Luke 11:1-4 Prayer According To His Will.
We live in a day and age when people want to “dumb down” prayer. It is treated as something that seems like it shouldn’t even be taught. Just talk to God like you would your buddy, is the thought of many. However, it was common practice in biblical times that prayer was taught. As John had taught his disciples how to pray, even so Jesus’ disciples ask Him (v. 1). Some have the notion that prayer somehow changes God’s will in one’s favour. However, the truth is, it conforms our will with His. This model prayer, or the Lord’s prayer, in fact mirrors the ten commandments.
“Our Father,” is the believer’s response to the first commandment, our covenant LORD redeeming us as His own, commanding that we have no other gods before him (Ex. 20:1-3). “Which art in heaven,” is our repudiation of the sin of idolatry, and man’s sinful attempt to worship what God has made and man has fashioned with his own hands and imagination (Ex. 20:4-6). “Hallowed be Your name,” is our refusal to take His name in vain (Ex. 20:7). As the puritans were accustomed to say, all the commands have their opposites. To hallow His name is the opposite of taking it in vain, and to not hallow it, is to take it in vain.
The Sabbath day is that day of rest when we reflect on the goal of our labours here on earth-that His kingdom would come. This is our true rest, and this is the rest the Lord Himself enjoyed at the dawn of creation. This is the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God (Ex. 20:8 Cf. Heb. 4:1-10). “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” shifts our vision to the relations we have with our fellow human beings here on earth, and that first of our relationships-father and mother (Ex. 20:12) Parents are a child’s first governmental leaders in church and state. The goal of this honour to these leaders is that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The fifth command comes with the promise of prosperity in the earth-one’s daily bread. Break the commandment to honour one’s parents and this promise could not be claimed. Do not seek that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and one should not expect to receive their daily bread. The next five commands concerns our neighbours. “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house,” you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Ex. 20:13-17)
All of these commands concerning our neighbour require daily forgiveness, just as does the first five. “And forgive us our sins, for we also forgave everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (v. 4 Cf. Eph. 4:32) Prayer is not so much asking for what the Lord already knows we need, as it is aligning our will with His (Mt. 6:1-4). “Now this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (I Jn. 5:14) “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” (I Jn. 3:22)
Luke 11:5-13 Persevering In Prayer.
The example Jesus gave of the person who goes to a friend at midnight for food for a friend visiting him, emphasizes that one should persevere in prayer. It is not as though God cannot be moved unless we keep asking (vv. 5-8). “Men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” (Lk. 18:1) As in the model prayer Jesus just gave, the issue is more with us (vv. 1-4). Are we serious in our prayers or not? This is the point-if we ask, seek, and knock according to God’s will, He will answer us (vv. 9-10 Cf. Mt. 7:7-8; 21:22; I Jn. 5:14-15). It is God’s will to give us that which is good for us (vv. 11-12 Cf. Mt. 7:9-11; Js. 1:17). In particular, the Holy Spirit is given to all those who want to be in the family of God (v. 13). One must believe and not doubt (Cf. Mt. 21:22; Mk. 11:24; Js. 1:5-6). Answers come for those who abide in Christ (Jn. 15:7), and abiding shows itself in those who keep His commandments (I Jn. 3:22).
Luke 11:14-23 Jesus’ Presuppositional Argument-A House United.
It would appear that most of the people in the crowd simply marvelled that Jesus was delivering the demon possessed from their slavery (v. 14) However, some surmised that Jesus casts out demons because he served the ruler of the demons (v. 15). From Matthew we learn that at least some of these were Pharisees (9:32-34; 12:22-24). What should have been seen as an obvious sign of God’s kingdom, they twisted around to mean the exact opposite. This is a good example of what happens so often in the area of apologetics. Evidences, not just in apologetics, but in all thought, are subject to the presuppositions of the interpreter. The worldview of the unregenerate will always view evidences through the prism of their own presuppositions, every bit as much as the true Christian.
