The Gospel of Luke – January Blog Post
Just a quick note: the link below is overwhelmed with posts, many of which come from unknown sources. Please contact me directly if I have not responded to a post so I can answer or publish your comments. Thank you.
This past month we studied the Gospel of Luke as a family. It was unifying and gave us a profound view of the life of Jesus. My kids liked the stories. We wrestled with its’ message daily. When the “Star of Bethlehem” showed up in our wooded backyard it brought the Nativity account in Luke, chapter two to life. It created anticipation and caused us to “look up”. Suddenly technology was not the highest thing on our list. This was bigger, brighter, real.
When I did more in-depth research for the blog/ preaching, I realized I had missed things while “casually” reading. There are things we take for granted, those of us who have been saved a long time. One of the things is believing that Christians pray. That may range from just a pleasant thought all the way to prayers of Jesus where He calls out, yells a prayer or cries (Greek word Krazo). We casually tell everyone we will “keep them in prayer”. It is part of our normal dialogue and similar to the “How are you?” that well-meaning people ask without much thought.
In Luke, we see Jesus and others, praying. We expect that so we skim over it. When I went back to look at Jesus’ spiritual disciplines in this book it was unnerving – convicting. Did He have to pray? Did He need to pray? Would things not have changed if He had stopped? What if His friends told Him His prayers were hyper-spiritual? What would the Gospel of Luke look like –if Jesus had not prayed? Or if He had prayed in a perfunctory manner? Perfunctory – a warning word concerning spiritual rituals. Wouldn’t one prayer have been enough? Some think too many words negate prayer, citing babbling concerns. Today, should we still engage in more intense forms of intercession? Jesus retreated at times but did not stay in a prayer room, claiming He was an intercessor. He did not ignore the cries of those in trouble, spying on him in trees, waiting as they were crawling in pools, or walking along roads. Jesus was fully engaged and prayed. Luke shows us He was multi-tasking both important things–with His father.
Martin Luther once said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. So, prayer is part of our daily being. Thomas Watson said, “Prayer delights God’s ear; it melts His heart.” So, prayer affects the Father. Hudson Taylor preached, “it is possible to move men, through God, by prayer alone.” So, prayer affects men. Billy Graham once said, “To get nations back on their feet, we must first get down on our knees.” So, prayer affects nations. Jesus affected others; Jesus was EFFECTIVE. Mary knew the secret, the disciples saw the secret, Luke wrote about the secret. Shhh.
Jesus, when baptized (3:21) did not leave the “spiritual stuff” up to the pastor who dunked Him. It was not a one-way transaction or mere church event. He was praying to the Father when the Heavens opened up. Dialogue. It was important to their relationship and God responded. He prayed when He was alone (5:16 and 9:18), He prayed when in agony (22:41) and He prayed with His disciples (11:1). Paul tells us in Colossians 4:12 that Epaphras, a fellow servant “labored fervently for them in prayer”. This isn’t the type of prayer that is frequently seen in our culture. Before the pandemic it was rare. Perhaps God is teaching His church how to persevere? Perhaps pressing– in requires practice? Jesus labored in prayer for salvation, the world– before He labored in suffering on the cross. He lifted up effective, fervent prayers that we benefit from still today.
You know my next question; it haunts us in the silent moments when we wonder if the world could have been a sweeter place. The question pierces us when we wonder if our children would have gone a different route, our marriage risen to higher heights, if our impact could have been more lasting…. IF Jesus needed to pray for those around Him, those given to Him – how much more do we need to engage the Father in the arenas He has given to us? Will He come pray with us as we groan in prayer? Yes.
Will He lift us as we weep for the tribulation around us?
Will our prayers be heard by a loving Father and change take place?
Jesus, by example, taught us that in the book of Luke– but maybe we trivialize it because it is just part of our christianese language? Maybe we falsely believed that prayer was for Sunday school kids and those who could do nothing else. Shhh – Mary and the disciple’s knew Jesus’ secret to powerful living. He shares it in parable form throughout this Gospel.
Prayer in Luke –It appears to us to be just narrative – spiritual words on the pages of our Bibles. But what if it was prescriptive? What if that example was meant to be spiritual warfare training? What if we really are supposed to follow after Jesus and His example?
When my mom was dying of COPD in a local hospital I cried out to God for understanding, direction. It was the most painful season I’ve ever encountered. I was reminded of the verse in Luke 18:1 that records what Jesus said,
“Pray ALWAYS, NEVER give up.”
