Luke 10:25–11:13. Three Wants
and How They Were Met.
Key Notes: Eternal life? Who is my neighbor. The Good Samaritan.. Sit and soak; work and go dry. The Lord's Prayer. Pray.
In this section, Jesus responded to three different requests.
How can I inherit eternal life?
Make my sister help me.
Teach us to pray.
Although the needs differ widely, they all center on our relationship with God.
10:25 The lawyer who asked "what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" was testing Jesus, but was asking the right question. He had mixed motives but he knew that the question was profoundly important and it led him to involvement with Jesus.
In His answer, to our surprise, Jesus directed him to the Law, just as He did the Rich Young Ruler (Matt.19:17). We need to be reminded that Law comes before Grace; and sin comes before the Cross. The Law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ so that we may be saved by faith. Gal.3:24
The lawyer answered masterfully, he capsulized all 613 written OT commandments and the Ten Commandments with quotations from Deut.6:5 and Lev.19:18:
Love God supremely; love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus said if he did that he would live--have eternal life.
The lawyer wanted to limit the cost. Loving God was an impossible task, but he might be able to minimize the number of people he was responsible to. The Greek word for neighbor is "the one nearby".
So who is nearby?
Jesus' story has two devout people of Israel leaving a wounded man to his fate, and a despised Samaritan doing a wonderful job of caring for a Jew. He asked who was neighbor to the wounded man, shifting the focus from the victim to the observer. The lawyer had asked "who is my neighbor?" Jesus responded with a question, "Who was neighbor to this wounded man?"
You do not define the neighbor as someone else; you are the neighbor. The neighbor is not only the one who receives mercy, but the one who gives it. So the lawyer was not off the hook. Jesus sent the lawyer away to be merciful, like the Samaritan, a large order. Introspection should inform him that he cannot love God or be merciful to his neighbor, and he must come back for help. Hopefully, he went away with a heavy heart.
10:38 Martha had invited Jesus into her house. She was preparing a feast, and was irritated to find her sister, Mary, intently listening while Jesus was teaching the disciples. Who was going to make the gravy? The rice was burning! The fruit was not washed! Lord, make her help me!
I think Jesus laughed and said learning from Him was more important than preparing a big dinner.
We can caricature church people into marys and marthas. The mary-types sit and soak--and don't work. They may even promise to work, and not show up. Marthas work and sweat and don't listen. I have seen church trustees sit in the church kitchen and drank coffee during morning service. They work; they just don’t want to listen to the sermon.
If we merely sit and soak, we get sour.
If we merely work and sweat, we get dry, and perhaps burn out.
Paul soaked up God's revelation for three years, and then worked—and prayed—furiously for the next 20. We need to balance the mary and martha sides of our spiritual activity.
11:1–13 The disciples found Jesus at the end of prayer and asked Jesus to teach them to pray, as John the Baptist did. In reply Jesus taught them first words to pray, then to be earnest and persistent in prayer, and how to think of God in prayer.
What to pray? Say:
"Father"--Our first word for God. It is a relational, intimate name implying clearly that we are His children.
"May your Name be holy." Holiness is God's most important communicable attribute. It defines His character. God is nothing if not holy.
The "name" is very important. The "name" is God's own person.
The Name of God is a strong tower. Prov.18:10
He makes His Name to dwell with us. Deut.12:5
We believe in His Name. Jn.1:12
We are kept in His Name. Jn.17:11
We are justified in His Name. ICor.6:11
We are baptized in the Name. Matt.28:19
"Thy kingdom come". There is enough in that sentence to fill a book but the request is simply that God extend His rule to all peoples on earth. That is the goal of missions.
"Give us this day our daily bread". This covers, I think, all our daily needs, for food, clothing and shelter. It includes requests for the energy supplies to provide food, clean water and relative peace.
"And forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us." This request requires introspection. Have I forgiven everyone who owes me? What grudges am I holding against people? I have listened to senior Christians who struggle to forgive, believing that they are not legally compelled to because we live under grace, not under law. Their argument is that Jesus was operating under Mosaic law before the Atonement was completed. But Paul, long after the Resurrection, said "...as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." Col. 3:13 and again, "...forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you." Eph.4:32
The striking feature of the prayer is its brevity, probably a guarantee that it would be memorized. It may have been said on a different occasion than the slightly longer version found in Matthew.
The prayer leaves out many things for which prayer is encouraged by Jesus and the apostles. We are told elsewhere to pray for:
1. laborers in the harvest Lk.10:2
2. the Holy Spirit. Lk.11:13
3. wisdom. Jm.1:5
4. kings and those in authority. ITim.2:2
5. the sick. Jm.5:15
6. our enemies. Matt.5:44
Are not all of these covered under "Thy Kingdom come"?
Then Jesus told a parable which teaches persistence and He encouraged the disciples to ask, to seek, and to knock, with the promise that receiving, finding and seeing opportunities would follow.
How can we avoid the trap of "much speaking"? For the doubtful, He went on to say that our Heavenly Father has our interests at heart much more than our earthly fathers. He will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.
Prayer is a hard spiritual discipline. Emergency prayers come automatically. The asking, seeking, knocking kind of prayer is different; we are less pressured in our request and the answers may be less dramatic, sometimes not realized until much later. Our capacity for prayer increases with age; the older we become, the more of the world we see and can pray for.
Lord, teach us to pray and not quit.
Let us pray for the Holy Spirit's fullness in our lives.