Thursday, December 6, 2012

Luke 11

Chapter 11 begins with teaching on prayer. Luke's version of the "Lord's Prayer" is somewhat abbreviated when compared to Matthew, however, the prayer was never intended to be a rote memory religious exercise but a structure for prayer. Prayer 1) acknowledges God (Father holy is your name); 2) aligns us with God's purposes (thy kingdom come!); 3) we pray for our physical needs (give us each our daily bread); 4) we pray for our spiritual needs (forgive us our sins); 5) we pray for our relationship with others (for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us); 6) finally, we pray for help in times of difficulty (do not bring us to the time of trial). This is a structure for prayer and when compared with Matthew the phrases may have changed slightly but the structure and intent is identical. I don't believe the words of the prayer have any inherent value -- what matters is the structure, the focus and intent of the prayer.

5-13 is about being persistent in prayer. Prayer changes us. When I continually place myself in the presence of God and my needs in God's hands this changes me and my attitude and makes me deeply aware of God's abundant grace. God's love always knows what is best for us (we don't get scorpions when we ask for eggs).

14-26 Jesus is accused of being in league with devil or Satan. This is a pretty common charge. Whenever we are aligned with the religious establishment and the power structures of the world in which we live we look to those who are challenging those structures and expectations as evil and beneath contempt. It would have been extraordinary that Jesus, who was challenging the core of the religious establishment not to have been considered in league with the evil one. Whenever someone challenges prevailing opinion or prevailing theological positions this charge is leveled against them.

37-54 The chapter ends with Jesus denouncing the Pharisees and the Lawyers (or Scribes). The Scribes and the Pharisees along with the chief priests are the ones most invested in the prevailing religious establishment (and are the ones most benefiting from it). These religious groups have consistently denounced Jesus and his message and his work. Jesus turns up the pressure on them by openly denouncing their practices, their attitudes and the consequences of their work.

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