Teach Us to Pray 1-13
Luke in his gospel stresses the prayer life of Jesus. The disciples noticed this and asked Jesus to teach them to pray. The answer that Jesus gave them was a model of prayer.
In the Gospel of Matthew this prayer is longer and is more familiar. The setting is also different as it was in the Sermon of the Mount. (Matthew 6:9-15) The disciples had asked Jesus to teach them to pray and He gave them a model for prayer. It is the model that we are to follow and not to recite in ritual.
Jesus begins with the paradox of a God who is our Heavenly Father who is close to us and intimate in relationship. On the other hand God is a holy God and His name is hollowed above all things.
The first petition that we are to make in prayer is for the coming of His Kingdom. We are longing for the completion of what God is done, is doing, and will do through Jesus Christ. Our petitions have a range from the coming of God’s Kingdom to the provision for our daily need for bread.
Our prayers should include our confession of the sins in our life. We must also have the commitment to forgive others of their sins against us as God has forgiven ours against Him.
In our prayers we acknowledge our dependence upon God for our strength and guidance. God does allow us to be tested which serves to build up our strength. But His intent is not that we should ever fall into temptation. The prayer in Luke is the opposite of a spirit of self-confidence that we can handle every situation in our own strength in our life.
Jesus not only taught His disciples how to pray but also the need to pray. He does this by a parable of a friend in need during the night. The key to knowing how to pray is to know the need to pray. We learn to pray by praying. When we pray out of a sense of need we will truly learn how to pray.
In the parable the man’s need was great. Hospitality was a sacred duty in the Jewish culture. This host had nothing to set before the hungry traveler who had come to visit him in the night. The host need was so great that he went to his friend’s house in the middle of the night to seek help. He shamelessly knocked on the door of his friend seeking his help.
Just as the host deep need for help from his friend drove him to his house in the middle of the night so should our deep need drive us to prayer with the Father. When it does we can be assured that God will receive us.
This parable is in common with the parable of the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8. Each teach us the need to pray continually. Each is told in a way that implies that God needs to be persuaded to answer our prayers. But this misses the true point. The need for persistence in prayer is our need, not God’s.
The point is not that God must be persuaded to hear our prayers by our persistence. In the parable the man was persistent because his need was desperate and his relationship with his friend was good. Our prayer is persistent for the same two reasons. When the need is real no one needs to tell us to keep praying about it. Because we know that God loves us, we continue to pray to Him even when the specific requests do not seem to be answered.
The verses of 5-8 and 11-13 are how much more parables. If a friend inconvenienced himself to help us because we were persistent in our cries for help, then how much more will our Heavenly Father give us what we need? If we as a parent respond to our child who is hungry how much more will our Heavenly Father be willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. He gives us many gifts without prayer, but our deepest needs must be met through prayer. The greatest gift that God gives is His presence with us. The gift of His Spirit’s presence which gives us power in our lives and that is the best answer to prayer. The gift of His Spirt is continually given to us even when other request seem to be unanswered.
Our needs may change from day to day but a persistent communion with God is an unchanging characteristic of a life of faith. No matter how urgent our petitions the daily communion with God must remain constant.
The Danger of Closed Minds 14-54
A closed mind is deadly to any form of growth. The opposition to the ministry of Jesus by this time had become hardened. In these passages we see that the enemies of Jesus had made up their minds to reject Him. It was charged against Him that He cast out demons by the power of Satan. Luke also record Jesus’ response to their demands for signs and wonders. Luke also records a list of charges that Jesus made against the scribes and Pharisees.
Who’s on the Lord’s Side 14-28
In verses 14-16 we see three responses to Jesus casting out a demon. First the people marveled at what Jesus had done but did nothing more. Second the Pharisees, (Matthew 12:24) accused Jesus of casting out the demon by Beelzebul. And third others demanded that Jesus show them a sign from heaven.
These responses show the danger of closed minds. They had already had made up their minds and therefore made ridiculous charges and demands against Jesus. They would not believe that the exorcisms were the work of God. In the following verses Jesus responds to each of these groups.
Jesus pointed out the ridiculousness of the charge that Satan gave Him the power to cast out a demon. If that were true Satan would be waging war upon his own troops. Jesus also made note that there were other Jewish exorcist and no one had accused them of working through Satan.
Then Jesus turned the argument around and placed it upon His accusers. They had conceded that Jesus had cast out a demon. The question then became if Satan did not help Him, then who did? Jesus used language found in Exodus. (Exodus 8:19) Jesus said that He cast out demons by the “finger of God” which seems to mean the power of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 12:28) God was using the casting out of demons to show His sovereign claims on those who saw the signs.
In the battle of good and evil everyone is on one side or the other. We are either a friend of God or an enemy of God. (James 4:4) There is no neutral ground. Those who try to remain uncommitted actually provide aid and comfort to the side of evil. Here Jesus may have been addressing those who were amazed but making no commitment to one side or the other.
When a demon leaves a body a void is left in its place. That empty spot will be filled. If evil is cast out then that spot must be filled with the presence and power of God. The power of evil is very deceptive and never ceases to seek to destroy. If that space in life is left empty Satan will seep back into the vacancy.
A woman in the crowd was impressed by Jesus and blessed His mother. Jesus did not question the truth of the woman’s blessing but did point out that she had missed the point. The woman’s intent was to pay tribute to Jesus and His mother but Jesus focused in on the real issue. The ones who are truly with Jesus are those who are fully committed to Him because they have heard and obey the Word of God.
