not pure but He does it anyway because He loves us. And shouldn't that make us loving towards those who are despised and looked down upon and cast off? That's the first question I want to ask you.

II. How Do You Hear the Word of God?

The second question is this - How do you hear the Word? Jesus makes it clear in this passage that hearing the Word is not just a matter of plopping down in the seat in the sanctuary and listening. Jesus' point in this passage is that Satan himself has a real interest in your not listening to the Word of God. Jesus is indicating that for you to hear the Word of God, actually is to engage in a spiritual battle because Satan does not want you to hear the Word of God. Satan, if you'll remember in this parable, Jesus Himself says, is active in trying to keep people from hearing the Word of God. In some people, he distracts them immediately so that the Word never ever takes root. In others, there's an initial response of joy, but then in all too brief a time, it's gone. And still in others there is a response to the truth, but what happens? The cares and the riches and the pleasures of this world choke the Word.

What's happening there? You are caring more about the things of this life than you care about your eternal well-being. Can you imagine that - caring more about the things that will pass away than your eternal well-being? And Jesus is saying Satan is behind that. It happens all the time. So when you come to hear the Word of God there is a battle going on. Satan is not wanting you to see your sin.

Why did that woman who anointed Jesus' feet and why did these women in verse 2 and 3 follow Jesus? Because they saw their sin and they saw their need and they saw that Jesus had met it. And so what does Satan want to make sure you don't do so that you don't hear the Word? He doesn't want you to see your sin. He wants you to come in and listen to a sermon and think about everybody else's sins. "Boy, they sure did need to hear that message!"

So you understand that every time you sit down in a pew of your church's sanctuary a spiritual battle is going on. Will you hear the Word of God? That's why you can't just go in and plop down. You've got to come and you've got to have prepared with prayer - "Lord God, come and speak to me. I need this Word."

So how are you hearing the Word of God? Is it changing your life? Is it shown in the way you treat others?

Is it shown in the fruit that's being born in your experience - you love God more, you trust Him more, you want to tell about Him more, you want to live for Him more? Jesus is reminding us my friends that the hearing of the Word of God is a spiritual battle.