Father, help me pray as Jesus prayed, and give me persistence in prayer. Remind me again and again that You are a kind Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children. I pray today that You, the Lord of the harvest, will send out more workers into the world’s harvest fields. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Luke 10-12
Luke 10 Jesus sends out 70 followers as His representatives, authorizing them to preach and bear witness to the kingdom of God. Notice that even though the kingdom has arrived in Jesus Christ, the response remains divided. Some see and understand Jesus, but to others, the kingdom is hidden. As God’s Son, Jesus has been entrusted to reveal God the Father to some people and not to others.
Sometimes, Jesus answers questions with questions, surprising answers, or even perplexing parables. For example, the parable of the Good Samaritan (10:25–37) shows Jesus’ followers should show mercy even to those of despised ethnic or religious groups.
Martha and Mary both welcome Jesus as a guest, but Mary chooses to sit at Jesus’ feet rather than stay busy trying to serve Jesus like Martha. Mary’s response to Jesus is the right one.
Luke 11:1–28 Jesus teaches His followers how to pray with a model prayer. He also tells a parable about persistence which points to God’s fatherly kindness and care for His children. Finally, Jesus teaches His followers to pray that God’s kingdom would come. In the very next scene, we see that in some sense, Jesus’ kingdom rule has already come in Christ, though the full kingdom remains in the future.
Even as people witness Jesus’ authority over the demonic realm and the visible coming of God’s kingdom, the response is divided. Some are amazed, and some reject Jesus, claiming He works for Beelzebub, the ruler of demons. Jesus states clearly that in His person and work the rule and reign of God has arrived. After this, many more people begin following Him.
Notice Jesus says true blessing is not based on family relationships but on the obedient hearing of the Word of God (v. 28).
11:29–53 Jesus’ popularity increased among the Jews. Larger crowds followed him, but Jesus reminded them of the times in the Old Testament when those outside of Israel truly turned from sin and pagan idols to believe in the God of Israel, the God who was now present in Jesus. God has always had His eye on the nations, not just Israel. Adam’s sin affected all, so all peoples needed rescuing from the power and penalty of sin.
Dinner at a Pharisee’s house provides an occasion for rebuking religious hypocrisy. Jesus pronounces woes and warnings (see also Luke 6) on the religious leaders who do not live according to the values of God’s reign and rule. Instead, they focus on religious externals while ignoring the needs of the poor; what a horrible example of how God’s people are to live out kingdom values. From now on, Jesus will be in constant conflict with the Jewish scribes and Pharisees who are setting traps for him.
Luke 12:1–12 Following Jesus will be dangerous, but His followers should fear God, not people. Under the threat of suffering, they should remain faithful representatives of Jesus, the Son of Man, trusting the Holy Spirit to give them words to say when they are persecuted for being Jesus’ disciples.
12:13–48 This section contains various teachings about how to live as followers of Jesus under God’s reign:
- Greediness has no place in the kingdom of God because the good life does not consist in having or owning many things.
- Seek first the kingdom of God, which is in heaven and is eternal, rather than things that wear out and perish. Sell what you own and give generously to show that your heart and desires are set on heaven and not the things of the earth. (We see the followers of Jesus doing exactly this in Acts 2–5.)
- Be ready for Jesus to return a second time, because He will come unexpectedly, and because His second coming will bring judgment upon unbelievers (verses 35–48).
12:49–59 Followers of Jesus should expect a varied response to Him. Many crowds are following Jesus. Some recognize Him as Lord and Savior; others like to see miracles but don’t want to repent and follow Him. The religious experts are rejecting Jesus, so Jesus invites the crowds to make a right judgment about Him before it’s too late (12:54–59). In Luke 13, Jesus will state very clearly: Judgment is coming and “unless you repent, you will all perish as well.”
- David Platt - Why People Don't Make Disciples (7 min)
By David Platt. © 2015 Verge Network. http://www.vergenetwork.org. Used by permission.
2 And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’
In Acts 20:33-35, Paul says,
“I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” (Acts 20:33–35, ESV)
- Since the good life doesn’t consist of possessions, Christ-followers should hold those things lightly and be generous, willing to share. It is far better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
- Jesus has always been divisive, and so, as we identify with Jesus, some people will be attracted to Him and some will want nothing to do with either Him or us. So we identify with Jesus not to win friends and influence people but to be faithful followers, living in glad obedience to Him through the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Spend some time with a fellow disciple and talk about how you might be more generous to those in need. Then plan some specific steps to get in the habit of giving generously.
- Talk to a fellow disciple about how you might more effectively explain to people that God’s judgment is certain and that postponing repentance is a very bad idea. How can you clearly, directly, and kindly help people understand that ignoring warnings to turn from sin and believe in Jesus doesn’t make sense if Jesus is who He says He is? Who could you talk to this week?
- Write out a prayer of praise to lead your weekly group or family. If you’ve never written out a prayer before, read the thoughts below about prepared prayers. Then watch this 5-minute video on Praying the Bible to help you think about how to turn Scripture into prayer. [Spiritual Disciplines, Teaching Simply]
GENERALLY SPEAKING, TAKING TIME TO WRITE DOWN, OUTLINE, OR OTHERWISE PREPARE FOR PUBLIC PRAYERS IS A GOOD IDEA FOR THESE REASONS:
- Spontaneity does not guarantee sincerity just as preparation does not mean hypocrisy or a lack of genuine desire or godly motivation.
- Free (or spontaneous) prayers aren’t necessarily better. Instead, they often end up being a kind of “form prayer” that sounds the same every time. Perhaps time to prepare would prevent the repetition of such spontaneous form prayers.
- When we take time to prepare in advance, we can give careful, concentrated, prayerful, reverent, worshipful, and hopeful attention to who God is in His character and His goodness to us. We can consider our sins and also our real needs, not just those that are immediately urgent. We can jot down items for thanksgiving, and we can consider gospel work in other places. We can include Scripture as we find the disciples doing when they pray in Acts.
- We always want our prayers to remain tethered to God’s Word, especially when leading others in public prayer.
- When we prepare our prayers, we should prepare them prayerfully, so that we aim to communicate with God for others. That communication should be meaningful, heartfelt, sincere, clear, and full of faith.
- Preparing our prayers beforehand shouldn’t mean then reading those prayers to others. Reading isn’t the same as praying.
- When we lead in prayer, we’re speaking to God on behalf of others, so it seems wise to give extra attention to those prayers.
- When we lead others in prayer, we want them all to say “Amen” at the end of our prayers. This is their way to say, “May God make it happen!” We honor others by preparing thoughtful prayers.
- Leading in prayer functions as an informal lesson that teaches others how to pray. People listen and they learn how to pray from our example.
- Corporate singing is also a kind of prayer, as many hymns and songs are addressed to God. These songs are all prepared songs and hymns—and yet we sing them with joy, reverence, enthusiasm, and even sincerity. If singing prayers (songs) in corporate worship can be sincere and meaningful, it’s hard to see why prepared prayers cannot also be sincere.
- Preparing and even writing down our prayers ahead of time doesn’t have to be insincere. On the contrary, it may make them more edifying to us and others and thus more honoring to God.