Read Luke 11:5-13
Are we an earthly being formed of the very humus to which we will one day return?
Are we a spiritual being that only transits the time and space of this age?
Are we from the earth or of the Spirit? Yes.
God formed Adam out of the dust and breathed life into him. He breathed his neshamah (nesh-aw-maw')—his spirit into him and only then did he become a living being.
Jesus talked with Nicodemus about the flesh and the Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of Spirit is spirit.
Paul wrote that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. The perishable cannot inherit the imperishable.
So how did we get from needing bread in the middle of the night to flesh and the spirit? Through a parable, some count this pericope as two parables; that’s how we got here.
Imagine awakening in the middle of the night to knocking at your door. You recognize the voice. Even though you recognize the voice you still say to yourself, or perhaps out loud, “Just who in their right mind would be knocking on my door at zero dark thirty?”
You talk through the door and discover that a long lost friend had dropped in on one of your friends. Did you have some lunch meat, a microwave dinner or two, or even some Pizza Rolls would be fine.
Your still half-asleep mind repeats, “You’ve got to be kidding me! This town really needs a Denny's.”
“You are really not over here in the middle of the night asking for food, are you? Are you?”
But that is surely a rhetorical question as this zero dark thirty conversation is no dream. So what do you do?
As much as you didn’t want to drag yourself out of bed, you have. As much as you want to tell your friend to hit the road, you can’t. As much as you wish you had a drive through window to just slide your buddy a six pack of Ramen, you don’t, so you let your friend in and search though the fridge, get him a couple partial loaves of bread, some cold cuts, a tomato that you had been saving for a BLT, and you remembered that you did have a big bag of Pizza Rolls in the deep freeze, and send him away with more than he asked for—that’s what you do.
Then, of course, since you are awake now, you post it all to Facebook.
Only a friend would have such audacity to come to you at zero dark thirty. You know that you are not going right back to sleep. You know that with a house full of kids you are always two years or more behind on your sleep and this morning’s food search for a friend will only add to that deficit. Such audacity for a friend to come to you in the middle of the night—that will keep you up another hour or so just thinking about it..
But that’s what he needed. That’s what your friend needed.
Jesus then moves from parable to practice. This will be in a little different verb from that you might have learned it, but consider our Lord’s guidance to us.
So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Again, Jesus has taken this quality of persistence that we visited with the Parable of the Persistent Widow—and extended it to other areas of our lives. If we continue to ask, it will be given. Really?
If we keep seeking, we will find what we are looking for? If we continue to knock, the door will be open unto us? That sounds like everything is in our control. If we keep after it then we will get what we want. Is that the message?
I related this parable in modern terms—adjusting the time a couple hours because we seem to stay up later in this post-modern era—and did it from the perspective of the friend who was awakened in the middle of the night. What if, as in the original telling, you were the one knocking on the door in need of a little food?
How did you bring yourself to wake up someone at such an unreasonable hour? The answer is that the person whose sleep you have so rudely interrupted is a friend. He or she is a friend. This relationship is already in effect.
The story doesn’t read that you went to a stranger’s house and started knocking and asking for food at 2:47 a.m.; at least that’s the way it might read in the police blotter. If you do this in this part of the country, you will likely hear a round being chambered in a 12 gauge or someone saying, “I’m calling 9-1-1.”
Someone who is not a friend might answer the door with a glazed look in his eyes and the smell of whacky weed knocking you back a couple feet.
The story said that which one of you shall have a friend and go to him at midnight. The key word here is not midnight but friend. It doesn’t matter which side of the door you might be on—the knocking side or the suddenly awakened side—the governing word here is friend.
You will ask things of friends that your reasonable mind would tell you not to ask of anyone else. And your friends will give things to you that they might balk at giving to anyone else.
You can be audacious. You are a little bolder. You might just persist a little more with your friends.
Jesus continued in his teaching with some rhetorical questions. If you son asked you for some bread, would you give him rock instead?
If he asked you for a fish, would you surprise him with a live snake on this plate? And don’t say, “It tastes like chicken.”
Mom, if your kids asked you to scramble some eggs, would you serve them plates of scorpions? If you have kids who are teenagers now, you are exempt from answering that question.
We who try to be good parents but sometimes let our anger or frustration or just that generally overwhelmed feeling get to us when we deal with our kids—we still know how to give good things to those that we brought into this world. We want to give them good things.
Baseball gloves and bicycles and dolls and trucks and good meals and even pizza or pizza rolls all seem to make their way to those little darlings even when they have truly tested our patience and burst our budget. We know how to give good things to our kids.
We give to our friends. We give to our kids. We who are still imperfect at least know how to give to friends and family. We have figured some stuff out. But what is it that we give?
Food, money, stuff, and sometimes help and instruction and counsel are all on the list. Sometimes the list grows to smart phones and cars and car insurance. We like to give good gifts.
So does our Father in heaven. He likes to give us good things. If we seek his kingdom and his righteousness before anything else in the world, he gives us so many tangible things that the ungodly have made into their gods. He meets our needs. When we strive to follow him, he goes beyond what we need. We know abundance.
James tells us that every good gift is from above. Let’s get back to Luke and what Jesus is specifically promising those who continue to seek God.
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
Yes, God will provision us with our daily rations. Remember that the daily ration in the desert was Manna but it was an all you can eat affair with no leftovers or doggie bags save on the Sabbath preparation day. He will make a way for us to not only survive but navigate this world with the tangible things that we need.
