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Jesus Teaches about Prayer

11 One day, as Jesus was in prayer, one of his disciples came over to him as he finished and said, “Would you teach us a model prayer that we can pray, just as John did for his disciples?”

So Jesus taught them this prayer: “Our heavenly Father,[a] may the glory of your name be the center on which our life turns.[b] May your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us.[c] Manifest your kingdom on earth. And give us our needed bread for the coming day.[d] Forgive our sins as we ourselves release forgiveness to those who have wronged us. And rescue us every time we face tribulations.”[e]

Then Jesus gave this illustration: “Imagine what would happen if you were to go to one of your friends in the middle of the night, pound on his door, and shout, ‘Please! Do you have some food you can spare? A friend just arrived at my house unexpectedly and I have nothing to serve him.’[f] But your friend says, ‘Why are you bothering me? The door is locked and my family and I are all in bed. Do you expect me to get up and give you our food?’ I tell you—because of your shameless persistence, even though it’s the middle of the night, your friend will get up out of his bed and give you all that you need. 9–10 So it is with your prayers. Ask and you’ll receive. Seek and you’ll discover. Knock on heaven’s door, and it will one day open for you. Every persistent person will receive what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he needs. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.

11 “Let me ask you this: Do you know of any father who would give his son a snake on a plate when he asked for a serving of fish?[g] Of course not! 12 Do you know of any father who would give his daughter a spider when she had asked for an egg? Of course not! 13 If imperfect parents know how to lovingly take care of their children and give them what they need, how much more will the perfect heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit’s fullness when his children ask him.”

Jesus Responds to Controversy

14 One day a crowd gathered around Jesus, and among them was a man who was mute. Jesus drove out of the man the spirit that made him unable to speak. When the demon left him, the mute man’s tongue was loosed and immediately he was able to speak. The stunned crowd saw it all and marveled in amazement over this miracle! 15 But there were some in the crowd who protested, saying, “He casts out demons by the power of Satan,[h] the demon king.” 16 Others were skeptical and tried to persuade Jesus to perform a spectacular display of power to prove that he was the Messiah.

17 Jesus, well aware of their every thought, said to them, “Every kingdom that is split against itself is doomed to fail and will eventually collapse. 18 If it is true that Satan casts out his own demons through me, how could his kingdom remain intact? 19 If Satan gives me the power to cast out his demons, who is it that gives your exorcists[i] their power? Let them become your judges! Go, ask them, and they will tell you. 20 But if I am casting out demons by God’s mighty power,[j] God’s kingdom is now released upon you—but you still reject it!

21 “When a strong man, with many weapons, guards his palace, his possessions are safe. 22 But when one stronger than he comes to attack and overpower him, the stronger one will empty the arsenal in which he trusted. The conqueror will ransack his kingdom and distribute all the spoils of victory. 23 Whoever is not on my side is against me, and whoever does not gather the spoils with me will be forever scattered.

24 “When a demon is cast out of a person, it goes to wander in a waterless realm, searching for rest. But finding no place to rest, it says, ‘I will go back and reoccupy the body I left.’ 25 When it returns, it finds the person like a house swept clean and made tidy, but empty.[k] 26 Then it goes and enlists seven demons more evil than itself, and they all enter and possess the person, leaving that one in a much worse state than before.”[l]

27 While he was saying all this, a woman shouted from the crowd, “God bless the one who gave you birth and nursed you as a child!”

28 “Yes,” said Jesus, “but God will bless all who listen to the word of God and carefully obey everything they hear.”

The Miracle Sign of Jonah the Prophet

29 As the crowds continued to swell, Jesus went on to say, “How evil is this generation! When you demand a mighty display of power simply to prove who I am, you demonstrate your unbelief. The only sign you will see will be a repeat of the miracle of Jonah. 30 In the same way Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation.[m]

31 “The Queen of Sheba[n] will rise up on the day of judgment to accuse and condemn this generation for its unbelief. She journeyed from a far and distant land just to listen to the wisdom of King Solomon. One greater than Solomon speaks with you today, but you refuse to listen. 32 Yes, the people of Nineveh will also rise up on the day of judgment to accuse and condemn this generation.[o] For they all repented when they heard the preaching of Jonah, but you refuse to repent. Yet there is one greater than Jonah who is preaching to you today.”

Revelation-Light

33 “No one would think of lighting a lamp and then hiding it in the basement where no one would benefit. A lamp belongs on a lampstand, where all who enter may see its light. 34 The eyes of your spirit allow revelation-light[p] to enter into your being. When your heart is open the light floods in.[q] But when your heart is hard and closed, the light cannot penetrate and darkness takes its place. 35 Open your heart and consider my words. Watch out that you do not mistake your opinions for revelation-light! 36 If your spirit burns with light, fully illuminated with no trace of darkness, you will be a shining lamp, reflecting rays of truth by the way you live.”

Jesus Warns Hypocrites

37–38 After Jesus finished saying these things, a Pharisee asked him to come for a meal at his home. When everyone had been seated at the table, the religious leader noticed that Jesus had not performed the cleansing ritual[r] before he began eating. He was shocked.

39 The Lord said, “You Pharisees are like those who will wipe clean only the outside of a cup or bowl, leaving the inside filthy. 40 You are foolish to ignore the greed and wickedness within you! Shouldn’t the one who cleans the outside also clean the inside?[s] 41 If you free your heart of greed, show compassion and true generosity to the poor, you will have more than clean hands; you will be clean within.

