2017-06-18 – Luke 11:5-13 – Parables of Jesus – Persistent Prayer
5 And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
9 “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for[a] a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Good morning everyone. I am so pleased that you chose to spend the morning with us here today..
Last week we went over the parable of the Good Samaritan.
It taught us that as Christian disciples, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. There are no hard-and-fast rules as to who is your neighbor, but it’s clear that when the Lord brings someone in need across your path, the expectation is that you will prove to be his or her neighbor. The challenge of the parable is to “go and do likewise,” to be compassionate and loving Christians.
In that regard I have a little graphic to share with you. I posted this on Facebook a few days ago with the message “Praying for our Neighbors”. I would argue, that we don’t know our neighbors well enough. We need to reach out to them more to become not only a physical neighbor but a real neighbor in the sense that Jesus is challenging us to be. My plea is that you will join me in prayer for them and maybe also some kind gesture in the coming months to show the people near us, our neighbors, that we do care for them. We are also now preparing for Vacation Bible School, and some of these neighbor children will be coming to our church. I will endeavor to visit these neighbors and I appreciate your partnership in becoming a better neighbor as well, okay?
Today we are going over the parable generally called The Friend at Night from Luke 11:5-13, Page 72 of the New Testament in our Bible, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. But first let us Pray…
This parable is a good follow-up to last week’s parable message as it also deals with our neighbor. It is also an extension if you will to the commandment by Jesus to “Love thy Neighbor as thyself”. Many people these days don’t even know their neighbors. They may live in the same house all their adult lives but still don’t know their neighbor. Let’s do an audit here. Be honest, how many people know all their neighbors within a block radius? How about the right ones next door? It is important to know your neighbors, to be ambassadors for Christ to them and most importantly to be in pray for them. Let us make that effort. Okay?
This eleventh chapter of Luke begins with Jesus praying, and when He is done, His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. It was here that Jesus taught them to pray what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer” which we all prayed this morning here in the church and most Sunday mornings as well. A beautiful prayer it is for sure.
Luke continues in this chapter with the theme of “teach us to pray” by moving directly into the parable called The Friend at Midnight. This is a short parable that is immediately followed by a saying or poem that continues to teach the disciples and us about prayer. Let’s take a look at the parable. In verse 5 it says:
And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.”
Jesus begins this parable with a long rhetorical question, a question to which virtually every first-century Jewish person in the crowd would probably answer, “Absolutely not!” Effectively He asked, “Can you imagine being approached by a neighbor at night who is asking to borrow some bread to feed an unexpected visitor, to whom you would reply, ‘The kids are in bed and the door is locked, I can’t help you’?” That just wouldn’t happen, it is absolutely an absurd notion.
You should know that hospitality in first-century Israel was a deeply ingrained standard. If a guest was visiting a family in the village, they would be considered really to be visiting the whole community. In this case, the needs of the man hosting his friend would become a community responsibility. As such, it was the expected duty of the sleeping man, no matter how inconvenient, to get out of bed in order to help the neighbor with the three loaves requested.
Jesus knew that none of the listeners in the audience that day would refuse to get out of bed, no matter what time it was to help a neighbor in need. They all knew the importance of the neighbor in need being able to show proper hospitality to his visitor. And since it was suggested that they didn’t have the necessary food, the neighbor would certainly get up and give the bread that was requested. No one would make such excuses as the children being asleep or the door being locked. Jesus knew that, and everyone listening knew it as well—which, as we will see, is one of the major points of the parable.
The importance of showing hospitality is seen by the fact that the neighbor goes as far as disturbing the sleeping man and waking up his family in order to request bread. In fact, he may actually be asking for more than bread; as when he says, “a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that the neighbor has no food in his house. The original listeners would have understood that the neighbor was probably saying that he didn’t have the food that was adequate for the visitor. In such an instance, a first-century host would do what he could to offer his guest the best he could possibly give, even if he must borrow it or spend beyond his means. It was part of the normal and expected culture of hospitality.
At the end of the parable, Jesus says the sleeping man will rise and give the neighbor whatever he needs. So it may be that more than bread is given.
How did the man know that the sleeping neighbor man had bread on hand? Well, village women would generally bake their bread in batches, often with the help of other women, so it would be known who in the neighborhood had recently baked a batch of bread and would likely have some available.
As for the sleeper’s concern about waking his children: Peasant homes consisted of one room, with the whole family sleeping on mats on the floor. Arising from bed, getting the bread, and unbolting the door would most likely awaken the whole family. But for a legitimate request such as the duty to put adequate food on the table so that the neighbor’s visitor could be shown proper hospitality, it was a given that such an inconvenience would be tolerated.
The parable started with the question “Which of you,” to which the listener would think, “No one”. Jesus then verbalizes the answer. He says that even though the sleeping man in the parable was reluctant to rise and give the neighbor the bread, because he is a neighbor and friend, he will do so because of the man’s persistence or impudence.
Bible scholars debate the meaning of the Greek word, anaideia, which is translated shamelessness and impudence, which means offensively bold behavior; assurance, accompanied with a disregard of the presence or opinions of others; lack of shame; forwardness.
Instead of seeing the man needing to borrow bread as being persistent, we should actually see him as a person willing to risk being bothersome to the neighbor for a good reason, as one who has the assurance that even though waking up his neighbor will seem rude, his request will be granted. The man is asking boldly and without shame.
