Christmas to Calvary — December 11


How to Pray

And it happened that while he was in a certain place praying, when he stopped a certain one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say,

‘Father,
may your name be treated as holy.
May your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation.’”

Ask, Seek, Knock

And he said to them, “Who of you will have a friend, and will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine has come to me on a journey, and I do not have anything to set before him.’ And that one will answer from inside and say, ‘Do not cause me trouble! The door has already been shut and my children are with me in bed! I am not able to get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, even if he does not give him anything after he gets up because he is his friend, at any rate because of his impudence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

“And I tell you, ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. But what father from among you, if his son will ask for a fish, instead of a fish will give him a snake? Or also, if he will ask for an egg, will give him a scorpion? Therefore if you, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father from heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

A House Divided Cannot Stand

And he was expelling a mute demon. Now it happened that when the demon came out, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were astonished. But some of them said, “By Beelzebul the ruler of demons he expels demons!” And others, in order to test him, were demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. So if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I expel demons by Beelzebul. But if I expel demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons expel them? For this reason they will be your judges! But if I expel demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you! When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his possessions are safe. But when a stronger man attacks him and conquers him, he takes away his full armor in which he trusted and distributes his plunder. The one who is not with me is against me, and the one who does not gather with me scatters.

An Unclean Spirit Returns

“Whenever an unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it travels through waterless places searching for rest, and does not find it. It says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came out.’ And when it arrives it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there. And the last state of that person becomes worse than the first!”

Now it happened that as he said these things, a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and follow it!”

The Sign of Jonah

And as the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation! It demands a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah! For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the south will rise up at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here!

Light and Darkness

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel basket, but on a lampstand, so that those who come in can see the light. Your eye is the lamp of the body. When your eye is sincere, your whole body is full of light also. But when it is evil, your body is dark also. Therefore pay careful attention that the light in you is not darkness! If therefore your whole body is full of light, not having any part dark, it will be completely full of light, as when the lamp with its light gives light to you.”

Pharisees and Legal Experts Denounced

And as he was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to have a meal with him, and he went in and reclined at table. And the Pharisee, when he saw it, was astonished that he did not first wash before the meal. But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but your inside is full of greediness and wickedness. Fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give as charitable giving the things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

“But woe to you, Pharisees, because you pay a tenth of mint and rue and every garden herb, and neglect justice and love for God! But it was necessary to do these things without neglecting those things also. Woe to you, Pharisees, because you love the best seat in the synagogues and the greetings in the marketplaces! Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, and the people who walk over them do not know it!”

And one of the legal experts answered and said to him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also!” So he said, “Woe to you also, legal experts, because you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers! Woe to you, because you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them! As a result you are witnesses, and you approve of the deeds of your fathers, because they killed them and you build their tombs! For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets that has been shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation! Woe to you, legal experts, because you have taken away the key to knowledge! You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering!”

And when he departed from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be terribly hostile, and to question him closely about many things, plotting to catch him with reference to something he might say.

Questions for Reflection:

  • How can Jesus’ teaching about prayer help you abide at His feet?

  • Do you think there’s only one way to God? Why or why not? How would you respond to someone who believes that all roads lead to God?

  • What is the relationship between spiritual light and God’s Word?

  • Jesus claims the Old Testament is about Him. Is that an exclusive claim? How can we know it is true?

Live-the-Word Challenge:

Send a letter, card, or text message to someone who could use some encouragement. For some, the Christmas season is a dark time. Shine some Christ-like light in someone’s direction through this simple act.

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