God will take away things that we don’t need if we will ask him. Worry, anxiousness, bitterness, covetousness, and so many other things that detract from our abundance he will simply remove from our gotta do or gotta have lists if we will seek the life that he has for us and be persistent about it, not just on occasion say, “I’ll give God’s way a try this once.”
But more than the things that our hearts desire now—things that so often occupy most of our prayer requests—God will grant us his Spirit. God wants his Holy Spirit to live inside of us more and more each day.
He wants us to stop asking for the things of this world and seek the things of his kingdom. He wants us to believe him that if we seek him and his kingdom and his righteousness first—at the center of everything else in our lives—the things of this world that we must have in our lives will be given.
So many people have this upside down. They say, “When I get my life together, then I will seek God.”
When I can pay all of my bills…
When the kids get out of school…
When I get a better job…
When I get everything in this world sorted out, then I can think about living for God…
Jesus tells us that God wants to live inside of us now so that he can give us the things that we need the most, not the things that our selfish nature craves, but the good life that God made us to live. In the course of this good life, we get a lot of those things that the self-centered person craves but they are just frosting on the cake for us.
Flesh seeks fleshly things—bread, money, cars, a good movie and popcorn on a Friday night. That’s our nature. Humankind after all, was made from the earth. We need physical things.
But we are also of the Spirit. God breathed life into humankind. We are not just from the dust of the earth. We have a spirit within us and God desires so much for his Spirit to live more and more abundantly inside of us.
What’s it like to give ourselves totally to God’s own Spirit? Jesus when he finished talking to a woman at a well in Sychar, Samaria was met by his disciples who offered him something to eat. That’s why they had gone into town. Jesus told them that he had food that they knew nothing about.
What? The disciples were still thinking of carnal needs. Did Jesus have a couple loaves of bread tucked away somewhere. Did he get delivery?
Jesus told them and he tells us that his food is to do the will of the One who sent him. His food is to finish the work given to him by his Father in heaven. His sustainment is living his purpose.
That’s more filling that bread or pizza rolls. Jesus did eat the food of this world. He dined with Pharisees and with sinners. He ate with his own disciples. He did fast for 40 days in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry that would conclude on the cross. For most of this three-year period, he ate much like those who live all around him.
He ate regular food but he had food that was so much better than bread or wine or even a lamb roasted for Passover. He had the food of purpose. He lived to fulfill the will of his Father.
That is the gift that God so wants to give us. He wants to fill us with his Spirit. He wants to take away our selfish cravings. So that:
We when ask our Father in heaven for something, it will be exactly what he wants to give us.
When we seek after something, it will be exactly what the Spirit has led us to desire.
When we knock, we will be knocking on the door that God has longed so much to open unto us.
The disciples did not yet know the Holy Spirit as they would later. The day of Pentecost was still something to come for them and it would change their lives more than they could have ever imagined.
God’s own Spirit has always been available to us. When we professed our faith in Jesus Christ, knowing in our hearts that God not only sent him as an atoning sacrifice but raised him from the dead, the Spirit came to be a part of us.
We became more than clay vessels. We have more than the human spirit that God breathed into humankind and makes us a living being. We now have God’s own Spirit alive within us. The Holy Spirit lives within us.
The answer to most of our prayers already lives within us. God’s own Spirit is not in some faraway place but is dwelling within this temple that we call our bodies and that Spirit has made this a holy temple.
We know that Jesus intercedes for us with the Father in heaven, but how often do we forget that God’s own Spirit is within us?
If a friend knocks on your door in the middle of the night asking for bread, you will give it to him. If you do the same to him, he will give you bread as well. How could anyone deny such audaciousness from a friend?
When we come to God asking and seeking and knocking in lives governed by his Holy Spirit that lives within us and not by selfish desires; how could he not give us what we ask for?
Think of the absurd things that we do for our friends and family—that defy reason sometimes but that we are compelled to do because they are our friends or family.
Now imagine how much more your Father in heaven wants to give you the very things that his own Spirit is leading us to ask for, or prompting us to seek, or showing us a door to knock on that we have walked by so many times.
Before Jesus would go to the cross and finish the work that he had been sent to do, he told his disciples that he was leaving them, at least for a time. Knowing their worry and anxiety and that they would scatter as the scriptures promised, Jesus promised that he would not orphan them. He would go and the Holy Spirit would come.
Jesus even promised these few very nervous men that they would do very great things. With God’s own Spirit with them, they surely did.
We have not lived a single day since professing Christ when God’s own Spirit has not been with us and within us. But how many days do we just forget about this?
How many trials do we withstand forgetting that God’s own Spirit is within us?
How many times do we pray and feel like God is so far away and doesn’t understand?
How many days do we feel like we are in this struggle all by ourselves?
I don’t know what your answers are, but I would like you to put zeros by all of these questions going forward. From now until the end of the age…
How many trials do we withstand forgetting that God’s own Spirit is within us? 0
How many times do we pray and feel like God is so far away and doesn’t understand? 0
How many days do we feel like we are in this struggle all by ourselves? 0
So many of our prayers are already answered by the fact that God lives within us now. He is available to us now. He is leading us to ask and seek and knock exactly where we need to now.
Let us not live just knowing that God’s Spirit is alive within us. Let us live Spirit filled lives that desire to do the will of the Father so much that some days, we might not need bread or money or even pizza rolls.
Let us be so governed by the Holy Spirit that God will grant our every request because the things we ask for are exactly the things he was been waiting to give us.
Thanks be to God that his Spirit lives so abundantly within us. Amen!