Sunday, July 01, 2012

Luke 11:1-13 - The Priority of Prayer

The Lord's Prayer
The Lord's Prayer (James Tissot)
From the first chapters of his Gospel, Luke has pointed toward the importance of trusting Christ and warning against unbelief. After revealing Jesus as the “Christ of God” (Luke 9:20), Luke’s Gospel shifts (Luke 9:51) to calling for a response. Jesus turns his attention from ministry in Galilee to a resolute focus towards Jerusalem and his coming suffering (Luke 9:51-18:14). Despite opposition (Luke 9:51-56), Jesus calls for personal sacrifice, even of family responsibilities, in order to concentrate fully on serving the Lord (Luke 9:57-62). As Jesus moves toward Jerusalem, he sends 70 disciples ahead with a warning that God’s Kingdom is near (Luke 10:1-12). Despite his sadness over those who reject the Kingdom, (Luke 10:13-16), Jesus rejoices over those who have received salvation (Luke 10:17-24). Questioned by a Torah expert on eternal life, Jesus defines authentic spiritual life through the story of the Good Samaritan. Authentic spiritual life is defined by love for God and others (Luke 10:25-37), by the high priorities of God’s Presence (Luke 10:38-42) and of prayer (Luke 11:1-13).

Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 11:1-13 to teach believers the high priority of prayer in a disciple’s life.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about prayer.
Pray and Read:  Luke 11:1-13

Sermon Points:
1.   Prioritize prayer  (Luke 11:1-4)
2.   Persist in prayer (Luke 11:5-10)
3.   (for the) Promise of prayer (Luke 11:11-13)

