Sunday, 24 July 2016

Is God unjust?

Trinity 9 – 24 July 2016 – WING Buckinghamshire

Gospel Luke 11

Welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

11 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:

hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”

5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”


Daily repetition of Lord’s Prayer — masks shocking nature of Jesus’ words.

· God addressed by name

· Jesus calls God by familial Abba

· We are to pray with shameless audacity (11:8)

· God may otherwise deliberately lead us into temptation

Jesus was praying probably aloud— disciples asked — they wanted to be taught to pray in practical way — like John the Baptist taught his followers. Did Jesus’ disciples not already know how to pray?

God portrayed as unjust — like Unjust Judge in Parable of Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-18) — parable taught by Jesus ‘to show them that they should always pray and not give up.’ Here again in Lord’s Prayer — householder does help through neighbourliness but petitioner’s shameless audacity.

Jesus says Ask and it will be given to you — is that your experience? — are ALL prayers answered? — if not, what did Jesus actually mean? — or are we doing it wrong?

These are contentious issues — should not discourage us from prayer — we should seek to understand its place in our daily lives.

Not optional — Jesus prayed regularly

· Commenced as Holy Spirit descended on him at baptism

· Wrestled with God in Gethsemane

· But encouraged active listening — previous chapter with advice to Mary and Martha — better way is to listen and learn rather than busy yourself with activity all the time however helpful.

Whatever difficulties in interpretation — God is compassionate — wants to give us what he wants us to have — including daily bread although that might sound hollow in places of famine and deprivation.

Our ultimate aim — to be tucked up in bed as inheritors and members of God’s household — not outside knocking with our petitions as “friend of a friend” or even neighbours. We long to become full members of God’s household and share God’s mind in the fullness of the Kingdom.

Lord’s Prayer — 5 petitions:

1. Hallowed be thy name — hallowed and sanctified mean made holy — having received gift of Holy Spirit

2. Coming of the Kingdom — we are asking for something God longs to give — Kingdom is revealed in Jesus. Kingdom not yet fully come — has come near or is at hand (references throughout the gospels)
Kingdom like rising dough — all ingredients are there — will in fullness of time come to finality — we are to proclaim the Kingdom even though it is not yet come in all its fullness

3. Daily Bread — trust in God’s mercies every day — God knows our needs before we ask for them — be like lilies or ravens.
Beware of excess — we only need essentials of life not excess that leads to inequality and sin of possession
God is present to us through Jesus in breaking of the bread — Lord’s Prayer comes in Eucharist

4. Forgive sins and debts — different translations affect meaning — forgive also means Release — debtors released from indebtedness at Jubilee — word debt also means sin
Jesus offers release of captives and eyes for those who are blind:
Nazareth in Temple — quoting Isaiah 58 and 61
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

God will not forgive us unless we forgive others.

5. Lead us not into temptation — NRSV “time of trial” — Jesus himself was tempted in wilderness and elsewhere — when Satan’s moment came, the Holy Spirit led him through — and the Spirit will also guide us in time of trial — this is what Jesus told the disciples to pray for in a number of references in the gospels.

What is Prayer? — to petition God? — to remind him of his duty towards us? — to seek to change his mind?

Amusing yes, but how often do Christians treat prayer in these and other ways that are wrong?

How would you define prayer?

· Shape our mind to God’s

· Align our thoughts and intentions to those of the Creator

· Make us fit for the Kingdom?

· Help us live the only life worthwhile — one rooted in God’s love.

13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”


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