Missing the Obvious 29-36
The people had demanded a sign from heaven. Jesus called them an evil generation for demanding signs. In their evil they desired not to know the truth and had become blind to the obvious. They had completely missed that God was at work through Jesus.
Jesus premised that He would give them the sign of Jonah. That He was to this generation what Jonah was to Nineveh. That it was He who was the sign that calls people to repentance.
Some people claim that they will believe God if He would only give them a sign. Faith is not the product of special proofs. If people will not respond to the clear call of God through His word, then they would not believe even if they were given special signs.
Judgment is according to the light of opportunity. Some people stand in the full light of God’s revelation through Jesus Christ and turn away from it. Because of this rejection they will be held more accountable on the Day of Judgment than people with less opportunity. Jesus referenced the Queen of Sheba who traveled many miles to hear the Wisdom of Solomon. But in this day the people were rejecting the truth of Jesus the Son of God. Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, but the people of Jesus’ day did not respond to God’s call in Christ.
A lamp is lit to provide light in the darkness. Jesus said the eye is the lamp of the body. A good eye illumines the body and a bad eye distorts and darkens the body. In the area of spiritual perception the tragedy of life is spiritual blindness. A spiritually blind man is a darkened man. When the eyes of the soul reflect the light of God’s truth everything is illuminated.
The sign seekers wanted more light so that they could see. Their problem was not bad light but poor eye sight. They had closed their eyes to the light and more light will not overcome that.
When Religion is Sinful 37-54
The Pharisees had many rituals included into their religion. One ritual was the washing of their hands before eating a meal. It was not for hygiene but for ceremonial cleanness. When Jesus was invited to eat with one of the Pharisees Jesus did not observe the ritual of washing His hands. All were astonished that a teacher like Jesus would not observe this ritual. Jesus tried to show then that the external things had nothing to do with cleanliness on the inside. Sin is too rooted to be cleaned by a simple act of washing hands. To cleanse one from the burden of sin it must be done from the inside.
In this section we see three woes towards the Pharisees and three woes towards the lawyers. Woe in this context is not a curse towards the Pharisees and lawyers but a deep regret. Jesus was trying to expose the Pharisees and the lawyers in order to help them and the people that they influenced.
The Pharisees tithed beyond that which was required, but they had missed the point. Tithing is an expression of total commitment and not to be used as an expression of that commitment. The Pharisees paid their tithes but neglected justice toward the people and love for God.
The way that the Pharisees practiced their religion fed the basic human sin, pride. In spite of being filled with inner sin and neglecting things that mattered they based their confidence in their rituals. They felt that they were true because of their washing of hands and their tithing. They garnered much coveted attention from the people by their righteous behavior and religious devotion.
To touch a dead person or even walk across their grave was defiling to a person. Jesus said that the Pharisees were like unmarked graves. Unsuspecting people would themselves become defiled by being in contact with these people who were supposed to be righteous. In truth the Pharisees were guilty of the worst sins.
The lawyers there, or scribes, were professional experts of the law of God. Many of the lawyers were themselves Pharisees. Jesus spoke three woes to the lawyers as well.
Religion is supposed to lift the burdens off the people and make them easier to bear. (Psalm 55:22; Galatians 6:2) But the Lawyers loaded the people down with even more burdens and did nothing to lighten any burden. It was the lawyers that interpreted the law and the intricate system of traditions. For the people who took their religion seriously this religious legalism was a heavy burden.
It was the lawyers who built the tombs for the ancient prophets but they were no different from their fathers who had killed the prophets. For them honoring the dead prophets was much easier than responding to the truth presented by living prophets. Jesus told them they would kill their own share of prophets. Abel and Zachariah (2 Chronicles 24:21) represent the first and last martyrs in the Old Testament. Because this generation ignored the truth for which the prophets died they would be held accountable. These people also killed the prophets of their own day.
The lawyers also robbed the people of the opportunity of knowing God and His will. They had turned religion into a maze of rituals and impossible laws. The Scriptures should point to God but they had been distorted and misapplied.
The lawyers and Pharisees showed the truth of what Jesus was saying to them, as they did their best to lay a trap for Him.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus prayed at critical events in His life: His baptism, (Luke 3:21) before calling the twelve, (Luke 6:12) at the transfiguration, (Luke 9:28) for Peter before his denial, (Luke 22:32) and for His murderers at the cross. (Luke 23:34) He also taught the disciples to pray (Luke 11:1-4) and told parables about the need for persistent prayer. (Luke 11:5-13; Luke 18:1-8)
Jesus’ prayers are part of Luke’s emphasis on the intimacy between the Father and the Son. Jesus lived in communion with the Father, followed the Father’s purpose, and remained faithful to the Father’s will. In Gethsemane, Jesus agonized over the suffering that lay ahead, but He prayed, “I want your will to be done not mine.” (Luke 22:42) On the cross, He expressed total dependence on the Father, uttering His last words, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” (Luke 23:46) Jesus modeled for us a life of trust and dependence on our Heavenly Father.
Requirements for Disciples
This chapter of Luke primarily is the teachings of Jesus addressed to His disciples. The three main themes are courageous confession, proper perspective on possessions, and faithful stewardship.