Exposition:   Note well,

1.   PRIORITIZE PRAYER (Luke 11:1-4)
a.   Here Luke, who has an outstanding interest in prayer more than any other Gospel, presents Jesus’ teaching on prayer. He stresses dependence and trust in God, right in line with his Gospel’s focus. When they see the Lord Jesus praying, his disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, and Jesus gives them a simple model prayer that sums up the important aspects of communicating with God. The Lord’s Prayer here is in a completely different setting from Matthew’s version as part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 6:9-13). Here it seems the disciples seem to feel that they lack something. What does Jesus do? He returns them to the same steady teaching he gave them in Galilee.
b.   Luke 11:2 – Father: The common term used for father, the Aramaic Abba (Rom 8:16-18) was used not only by children for “daddy,” but by adult children of their father too. But Jews would rarely if ever address God as “my father” or “father,” although Jesus did (Mark 14:36). Jesus calls his disciples to a new intimacy with God through his unique relationship with the Father.
c.   Luke 11:2 – Hallowed be thy name: This phrase means, “cause Your name to be honored. It points out Gods victory in the establishment of His Kingdom on earth.
d.   Luke 11:3 – Our daily bread: Or food (Luke 7:33; 2 Thess. 3:8). The reference for daily recalls God’s daily provision of manna for Israel in the desert (Exod. 16; Prov 30:8). It is noticeable that Jesus teaches us to ask our heavenly Father for a day’s rations at a time. It is the natural corrective to Martha’s anxiety about many things.
e.   ILLUSTRATION: Look at how the Lord provided for our Vacation Bible School this past week. We didn’t know if any children would come, but come they did, twice as many as I expected. We didn’t know how things would go, but we experienced the sweetest spirit among the workers, a lack of tension and apprehension, a genuinely sweet week of Bible school. We didn’t know where we would obtain the food, but we all took home leftovers.
f.    Luke 11:4 – Forgive us: In Matthew 6 forgiveness is a completed fact. In Luke, “we have forgiven” is a continual performance of forgiveness. It was assumed in Judaism that a forgiven people should be willing to forgive. Notice that debts in Matthew 6:9-13 becomes sins in Luke.[1] Lead us not into temptation: James 1:3 tells us plainly that God does not tempt his people, but Jesus tells us to pray that we will not fall into temptation (Luke 22:40, 46).
2.   PERSIST IN PRAYER (Luke 11:5-10)
a.   Jesus follows this model prayer with a parable about prayer which is called the parable of the importunate friend at midnight.
b.   Luke 11:5-8 – Friend or father: This is a peasant home where the whole family sleeps in a single room on mats on the floor. A wooden or iron bar through rings secures the door. To get up and unbolt it would disturb the whole family. Jesus’ point is that even a friend would get up and get the food for someone who is persistent in knocking, even if he is only motivated to get rid of the obnoxious nuisance! How much more will our Father, who loves us deeply and without conditions, respond to our prayers.
c.   This parable of the persistent neighbor has been interpreted two different ways. Some say it is similar to the parable of the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8), teaching God’s desire for his people to be bold and persistent in prayer, and that is what I see here. But there is another understanding that bears mentioning, that the parable is not about persistence (notice that the borrower only asks once) or about boldness (the man is not bold, rather he is doing what is necessary). The parable is instead about honor – God’s own honor. In Jewish first century society, where hospitality was the highest of values and the obligation of the entire community. The man receiving the traveler does not have enough food to provide an acceptable hospitality (tying in with Luke 10:38-42), so he must go to his neighbor (tying in with Luke 10:36-37). It is expected. The sleeping neighbor has no desire to help because of the inconvenience of getting up, but not helping would be unthinkable, shameful. While the sleeper does not get up because of friendship (notice he does not call the borrower a friend), he will get up to retain honor for himself and the community. So in this case, the parable teaches that God will surely answer prayer because it is an issue of His own honor and glory to do so. The persistence of the neighbor is what in the Greek is shameless (anaideia). The sleeper is honorable. This interpretation certainly has contextual ties with the focus on neighbors (similar to the Good Samaritan parable, Luke 10:25-37) and the high priority of hospitality and honor (Martha and Mary, Luke 10:38-42). And “hallowed by thy name” means “cause your name to be honored” (Luke 11:2).
d.   Luke 11:9-10 - Knowing that God’s honor and his promises are at issue when we pray certainly encourages us to be persistent in intercession. The point is that real prayer, effective prayer, must be in real earnest (James 5:16). Jesus’ proverb that follows points out the petitioner’s responsibility to pray and the certainty of God’s answer.
3.   (For the) PROMISE OF PRAYER (Luke 11:11-13)
a.   (|| Matt 7:7-11) It is a natural and easy transition from the parable and proverb on prayer above to the illustration of a father granting a request of a son. Fathers naturally want to meet their children’s needs with good gifts.
b.   Luke 11:13 – Even a fallen man knows how to give good gifts to his own child. There two words in the original language of the NT for evil. This is the stronger of the two, poneros, used to portray active rebellion against God and goodness, the treachery embedded deep in the human heart. This important understanding of the sinfulness of us humans teaches us that everything we naturally produce is bent toward wickedness. Despite that, Jesus’ illustration points out that even the lost at times reflect the beauty of the design of the Creator and the image of God which God put into humanity. Jesus is teaching by using contrast. If a sinful man gives good gifts to his children, how much more will God, who is totally good, give the greatest gift, the Holy Spirit, to us who through faith are His children. Now that is confident prayer. Note the connection of asking for the Holy Spirit with Luke 10:42; Acts 1:8.

F.F. Bruce, gen. ed. The International Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 1206-7.
Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1993), .
S. MacLean Gilmour, “Luke.” George Arthur Buttrick, gen. ed., The Interpreter’s Bible. Vol. 8 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1952), 8: .
Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1993), 218-9.
Dwight J. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), .
Lawrence O. Richards, The Victor Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Wheaton: Victor, 1994), 178, 180, 183-5.
Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion (Wheaton: Victor, 1991), 662.
David W. Pao and Eckhard J. Schnabel, “Luke,” G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson, gen. eds., Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 322-3.
A.B. Simpson, The Christ in the Bible Commentary. Vol. 4 (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1993), 4: .
David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996), 122-3.
Strauss, Mark. “Luke.” Vol. 1. Clinton E. Arnold, gen. ed. Zondervan Illustratied Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 1:417-420.

[1] It would take too long to go into all the reasons that text critically I lean toward Byzantine readings in the NT and away from all Westcott-Hort-derived texts. Briefly, one is the uncritical consumption of their provided text by inerrantists who do not consider Westcott and Hort's low view of Scripture. Despite that low view of the Text, their theory of transmission sans the Lucian recension is a good one. As Maurice Robinson has shown, if one takes the W-H theory and removes the Lucian recension which has no historical basis in fact anyway, one will come to a Byzantine conclusion on a particular text every time.

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