Prayer and the Spirit: Part 3

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Text: Eph1:17; Lk. 10:21-23; 18:9-19:44

Ephesians 1:17(NIV) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Introduction: How is your spiritual eyesight? Do you need reading glasses?

  • Seeing Lk 19:35-44, a Palm Sunday text, in relationship with Eph. 1:17.
  • A Context for the Prayer: Eph. 1-3 has a cosmic focus on God’s work to reconcile & unite all things in Christ); 4-6 hasan interpersonal focus on the Spirit’s developing personal unity and integrity in us as communities of love and light in the world for God’s Glory.

Explore the Text

Paul Prays that We Experience the Personal, Illuminating Work of the Spirit

  • Ephesians 1:17—Paul prays that we would have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to work in us to know God better.
    • See John 17:3: as Jesus prays, he defines eternal life: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
    • See the prayer in Col. 1:9-14, especially vss. 9 and 10.
    • See the prayer about knowing and love in Eph 3: Love as a way of knowing. that is personal in its understanding (see Esther Meek, Loving to Know)
    • In 1 Corinthians 2:6-13–the Spirit reveals what would be hidden in God and would not be evident in terms of the wisdom of this age.
    • In 1 Corinthians 2:14-16–the person who does not have the Spirit of God working in them will not understand what God reveals but will consider those things foolish.
  • You are Invited: The Spirit will work with you so that you can grow in your relational-experiential knowledge of God.
    • This is different from knowing things about God.
      • There is a relationship between the two.
      • God reveals things about himself so that our thinking about him would be “right-thinking” or “justified-thinking”.
    • There is constant & relentless pressure, both from the larger culture and within the culture of contemporary popular Christianity, to adapt ideas about God to fit our age, time, tastes, and temperament.
      • The results are disastrous.
    • An Adventure: personal-relational knowing of the Divine Other.
      • Reading and hearing things about a person, being introduced to the person, the initial impressions of a person as a relationship begins when we often impose what we think the person is like, and the long process of discovering the real person in their depths.
      • Two examples of personal knowledge as a process: (1) Husband and wife stories of the first meeting, a first date, romance & marriage, and the realities of becoming a family. (2) Friendship stories of first conversations, initial shared experiences, difficult times & crisis moments that either break or strengthen a friendship.

Luke’s Case Study: Spiritual Seeing (hearing) and Knowing Jesus

  • Luke 10:21-23. Jesus, filled with joy through the Holy Spirit, explains to his disciples that our knowing the Father and the Son is made possible through God’s initiation and invitation.
  • Luke 18-19: A religious blindness that is unrecognized &
    • People who perceive Jesus & his Father in divergent ways.
      • Some see Jesus & receive/come closer; others do not see & resist/reject him.
    • We often say that it doesn’t matter because our culture tells us that religious truth is private, personal, and relative.
      • The evidence of these stories challenges that deep cultural assumption.
  • On the way with Jesus to Jerusalem and Palm Sunday.
    • Luke provides numerous samples as the journey to Jerusalem comes to its climax and transitions into the week that leads the reader to the cross.
    • In 18:9-14: A Pharisee and a Tax Collector—The Pharisee is blind to himself and spiritually perceives the tax collector in a different way than Jesus does.
      • Notice that in Lk. 19, Zacchaeus is a tax collector who is looked down on by people but loved by Jesus.
    • In 18:15-17: The disciples do not see the children with Jesus’ eyes.
      • Jesus challenges their spiritual perception and then tells them that they must become like a child to enter the kingdom of God.
    • In 18:18-29: A rich and powerful man who lives a moral life has a problem trusting Jesus’ directions for entering and enjoying eternal life in this world.
      • The rich man cannot hear, see, or understand what Jesus is talking about.
    • In 18:31-34: The disciples fail to understand what Jesus means about the suffering and dying Messiah.
    • In 18:35-43: A physically blind man calls out to Jesus because he wants to see!
      • The people perceive the blind man as a nuisance and rebuke him.
      • Jesus invites the man to join him, asks what he desires, and grants him sight.
      • The man is also awakened: he immediately begins to follow Jesus as a disciple.
    • In 19:1-10: Jesus encounters Zacchaeus, who is trying to see Jesus.
      • The crowd is shocked that Jesus seeks Zacchaeus and goes home with him to share a meal.
      • Like the tax collector and the blind man in Luke 18, and unlike the rich ruler, Zacchaeus grows closer to Jesus and is transformed!
    • In 19:11-27: Jesus tells a parable about a man of noble birth who goes to a distant country to be appointed king of his area and his “subjects” who reject him.
      • Ten servants are given work to do in his absence.
      • There are also citizens (subjects who hate the man) who send a delegation after him to make clear that they do not want this man to be their king.
      • The parable ends with harsh consequences pronounced when he deals with those who are his enemies and reject his rule as their new king.
    • In 19:28-44: Jesus Arrives in Jerusalem on “Palm Sunday”.
      • As Jesus entered Jerusalem, those gathered had ideas about the kind of king they want. They rely on that idea to think about Jesus.
      • The king enters Jerusalem with a great welcome, but he is soon rejected because his kingdom is not what they expect.
        • A crowd of disciples sees Jesus as a messiah-like David coming to the rescue.
        • Jewish officials are offended by Jesus’ enthusiastic disciples.
        • Jesus does not share or agree with either spiritual perspective of who he is!
      • Jesus, the unexpected king who will be enthroned on the cross, weeps over Jerusalem because the people do not perceive who he is and receive him.
        • They do not see who would bring them true peace (9:42). They do not recognize the time of God’s coming to them. (9:44).
        • The consequences will be the devastation and destruction of the temple and Jerusalem by Rome.
      • In 19:45-48: Jesus enters the temple that eventually will be destroyed and pronounces a judgment on what is going on in his house!
        • He meets growing resistance and rejection by the religious leaders.

Conclusion: Becoming an answer to Paul’s Prayer—offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1-2)

  • Are you willing to work with the Spirit to know the Father as revealed in the person of Jesus?
  • Like Zacchaeus, you are invited to go home and be with Jesus, but you must choose to become an agent involved in the answer to this prayer.

Notes

The Prayer of Paul in Colossians 1:9-14 (NIV)

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you,

we have not stopped praying for you.

We continually ask God

to fill you with the knowledge of his will

through all the wisdom and understanding

that the Spirit gives,

10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord

and please him in every way:

bearing fruit in every good work,

growing in the knowledge of God,

11 being strengthened with all power

according to his glorious might

so that you may have

great endurance and patience,

12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father,

who has qualified you

to share in the inheritance of his holy people

in the kingdom of light.

13 For he has rescued us

from the dominion of darkness

and brought us

into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

14 in whom we have redemption,

the forgiveness of sins.