WEEK TWO, DAY FOUR, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK TWO THEME: PRAYER
DAY FOUR THEME: CONFIDENCE IN PRAYER
SCRIPTURE: LUKE 6:12-29
SCRIPTURE SNIPPET: “During that time, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night long. At daybreak, he called together his disciples. He chose twelve of them… whom he called apostles…
…..A great company of his disciples and a huge crowd of people from all around Judea and Jerusalem and the area around Tyre and Sidon joined him there……
…..The whole crowd wanted to touch him, because power was going out from him and he was healing everyone. Jesus raised his eyes to his disciples and said: ‘Happy are you who are poor, because God’s kingdom is yours. Happy are you who hunger now, because you will be satisfied. Happy are you who weep now, because you will laugh. Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and condemn your name as evil because of the Human One. Rejoice when that happens! Leap for joy because you have a great reward in heaven.”
PONDERINGS: Jesus has a big decision to make. It is time to select his twelve disciples – those who are capable of carrying forward the work he is beginning. There is a larger crowd of disciples – multitudes, but he needs twelve who will become apostles and carry forth the good news beyond Jesus’ time on earth. Jesus spends all night praying over this big decision spending time with the Father to know for sure who to select. Or had he already decided who he was going to select and he spent the whole night praying for them – for their faith to be made stronger with all that was to come and their courage to carry forward? Either way, Jesus knows the importance of this decision and spends time with His Father working through all that was on his heart and mind in training them and preparing for the future.
Jesus’ use of prayer here strikes a chord for all those times I am so consumed with an issue that sleep simply won’t come. Whether the concern is personal or financial or for others, there have been times when I just need to spend that time focused in the quiet of night to pray. It’s not about the words in that moment, it is about the focus, as well as the release of all of it to God. I feel that if I just speak the situation Godward I am able to intentionally put it into his hands. The anxiety I had felt previously fades and relaxes and the peace comes, and so does the sleep once it has been released! Such a blessing – I may pick it back up in the daytime, and then have to release it all over again, but God is patient and able to help me each and every time!
In today’s scripture, the morning comes, and the multitudes are gathered again around Jesus – many wanting healing or exorcism or provision. Everyone wanted to receive from Jesus, just touch him and feel his power take over in their lives. Their lives have become a burden and they just want to be able to lay the burdens down and be free again. There is so much of life to be enjoyed, but that seems impossible under the pressure of the burdens – whatever they may be.
Jesus seems heavy in his demeanor with them. Rather than perform their healings and meet their needs in that moment, he launches beyond that. After announcing his selection of his apostles, and then addresses them all almost in riddles. We call these sayings of Jesus at this time the Beatitudes….BE ATTITUDES… The multitudes want freedom from their burdens and know he can make that happen. Jesus understands that burdens are part of living this earthly life and he wants to instill peace in the midst of burdens. The Beatitudes are a great refocusing for us all in the midst of our trials.
In this specific moment twelve persons must feel expecially special for having been chosen by Jesus to be his apostles. They must have a certain feeling of satisfaction and joy at what this must mean. But Jesus knows that the path ahead is difficult and won’t make a lot of sense a lot of the time. For these twelve there will be imprisonments, misunderstandings, hard times; but the rewards of this perserverant work will be beyond words. So at this occasion, Jesus takes time to help them prepare for all that is to come and to help those who have come for healing and release to know a deeper work of God.
As we are able to see our life stresses – poverty, hunger, grief, rejection, etc. – as opportunites for growth and endure them in faith and trust in God – the source of our happiness, our true joy – we are ever more able to approach all our next stresses with less and less anxiety, waiting patiently to see what God will do with this thing. It is a peaceful cycling up in our faith walk that helps us overcome our earthly walk.
Jesus knows that every person that has been healed thus far from their experience with him will have other life stresses come up. When Lazarus was raised from the dead it was a wonderful occasion – miraculous, unbelievable in every way, but for Lazarus there would come a time again when he would physically die. His resurrection back to his earthly life did not erase the fact that we all die from this life in favor of the next. Jesus, at this otherwise seemingly exciting time is giving us a grip on the realities of life. We can embrace God’s work in our lives or we can rant and rave and focus on what we need as entitled spoiled children.
Every day of our life we have a choice of whether or not we will be grateful children, well aware of all that God has done – because we have paid attention – or we will always be reaching for illusive happiness that cannot be found in this life because our focus is cloudy. God never leaves nor forsakes us – that is enough. Thanks be to God!