Luke 11

The Word Made Fresh

1Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.”

2Jesus replied, “When you pray, say ‘Our Father in heaven, your name is sacred. May your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 3Give us our bread day by day, 4and forgive our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us. And do not bring us into trying times.”

5Then he told them, “If you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and ask him, ‘Please let me have three loaves of bread; 6a friend of mine has come and I have nothing to give him.’ 7But he answers behind closed doors, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked. The children are asleep. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8I’ll tell you this; he may not get up and give you anything because he’s a friend, but he will get up and give you whatever you need if you persist.

9“So, I say to you, ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10Everyone who asks receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. Everyone who knocks will have the door opened. 11Do you know anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 12Even those who are wicked know how to give good gifts to their children – won’t the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?”

14On another occasion Jesus was chasing away a demon that rendered a man unable to speak. When the demon was gone, the man spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15But some of them insisted, “He gets rid of demons through Beelzebul, who rules the demons.” 16And there were others who kept pestering him for a sign from heaven. 17But Jesus saw what they were up to and said, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, it will become desolate, and a divided household will fail. 18So, you say that I cast out Satan by Beelzebul, but if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom survive? 19If I cast out demons by Beelzebul, how do your people cast them out? Let them be your judges. 20But, if I get rid of demons by the finger of God, then God’s kingdom has come to you. 21When a fully armed strong man guards his castle, his belongings are secured. 22But if a stronger man attacks and overpowers him, the armor in which he trusted is worthless, and he is plundered. 23So, whoever is not with me is against me; and whoever does not gather with me, scatters.

24“When an unclean spirit leaves a man it wanders through a barren countryside looking for a place to rest. But when it doesn’t find a place it says, ‘I’ll go back to the house from which I came.’ 25When it arrives, it finds the house swept and in good order. 26So, it leaves, but then comes back with seven other spirits even more evil than itself, and they enter the house and take up residence there, and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.”

27While Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd called out to him, “Blessed is the womb that gave you birth and the breasts that nursed you.”

28Jesus responded, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”

29The crowds grew larger, and Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation; they ask for a sign, but the only sign given them is the sign of Jonah: 30Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, and the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation. 31The Queen of the South will arise with the people of this generation at the judgment, and she will condemn them because she came from a far corner of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, but something greater than Solomon is here! 32The people of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented when Jonah warned them, and something greater than Jonah is here!

33“You don’t light a lamp and then hide it somewhere. You put it on a lampstand so that everyone there can see by its light. 34Your eye is your body’s lamp. If your eye is in good health, your body will be filled with light; if not, your body is filled with darkness. 35So, if your whole body is filled with light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as if a lamp were shining within you.”

37While Jesus was teaching, a Pharisee invited him to dinner, so he went and settled in at the table. 38The Pharisee was surprised when Jesus didn’t wash before dining. 39The LORD said to him, “You Pharisees clean the outside of every cup and dish, but inside you there is greed and wickedness. 40You are fools; didn’t the one who made the outside make the inside, too? 41So, give the poor the items within, and everything will be clean for you.

42“Too bad for you Pharisees! You tithe mint and rue and various herbs, then neglect God’s justice and love. It is God’s justice and love you should emphasize, without neglecting the other things. 43Too bad for you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted and honored in the marketplace. 44Too bad for you, because you are like graves left unmarked, that people walk over without knowing it.”

45One of the experts in the law said, “Teacher, what you are saying insults us, too.”

46Jesus said, “Too bad for you lawyers as well! You load people down with burdens that are hard to carry, and you don’t lift a finger to help them. 47Too bad for you! You built the tombs for the prophets killed by your ancestors, 48which makes you a witness who approves of their deeds. You build their tombs even though they killed the prophets. 49So the wisdom of God says, ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, and they will kill some of them and persecute others.’ 50So, this generation can be accused of spilling the blood that was shed by all the prophets since the world was formed, 51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. That’s right – I’m telling you this generation is guilty. 52Woe to you legal experts! You have stolen the key to knowledge; you didn’t enter yourselves, and you’ve kept others from entering.”

