Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ask for needs, seek forgiveness and knock on the door of justice

Luke 11:9-20
9 “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for[e] a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 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[f] to those who ask him!”
Jesus and Beelzebul
14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” 16 Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. 18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? —for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. 19 Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists[g] cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you will find and knock and the door will be opened for you. This was a clear exhortation from Jesus to those who were listening to and arguing with him. On the one hand it suggests persistence and perseverance. Never let go and keep persisting with God till God relents and gives us what we want. But on the other hand it also talks about believing that God as a parent will never forsake us. The relationship God has with human beings is so special that our needs will always be taken care of.

When Jesus’ disciples ask him on how they should pray, his prayer guideline include three prominent things. One, give us each day our daily bread, two, forgive our sins as we forgive others and three, do not bring us to the time of trial. All three resonate ask and it shall be given, seek and you will find and knock and the door will be opened for you.

We are guided to ask for our basic needs which may change from time to time but which are limited to the needs that a lot of people can get and should not be limited to a few. The prayer is also a community prayer and therefore how can there be poor and rich in the same community? All get together and pray to God and therefore any disproportion should be rectified. God gives a clear path to ask and everyone who asks will be answered and there is no question about that.

Forgive our sins as we forgive others goes along with seek and you will find. Seeking is not just wandering, researching and looking but seeking also becomes seeking and searching for forgiveness from those who we have wronged. Forgiveness is a two way process of forgiving others and seeking forgiveness from others. Jesus leads us to this narrow but bright path of seeking and finding.

Do not bring us to trial and knock and the door will be opened to you is the final part of Jesus’ framework. Our hesitation to knock is not just because we are suspicious and unsure about what God will do but because we are guilt ridden of what we have done. The step taken back along with the prayer to not bring us to trial is converted by Jesus into a step taken forward and knocking on the door which will be opened for us. The imagery is wonderful. Even as we see sections 11:3-4 and 11:9-10 as different, there is a great spiritual bridge which links them together.

Luke 9:11-20 provides a great framework for Christian life. Jesus reminds everyone of the real meaning of ask, seek and knock. Ask for needs, seek forgiveness and knock on the door knowing fully well that we have rectified our wrongs. The beauty of the writer’s explanation of Jesus and God is given a true expression when the mute man speaks. Jesus’ message is so powerful that the man who remained silent is exorcised of his demons and knocks on the door of justice. This unsettles the others. They have no where to go and they immediately accuse Jesus of being the ruler of the demons. This is a classic example of how people accuse us of vague things when they know that we are nearing in on the truth.

The setting is one of euphoria on the one side and fear on the other. Jesus and the man are talking the truth. On the other hand the people are scared of the truth and false accusations are all they know to make. Jesus is not shaken by this and shows them the senselessness of what they have just said. Instead of asking for what is rightfully theirs, seeking forgiveness for what they have done and knocking on the door for absolution, they justify their acts by coming up with an absurd accusation.

The church is also filled with such examples. People who are truly close to God have the experience of asking, seeking and knocking. But this Godly experience is made difficult for them by those who refuse to accept the societal justice and truth of God. Church then becomes a place where we struggle for justice and ask, seek and knock. Jesus assures us that God will never forsake us and will love us more than a father and a mother. Whenever we are silenced by those who usurp power and practise injustice, we should be assured that God will open our mouths against injustice and answer our prayers. Amen.

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