I clung to it, I rehearsed it, I repeated it and most of all I prayed it. I will never forget all the things that happened after that verse sparked hope in my heart. Read it in context. Memorize the parable – then get your nag on! Spiritual nagging in prayer before a righteous judge is effective.
Luke, named the bright one – the bringer of light, tells us that behind the scenes is a powerful Holy Spirit, intercepting, guiding, and empowering every action of Jesus. Then Luke points out the regular, formative, habits of the Lord and if we are not careful, we will minimize their importance. The truth is, that was the SOURCE of Jesus’ power and the reason the narrative turned out like it did – Jesus came to do Gods’ will and praying/obeying Him was foundational to His entire ministry. He sought… then He followed. He did not placate people. He did not follow societal norms or obligations. He sought God… then obeyed Him. You can not obey a God you are not listening to.
Luke the evangelist, Bishop, physician, historian, and patron of arts was a friend of not only Jesus but also His mother, Mary. Her insights and secrets are shared in Luke’s gospel and absent in the other gospels. Mama insight is valuable, and Luke understood the family system of Jesus. Luke shows us the humanitarian side of Jesus and those who served with Him. His gospel is the most descriptive and compassionate, describing a kingdom that impacted Jews and Gentiles with divine healing. Luke shows us how this suffering servant will change the Kingdom as we know it and become the King for the disenfranchised, poor, women and all those pushed back by the religious power brokers that honor themselves instead of lifting up others in community. Luke redefines the Kingdom (and its’ success) so we can come to know and love this new Sav ior.
Recently I wrote some things about inclusion that had been on my heart. It was scary to share and made me feel vulnerable. I was stating what I believed was a timely word –nothing personal to any specific individual(s). Several thousand people shared that blog post! That shocked me, but the comments/calls alerted me to the realization that women still feel marginalized even in Christian circles. Women were able to take that post and use it as a discussion starter. There needs to be feedback and better communication for people to identify their concerns without retribution. Instead of contrition and change, some have doubled down and increased their bias and disparaging comments. That is heartbreaking on many levels. I did not realize there was such a need for healing or that I had exposed a raw nerve. Please join me as we dialogue and pray for change. Light disperses darkness – pray for light.
The King is still in charge and I am confident that whether here or on that last day, God will bring justice, rewards and promises. Judgement begins at the house of God and the Kingdom Luke wrote about is vastly different than the modern political or church system. (This can apply to black/white, men/women, Democrat/Republican, rich/poor). The point is we need to be Christ-like in our inclusion, ministries, and discipleship. This is what Luke and Jesus told us the Father wanted to see in His kingdom.
Many are weary of the talk for change. I get that but this emphasis is not mine – Luke’s main focus was – prayer, inclusion (gentile, women, poor), the family and the lost.
That is how we will recognize when Jesus has shown up.
These are areas our country is struggling with today. We too await – a national leader, a hope for a reduction in crime and division, healing, unity. Are we waiting like Jesus waited? Praying. Are we waiting like those in the story of Luke waited? Looking for Jesus? Maybe Luke offers us tools, tools to once again “activate” this kingdom Jesus initiated. The lost will not be saved if we do not pray and follow Jesus to them. Jesus used women such as Mary, Joanna (a secular manager for Herod) and Susanna. That is a great evangelism plan. Jesus used Gentiles (insert mainliners, Pentecostals, Catholics, children, recovered folks, even a demoniac). His Kingdom is bigger than our mindsets and restrictions. That makes for sweet community. The poor, the disenfranchised, the sinners = all very welcome at the table of the King. Dr.Luke told us about the life of Jesus, His secret for living life and who to include in that life. Doctors write prescriptions to help us know how to get better. Ignoring their wisdom is to our own peril.
Our great physician (Jesus) made a house call when He came to the house of bread –Bethlehem. IF we slow down to read Luke, slow down to see the star, slow down to understand Epiphany, slow down to see Jesus’ spiritual discipline of prayer –we begin to see what God had in mind all along. Jesus knew what it took to win and against all odds, He won. It is certified in Hell and Heaven. A win that can never be overturned. Pretty awesome. Reading this book every day for a month is just scratching the surface. For medicine to take effect it must be the right patient (you), the right dose (full strength), the right route (He is the way) and the right time (Now is the day). Ask the Lord to help you study His word, ask the Lord how to pray, ask the Lord how to proceed. In 2021 remember to ALWAYS pray and NEVER give up. In Luke’s day– it took ONE to make a difference. Be that ONE (you know the secret) in 2021.
Praying for you and with you,