The true Christian is honest about their beliefs, namely that the first axiom of all thought and existence is the word of God. In asking for a sign, others who did not accept the meaning of the sign which they were given, were really just looking for another sign to supposedly refute. In a backhanded way, they were not only rejecting the sign given, they believed that it proved their unbelief (v. 16 Cf. Mt. 12:38; 16:1-4; Mk. 8:11-12). Jesus states what should be obvious. “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.” (vv. 17-18) Those who were released from their bondage were now free from Satan’s rule. How could this be seen as anything other than his defeat? However, Jesus’ presuppositional argument does not end there.
Jesus then seeks to take their presupposition to its logical conclusion, to show the inconsistencies and contradictions in their own thought. “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out?” Perfectly reasonable deduction one would think. Hence Jesus words, “Therefore they will be your judges.” (v. 19) For Jesus, it should have shown to them that the kingdom of God had come upon them (v. 20). As we read in Matthew, he did so by the Spirit of God (12:28), therefore they were not only falsely accusing Him but in effect they were calling the Spirit unholy! This is why in Mark we find Jesus making this very judgment against them (3:28-30). Presuppositions have consequences. This discussion was more than a philosophical or theological discourse.
He then gives an example to prove to them the truthfulness of His presupposition. A stronger man is what is required to overtake one who has set up guards to protect himself and his property (vv. 21-22). The man who was delivered ceased to be Satan’s property. Here is the basic truth: “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (v. 23) Since a house can’t be divided, those who accused Jesus of being in league with the devil must have been from another house. When Jesus came to His own, in particular the religious leadership, He was giving them a choice-either accept His truth claims or be subject to old covenant lawsuit judgment. One thing is certain, with Jesus the kingdom of God had come upon them, and this meant the destruction of Satan’s false rule (Cf. Col. 2:15).
Luke 11:24-28 Hearing The Word and Doing It.
When a person is demon possessed, it is Satan saying that that person is his property. Jesus said that the demon cast out wanders and finds no rest, so they return to what they regard as their house (v. 24 Cf. Mt. 12:43-45). When they return to a person who has been freed they find that the house has been cleaned up, and everything is set in order (v. 25). This is what happens to one who has been delivered, they gain control over their own lives. However, something seems to be missing, for as Jesus goes on to say, the demon gathers some of his cohorts and together they are able to re-occupy the person (v. 26).
It almost seems that before Jesus could make His concluding point that He gets interrupted. A woman cries out, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” (v. 27) This no doubt strikes us as odd in our day and age, but in effect she marvelled at Jesus’ insights, but she evidently attributed it to His parental nurturing. So His answer is a corrective to the woman, Jesus Himself was blessed because He heard the word of God and kept it (v. 28 Cf. Mt. 12:46-50). However, it is also the point to his story regarding the demon possessed. The only sure defense in life against Satan and the forces of evil is to hear the word and do it.
Luke 11:29-36 The Light Of Revelation And Redemption.
Jesus said that the only sign that would be given to an evil generation was the sign of the prophet Jonah (v. 29 Cf. Mt. 12:38-42). From what has come before, it seems clear that He is referring to unbelieving Jews here (Cf. I Cor. 1:22). This is a response to the question asked earlier, where they requested a sign (v. 16). In effect, Jesus own presence is a sign of the progress of revelation and redemptive history and its fulfillment (v. 30). It is suggested that there is a parallel with Jonah because he was three days in the belly of a whale, but it is more likely that it was the fact that Jonah was sent to a nation outside of Israel. Jonah was in the belly of a whale because he was reluctant to answer this call (Cf. 1:12). Likewise, the queen of Sheba (southern Arabia) traveled a great distance to hear Solomon speak, and now a greater than Solomon was here (v. 31 Cf. I Kgs. 10:1-9; II Chr. 9:1-8). Part of Jonah’s reluctance was that he feared that the Ninevites would repent, and they did. Because they did, the Ninevites would sit in judgment on unbelieving Israel in Jesus day (v. 32 Cf. Jonah 3).
