November 24th, 2006
Mohandas Gandhi was an expert at achieving political change through non-violent protests. One of his goals was to get the British to leave India so that it could become independent. He helped lead poor farmers and labourers in protests against oppressive taxation rules and discrimination. Eventually Gandhi’s persistence in making a nuisance of himself to the British paid off when India became an independent country. It’s strange that Jesus should suggest that God needs to be asked multiple times before he will so something for us, but Jesus is clearly teaching us to be persistent in prayer, and to keep asking God again and again until our prayers are answered.
Luke’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 11
11:1 One day after Jesus had been praying, one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 11:2 He said to them, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be venerated. May your Kingdom come. May your will be done on Earth, as it is in heaven. 11:3 Give us each day our daily bread. 11:4 Forgive us our sins, just as we forgive everyone who is indebted to us, and keep us away from temptations.'”
11:5 He asked them, “If you have a friend and go to him at midnight saying, ‘Friend, please lend me three loaves of bread, 11:6 because one of my friends is visiting me and I have nothing to feed him,’ 11:7 what is he going to answer? ‘Don’t bother me. The door is closed. My children are in bed and so am I. I can’t get up and give it to you?’ 11:8 I tell you, even if friendship isn’t enough to make him get up and give it, he will get up and give you as many loaves as you need because of your persistence.
11:9 “So I tell you, ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you. 11:10 Everyone who asks receives. Whoever seeks finds. Whoever knocks gets an open door. 11:11 If you are a father and your son asks for a fish, will you give him a snake instead of a fish? 11:12 If he asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? 11:13 If you evil people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
11:14 Jesus cast out a demon which caused muteness, and when the demon was gone the mute man spoke. The crowd was amazed. 11:15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of the demons.” 11:16 Others wanted to test him, and asked him for a sign from heaven. 11:17 He knew what they were thinking and said, “Every kingdom divided against itself comes to ruin. A house divided against itself falls. 11:18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom remain? You say that I cast out demons by the power of Beelzebul. 11:19 But if I cast out demons by the power of Beelzebul, what power do your children use to cast them out? Let them be your judges. 11:20 On the other hand, if I am casting out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived.
11:21 “When a fully armed strong man guards his house, his property is safe. 11:22 But when someone stronger attacks him and overpowers him, the stronger man takes all the armour in which he trusted, and divides the plunder.
11:23 “Whoever is not with me is against me. Whoever doesn’t gather with me scatters. 11:24 An unclean spirit which leaves a person passes through dry places, seeking rest. Finding no rest, it says, ‘I will return to my house which I left.’ 11:25 It returns to find the house swept and tidied up. 11:26 Then it goes to get seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in to live there. The person is in a much worse position than before.”
11:27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd shouted out, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts which nursed you!” 11:28 But he said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God, and obey it.”
11:29 The crowd was growing, and he said, “This is an evil generation. It wants to see a miraculous sign. It won’t be given any sign except the sign of Jonah, the prophet. 11:30 Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation. 11:31 The Queen of the South will stand up at the judgment with the people of this generation, and will condemn them, because she came from the end of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and yet someone greater than Solomon is here. 11:32 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation, and will condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and yet someone greater than Jonah is here.
11:33 “No one lights a lamp and then puts it in a cellar or under a basket. You put it on a stand, so that people who come into the house can see the light. 11:34 The lamp of the body is the eye. When your eye is good, your whole body is full of light. But when your eye is evil, your body is full of darkness. 11:35 So check to see whether the light that is in you isn’t in fact darkness. 11:36 If your whole body is full of light, with no part dark, you will be completely radiant, as if a floodlight is shining on you.”
11:37 As he spoke, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him. He went in and sat at the table. 11:38 The Pharisee was surprised to see that he did not wash himself before dinner. 11:39 The Lord said to him, “You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but your inside is full of greediness and wickedness. 11:40 You fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? 11:41 If you give what you have on the inside to the poor, everything will be clean for you. 11:42 But woe to you Pharisees! You tithe mint and rue and every herb, but you overlook justice and the love of God. You ought to have done these, without leaving the other things undone. 11:43 Woe to you Pharisees! You love to take the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted respectfully in the marketplaces. 11:44 Woe to you, religious lawyers and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like hidden graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”
11:45 One of the lawyers said, “Teacher, in saying this you insult us also.”
11:46 He said, “Woe to you lawyers too! You put burdens on people that are difficult to carry, and you yourselves won’t even lift one finger to help carry those burdens. 11:47 Woe to you! You build tombs for the prophets, and your ancestors killed them. 11:48 So you are witnesses and approve of the acts of your ancestors. On the one hand they killed them, and on the other hand you build the tombs. 11:49 The wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles. They will kill and persecute some of them, 11:50 so that this generation will be responsible for the blood of all the prophets which has been shed since the foundation of the world, 11:51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who died between the altar and the sanctuary.’ Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held accountable. 11:52 Woe to you lawyers! You take away the key of knowledge. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you stop other people who are trying to enter.”
11:53 As he left, the religious lawyers and Pharisees engaged him in hostile cross-examination. 11:54 They lay in wait for him, trying to catch him saying something which they could use against him.