Red Letter Year: 7/31

Luke 11.1-13

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:

Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon.

Give us each day the food we need,

and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.”

Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 You fathers — if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 So if you sinful 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.”



This passage doesn’t need as much commenting as it needs practice. Luke shortens the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew, making the address more personal, “Father,” which is is how Jesus prayed earlier. Luke also changes from debt to sin with regard to God. This is more consistent with his focus on forgiveness of sins, but losing the parallel does make the prayer a little awkward. Still, Luke’s version is a good deal shorter and maybe easier to keep in a brain full of other stuff. If you’re not used to praying the Lord’s Prayer, give it a try. Or if you do it all the time with Matthew’s version, try Luke’s to make it fresher for you.

The remainder of this passage is unique to Luke’s Gospel, teaching us the importance of persistence in prayer with a memorable little story. Luke will return to this theme in chapter 18. He really wanted us to pray and keep praying expecting our prayers to be answered. How often can our prayers be described as “shamelessly persistent?” Passages like this do get abused, but I think fear of such abuse is a bigger problem. We cringe at how some people go on, so then we don’t really get the message here. While bad teaching, psychological manipulation, and exaggerated results are cringe-worthy, we can also find ourselves cringing just because we don’t do shameless very well.

It’s okay to ask for what you need. My kids ask me for food everyday, several times a day, and it’s always okay that they ask. Amy and I feed them most of the times they ask, though they don’t get all the trips to Lumpy’s they request. It’s okay to tell God what you need, what you want, what your heart’s desire is, even what you would like. You might really need healing. Or you might have a nagging pain that isn’t life threatening, but isn’t barrel of monkeys either. We do okay praying when it’s life threatening (though we could still be more shameless, more persistent), but not as well on the small stuff. God cares about the small stuff too. Ask for it. And keep asking. God can tell you to stop if you’re being a pest.

The other part of this that’s important is to be honest. One of the biggest problems from those bad teaching approaches is they encourage you to lie to yourself, stating that something is true or has happened when it’s not and hasn’t. Don’t do that. Be honest. If you ask for a nagging pain to go away, don’t pretend like it went away if you still feel the pain. You will know when it leaves or when it lessens. And don’t exaggerate either. If it feels 50% better, don’t say it’s all gone, say it’s half gone, but still there. God doesn’t need you to pretend your prayers have been answered. God doesn’t do psychological manipulation. God heals. God delivers. God provides. All the stuff Jesus has been doing in our Gospel readings this year, God still does all of that everyday. When some of that stuff actually happens to you, you will know. And then the shameless persistence will start in earnest.

Pray today. Pray shamelessly. Pray persistently. Pray honest.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Red Letter Year: 7/30

Luke 10:21-42 (part 2)

21 At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way. 22 My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then when they were alone, he turned to the disciples and said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you have seen. 24 I tell you, many prophets and kings longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

36 Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”


We began reflecting on this passage yesterday by focusing on the interaction between the lawyer and Jesus and the Good Samaritan parable (you can read that here). Today, let’s reflect on the short passages before and after that middle section.

The first short passage (vv.21-24) are really the conclusion to the section about the disciples (9.51-10.24). Jesus is overcome with the joy of the Holy Spirit and bursts out into prayer. Luke uses the same language in v.21 as he did in 1.47 to describe Mary being filled with the Spirit as she burst into song. Luke also gives us the rare treat of listening in when Jesus prays to the Father. Then he blesses the disciples, telling them they are very blessed to see his ministry and hear his teachings.

After the Good Samaritan parable, Jesus goes home with Mary and Martha, more women in Luke supporting Jesus’ ministry. Martha honored Jesus with her service (Luke indicates this by having her call Jesus “Lord”), while Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet. Jesus refuses Martha’s request and allows Mary to keep seeing him and listening to him teach. Mary is one of the blessed ones Jesus was talking about in v.24 – she chose to see and hear and is blessed because of that.

And what exactly are they blessed to see and hear? The parable in the middle of these two related scenes tells us that they are primarily blessed to hear that Jesus has brought an end to exclusion. Picking neighbors and non-neighbors is a thing of the past. All that matters now is being a neighbor. Discipleship is open to all. Samaritans are welcome. Sinners are welcome. Tax collectors are welcome. Women are welcome. Jesus blessed Mary for taking a place at his feet that culture told her she had no place occupying. She is the second woman Luke has placed at Jesus’ feet because he wanted to drive home for us what Mary sang to us in chapter 1. All the old rules and restrictions have vanished. All the old privileges have been turned on their heads. Those of us who choose to see and hear and participate in the reversal that Jesus’ kingdom brings are blessed as well. Sit at Jesus’ feet today and let him continue to teach you how to be a neighbor.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.