What follows also seems to have some reference to Jonah. Jonah in effect wanted to put the light of the word of God and promise of redemption, “in a secret place under a basket” (v. 33). A lamp is put out into a room so that it can give light to the whole area (Cf. Mt. 6:22-24). This was in effect God’s plan in giving His word to the Israelite nation. However, this also comes down to personal individual trust and accountability. As Jesus said, the eye is the lamp of the body, and what it needs more than anything else, is the word of God (vv. 34-35 Cf. II Pet. 1:19). It was the word which Jonah was called to preach, and which the queen of Sheba travelled to hear. If we give due attention to this word, it will permeate our whole lives, and it will impact everything we think, say, and do (Cf. Mk. 4:21-25; Lk. 8:16-18; Eph. 5:8; I Th. 5:5). Part of this light is not being reluctant, like Jonah was, to take this light into the world. Just as Jesus is the light (Cf. Jn. 1:4, 9; 8:12; 12:35-36), we should shine as the “the light of the world” (Mt. 5:14-16). “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (Jn. 12:46).
Luke 11:37-54 Woes On The Scribes, Pharisees, And Lawyers.
Given what Jesus has said concerning the leadership of Israel, it seems surprising that a Pharisee would invite Him to his house for meal (v. 37). In keeping with their preoccupation with outward ceremonies, the Pharisee is disturbed by Jesus bypassing the act of washing before dinner (v. 38). This seems to be a tradition they had, which was of higher concern to them than the law of God, in some cases using their tradition to reject God’s law (Cf. Mt. 15:1-20; Mk. 7:1-23). They lacked integrity. Where our outward behaviour should reflect our core or the heart, mind, and conscience of who we are, for those following these manmade traditions, they went to great lengths to wash the outside while inside they were contaminated with all sorts of corruptions (v. 39 Cf. Gen. 6:5; Mt. 23:25; Titus 1:15). But as Jesus said, He who made the outside made the inside also (v. 40 Cf. Gen. 1:26-27). Giving from the heart to help others was far more important, and in keeping with God’s revealed will (v. 41 Cf. Is. 58:7; Dan. 4:27; Lk. 12:33; 16:9).
To this condition Jesus pronounces His woes (Cf. 6:24-26). Tithing certain herbs was fine, but not to the neglect of “justice and the love of God” (v. 42 Cf. Jn. 5:42), or as Matthew has it, “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith” (23:23). This echoes the message of the prophets. Hosea emphasized mercy and the knowledge of God (6:6), and Micah pointed to justice, mercy, and humility before God (6:8). This knowledge and love of God and humility before Him, goes hand in hand with justice, mercy, and compassion. However, when it came to the Pharisees they exchanged humility for pride, desiring the “best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces” (v. 43 Cf. 20:45-47; Mt. 23:6-7; Mk. 12:38-40). The scribes and Pharisees were like graves with people not aware that death was inside them (v. 44 Cf. Mt. 23:27; Ps. 5:9). The lawyers sensed that they were as guilty as the scribes and Pharisees, but instead of absolving them, Jesus has some special woes for them (v. 45).
The lawyers were guilty of multiplying burdens on people without offering assistance, and who built tombs for the prophets whom their fathers had killed (vv. 46-47 Cf. Mt. 23:4, 29; Acts 7:52), they thus bore witness against themselves (v. 48). Therefore, God in His wisdom was bringing on that generation the judgment of all those leaders in apostate Israel down through the ages, who rejected God’s holy and infallible word, “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple” (vv. 49-51 Cf. Gen. 4:8; II Chr. 24:20-21; 36:16). This whole section of woes is in effect and in reality, the Lord’s covenant lawsuit against an apostate leadership and people (Cf. Dt. 28:15ff.). “Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever” (Dt. 28:45-46).
“Yes, I say to you, it shall come upon this generation” (v. 51). In rejecting Jesus, that generation was also rejecting the law and the prophets which spoke of Him. In doing this they had taken away “the key of knowledge”, not entering themselves they also hindered others from doing so. “Through their traditional interpretation of the law, the “lawyers” had made it impossible for ordinary people to understand the true meaning of the law. The Pharisees and lawyers themselves also used their traditions to evade the demands of the law (cf. Mark 7:5-13).” (NGSB, p. 1629) Sadly, this same process happens with those who operate with faulty methods of bible study or biblical hermeneutics. Not surprisingly, the scribes and Pharisees didn’t like what they were hearing and began to cross-examine “to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him” (v. 54). Rather than answer His examination of them, in their pride they presumed to sit in judgment on Him. Once again we see that with Jesus there really is no neutral ground.