53He went outside, but the scribes and Pharisees were very hostile towards him, and tried to cross-examine him about various subjects, 54wanting to catch him in something he might say.


1-4: This section of Luke has to do with the retraining of the Twelve in an effort to overcome their competitiveness and fascination with power. It is interesting that since their argument over which one was the greatest, Jesus has not performed a single miracle. Now we have a lesson on prayer. When we speak of the Lord’s Prayer we usually mean the more familiar and longer version of it recorded in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:9-13). We must admit that the version of the prayer recorded here is highly instructive for the Twelve, though. This is the first time since their mission journey and all the ensuing conflicts that the Twelve have asked Jesus to teach them anything, so this is a turning point of sorts in their education. The prayer Jesus teaches them here draws on selected events:

“Father in heaven…”
9:59 – “…wait until my father is dead and buried.”

“…your name is sacred.”
10:13 – “Even unclean spirits obey us when we use your name!”

“May your kingdom come.”
9:2 – “He sent them out to tell about God’s kingdom.”

“Give us our bread day by day.”
9:13 – “You give them something to eat.”

“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”
7:41“There was a banker who had two people in debt to him. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other owed him fifty. When they couldn’t pay him back, he forgave both of them.”
7:48“Jesus then said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’”
5:20 – “When Jesus saw this display of their faith, he said, ‘Sir, your sins are forgiven you.'”

“And do not bring us into trying times.”
4:13 – “When the temptations were over, the devil left Jesus and waited for another opportunity.”

The prayer thus serves as a primer of some of the key points of his teachings.

5-8: He follows the prayer with a story to illustrate the importance of persistence in prayer. Persistence counts even more than being God’s friend. Now, there’s an idea to ponder!

9-13: Ask, seek, knock. Be persistent. Don’t give up. Trust that God knows what you need and is willing to provide it — a sentiment that sounds just a little too much like pie in the sky by and by. But then Jesus puts out the qualifying phrase: what God has to give is the Holy Spirit. Pray fervently enough for any need, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

14-23: The Twelve are given another lesson when some people claim he is able to cast out demons only because he is in cahoots with the devil. Jesus neatly turns their charge against them, pointing out that the devil can’t survive if he’s fighting against his own. He says, “Some of you have been casting out demons, too. I’ll let them be your judges,” and flips their logic on its head when he tells them that if God is behind his healings God’s kingdom has obviously come near them. The devil (Beelzebub was a popular name for Satan) has been bested by someone stronger.

24-26: This is an odd observation that seems out of context. Maybe Jesus is simply warning the man that the demon he has just cast out of him will gather strength and come back and try to overpower him. Forewarned is forearmed.

27-28: A spontaneous exchange with an unknown woman in the crowd: obedience is high on the list of attributes of discipleship.

29-32: We can only imagine the growing pressure Jesus was under to perform. Whenever folks saw a miracle they insisted on seeing it again, or on seeing a bigger one. The Queen of the South is a reference to the Queen of Sheba, who came to see if the reports about Solomon were true. Jonah proclaimed God’s call to repentance at Nineveh. Jesus tells them that the things they are witnessing are greater than Solomon and greater than Jonah.

33-36: He is telling them that once they realize what they are seeing is greater than Solomon and Jonah, they will be filled with light, and they will be able to give light to others.

37-44: Jesus is again invited to dine at the home of a Pharisee (compare 7:36). On the last occasion Jesus was a model guest, more or less. Now, however, he immediately attacks the rigid legalism of the Pharisees, exposing their traditions for what they really were; carefully choreographed evasions of the Law. He calls them fools and pronounces curses on them for various deceptive practices.

45-52: A lawyer (scribe?) defends the Pharisees, and Jesus lights into him as well. You scribes, he says, never learned how to live as God’s people, and you have done all you can to keep others from doing so.

53-54: Enemies have been made, and the stage is set for Jesus to be arrested, tried, and executed.


Ask, seek, knock – three key activities of followers of Christ: ask for understanding, seek the LORD’s advice in every endeavor, and keep knocking on the door of prayer until God responds (but remember the three ways in which God responds to prayer: “yes”, “no”, and “wait”).