42 “You Pharisees are hypocrites! For you are obsessed with peripheral issues, like paying meticulous tithes on the smallest herbs that grow in your gardens.[t] Of course, these matters you should do, but when you unjustly cheat others, you ignore the most important duty of all: to walk in the love of God.[u] Readjust your values and place first things first.

43 “You Pharisees are hypocrites! You love to be honored before others with titles of respect, seeking public recognition,[v] aspiring to seem more important than others.[w]

44 “You Pharisees, what hypocrites! Your true character is hidden, like an unmarked grave that hides the corruption inside, defiling all who come in contact with you.”[x]

45 Just then a specialist in interpreting religious law blurted out, “Teacher, don’t you realize that your words insult us?!”

46 Jesus responded, “You are also hypocrites, you experts of the law! You crush people beneath the burden of obeying impossible religious regulations, yet you would never even think of doing them yourselves.[y] 47 What hypocrites! You build monuments to honor the prophets of old, yet it was your murdering ancestors who killed them. The only prophet you’ll honor is a dead one! 48 In fact, by erecting monuments to the prophets your ancestors killed, you demonstrate your agreement with those murderers and bear witness to their deeds. You’re no better than they! 49 That is why God’s wisdom is proclaiming: ‘I will send to them apostles and prophets though some they will murder and others they will persecute.’

50 “God will hold this generation accountable for every drop of blood of every murdered prophet shed from the beginning of time until now, 51 from the blood of Abel, who was killed by his brother, to the blood of Zechariah,[z] who was murdered in the middle of the temple court. Yes, I tell you, you will be responsible for it all.

52 “You are nothing but hypocrites, you experts of religion! You take away from others the key that opens the door to the house of knowledge. Not only do you lock the door and refuse to enter, but you also do your best to keep others from the truth.”

53–54 All that Jesus said enraged the religious leaders and experts of the law and they began to oppose him furiously. They harassed Jesus all the way out the door, spewing out their hostility, arguing over everything he said—wanting nothing more than to find a reason to entrap him with his own words.

Footnotes

  1. 11:2 Some Greek manuscripts read simply “Father.” The Aramaic is Abba.
  2. 11:2 An alternate reading of the Aramaic text. The Aramaic word for “name” is shema (or the Hebrew word, shem), a word with multiple meanings. It can also be translated as “light,” “sound,” or “atmosphere.” Placing a light in an enclosed space, like a lantern, magnifies that light. This is the meaning here of God’s name being made sacred and magnified as we focus our lives on him.
  3. 11:2 Translated from some of the earliest Greek manuscripts.
  4. 11:3 This is more than asking for food, for Jesus has taught us not to worry about the needs of our body. It is the request for tomorrow’s living bread to come and feed us today.
  5. 11:4 Or “Do not let us enter into ordeals.”
  6. 11:6 In the culture of the day, it was important to honor every guest and provide a meal when they arrived.
  7. 11:11 Some manuscripts substitute the word “fish” with “loaf” (bread) and the word “snake” with “a stone.”
  8. 11:15 The word used here is Beelzelbul, which was an Aramaic word for “the prince of devils,” whom the Philistines worshiped. In Hebrew Beelzebub means “lord of the flies.”
  9. 11:19 Literally “your sons,” which is a figure of speech for their followers.
  10. 11:20 The text literally states “in the finger of God,” a Hebrew phrase denoting God’s power. See Ex. 8:19; 31:18.
  11. 11:25 Implied in the text is the truth that if a person is delivered from a demon but does not receive Christ and become filled with him, that individual’s condition can become even worse. True conversion fills a life with Christ and his Spirit.
  12. 11:26 Christ’s power is still available for all. Even Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast out of her. See Luke 8:2.
  13. 11:30 The Aramaic is “tribe.” See v. 31. The Ninevites were a different Semitic tribe from the Jews.
  14. 11:31 Literally “the queen of the south.” See 1 Kings 10:1–13. Sheba is modern-day Yemen.
  15. 11:32 The Aramaic is “tribe.” The Ninevites were of Semitic origin, and although they were pagans, after the preaching of one prophet they converted. The people of Israel had many prophets throughout their history, and the greatest prophet of all was now preaching to them, yet they refused to listen.
  16. 11:34 The teachings of Jesus are the “revelation-light” referred to here.
  17. 11:34 Or “The eye is like a lamp to your body.” The literal Greek text reads “Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is sick, your body is full of darkness.” The eye becomes a metaphor for spiritual perception. The body is our spirit. The lamp is Jesus’ teachings. The darkness is formed by the lies and opinions that blind us. These metaphors have been made explicit.
  18. 11:37–38 This was not required by the law of Moses, but was a rule imposed by the Pharisees.
  19. 11:40 Translated from the Aramaic text.
  20. 11:42 Literally “You pay tithes even on mint and dill and every other garden herb.”
  21. 11:42 See Micah 6:8.
  22. 11:43 Literally “greeted with respect in the marketplaces.”
  23. 11:43 The Aramaic text states, “You aspire to leadership of the synagogues.”
  24. 11:44 A strictly religious Jew was forbidden to touch a dead body or walk over a grave. It was common to whitewash the grave so no one would walk on it and be ceremonially defiled. Jesus taught that people who followed the example of the Pharisees would become morally unclean.
  25. 11:46 The Greek text is literally “You compel men to carry burdens that you yourselves do not touch.”
  26. 11:51 See 2 Chron. 24:21–22. Second Chronicles is the last book in the Hebrew order of the Old Testament. So the implied time frame is from Genesis throughout the period of the Old Testament.