When looked at this parable in light of the disciples’ initial request of “teach us to pray,” Jesus’ story encourages us to pray with such anaideia boldness, to come before God without shame when asking for our needs. The point Jesus was making was: If the sleeping man will rise and respond to the request from his neighbor in need, then how much more will God answer our prayers when we bring our requests to Him?
This parable is a story of everyday life, which teaches us that God will answer prayer. He will rise up, as the sleeping man did, and will generously give us what we need. Jesus had just finished teaching His disciples the Lord’s Prayer, which includes the words “give us this day our daily bread,” and He followed it up with a parable about someone needing bread. The point being made is that we should boldly make our requests known to God, and have the assurance that He will answer.
Jesus further makes this point in the next two verses, in which He says:
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Following these two verses is another short parable of the Father’s good gifts, which gives further information regarding prayer. I felt this is a wonderful complement to a Father’s day message. This parable has a presentation similar to the one of the friend at midnight. It begins with a question:
What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
The inferred answer would be that no father would do such a thing.
No father would give his son a snake instead of a fish, a scorpion instead of an egg, or, as it says in Matthew’s Gospel, a stone for a loaf of bread. That would have been obvious to the listeners that day. Jesus then finishes the parable with:
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
Here again, Jesus is using the lesser-to-the-greater technique. If an earthly father, who is evil in comparison to the perfection of God the Father, gives his children good gifts, how much more will God give the great gift of His Holy Spirit to those who ask?
If children who ask their parents for food won’t instead be given harmful things, how much more can we trust that God our Father, who is infinitely greater than all earthly parents, will give us good things in response to our prayers?—Including His presence in us through the Holy Spirit?
This eleventh chapter of Luke shines a light on a number of important prayer principles: 1) That we need to come confidently before God in prayer, asking with boldness for our needs, with the knowledge and assurance that if we ask, we will receive; 2) That if we knock, doors will be opened. And 3) Jesus also makes the point that if we can expect those who love and care for us—our neighbors and our parents—to give us our daily bread—food and other vital needs—then we can count on God, our heavenly Father to do the same, and even immensely more. We can come boldly before Him in prayer, knowing He will care for us. Father God loves you dear church family, always has, always does, and always will. Amen?
Now I will ask for your leniency today as we switch gears from the parables in this message to a closing message specifically to Fathers. Just as our Father in Heaven loves us, so too should love be a priority function of our earthly fathers.
When our children come to church they learn the lesson that God is their heavenly Father. Our earthly fathers, whether they be biological, step, or stand-in, great as they are, they are still just a mere shadow or partial reflection of that of our Father God in heaven. At our best, we will still be imperfect fathers. We will always be imperfect models because we are imperfect people. But God uses the family unit, especially fatherhood to give us a glimpse of Himself. We, fathers are examples from which our children might learn something about the love and authority of our Father God.
Here are some suggestions on how dads might get fatherhood right – still imperfect, but right in intention:
- Show your children how to love. Dads, make sure your children know that you love them. Let them know you love them when they succeed, and let them know you love them when they fail. Be certain they know that your love is unconditional. That you love them whether they do right or wrong. That you love them even when you discipline them, and that you discipline them because you love them.Proverbs 3:12says, “The Lord disciplines the one he loves, just as a father disciplines the child in whom he delights.” Unconditional love is a powerful force in the life of a child.
And, make sure they know without a shadow of a doubt that you love their mother. Teach them by your actions how a man is to treat his wife. Live out Ephesians 5:25, where it says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” Show by your love and sacrifice that you treasure your wife so they can see what a healthy model should look like.
- Show your children how to love the church and the things of God. I wasn’t blessed with a father that went to church, and it took me decades to get this right. But fathers should be the spiritual leader of the family. Take your family to church and assume your intended leadership role in their spiritual development. Show them how much you value value this institution formed by the Lord. It is God’s will that your family is part of a church family.
Show your kids that the things of God are important to you. Help them see that church is God’s idea, the Bible is God’s Word, and that prayer is talking to God. Let them see this by how you spend your time and your money. Let them see this by what you talk about and even more importantly by what you do. Be that example that they long for and require.
- Show your children how to love Jesus and to follow Him closely. Faith is about more than going to church or being a moral person. Ultimately, it is about a personal relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. Let your children know by your words and your actions that Jesus is your Savior, your Lord and the center of your life..
Tell them about when you first trusted Christ. Talk to them about what God is doing in your life currently. Let them clearly know your devotional life, that their father reads his Bible and spends time with the Lord daily in prayer.
Dads, just like me, you are going to get some things wrong in this thing called parenting; nobody is perfect except Jesus. But I challenge you here: Let your children know that you love Jesus more than them, and that this love makes you love them more than you ever could have otherwise. Let them know that your commitment to Jesus not only gives you a home in heaven one day, but it makes your home, their home better in this day as well.
Dads, we live in a wicked world these days, and your children’s foundation needs to be solid. You are a huge part of that foundation. And the priority you place on heavenly things, will impact your children’s and your children’s children’s eternity. If your not sure where to start, may I suggest on your knees. Just as Jesus said in our parable today, “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
[Alter Call & Prayer] – Please Stand..
Before we leave today..
Remember on mother’s day we played a video where these two women got in front of a mega-church and recited the “Mom’s Song” to the song of the William Tell Overture. It was a long song about the Mom’s grueling day dealing with the children and family and it was quite humorous.
Well I did some searching and I found that Anita Renfroe, the author and singer of the “Mom’s Song” actually created a “Dad’s Song” as well.. and I have it for ya today, I hope you enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeTaSmXAXH0