Jesus Teaches about Prayer
1One 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 like John did for his disciples?”
2So Jesus taught them this prayer: “Our heavenly Father, may the glory of your name be the center on which our life turns. May your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us. Manifest your kingdom on earth. 3And give us our needed bread for the coming day. 4Forgive our sins as we ourselves release forgiveness to those who have wronged us. And rescue us every time we face tribulations.”
5Then Jesus gave this illustration: “Imagine what would happen if you were to go to one of your friends in the middle of the night and pound on his door and shout, ‘Please! Do you have some food you can spare? 6A friend just arrived at my house unexpectedly and I have nothing to serve him.’ 7But your friend says, ‘Why are you bothering me? The door’s locked and my family and I are all in bed. Do you expect me to get up and give you our food?’ 8But listen—because of your shameless impudence, 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. 9-10So 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 get 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? Of course not! 12Do you know of any father who would give his daughter a spider when she had asked for an egg? Of course not! 13If 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
14One day there was 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. Once the demon left him, the mute man’s tongue was loosed and he was able to speak again. The stunned crowd saw it all and marveled in amazement over this miracle!
15But there were some in the crowd who protested, saying, “He casts out demons by the power of Satan, the demon king.” 16Others were skeptical and tried to persuade Jesus to perform a spectacular display of power to prove that he was the Messiah.
17Jesus, well aware of their every thought, said to them, “Every kingdom that is split against itself is doomed to fail and will eventually collapse. 18If it is true that Satan casts out his own demons through me, how could his kingdom remain intact? 19If Satan gives me the power to cast out his demons, who is it that gives your exorcists their power? Let them become your judges! Go and ask them and they will tell you. 20Yet if I am casting out demons by God’s mighty power, God’s kingdom realm is now released upon you—but you still reject it!
21“Satan’s belongings are undisturbed as he stands guard over his fortress kingdom, strong and fully armed with an arsenal of many weapons. 22But 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. 23This is a war, and 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 the waterless realm, searching for rest. But finding no place to rest it says, ‘I will go back to the body of the one I left.’ 25When it returns, it finds the person like a house that has been swept clean and made tidy but is empty. 26Then it goes and enlists seven demons more evil than itself, and they all enter and possess the person, leaving that one with a much worse fate than before.”
27While 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
29As the crowds swelled even more, Jesus went on to say, “How evil is this generation! For when you demand a mighty display of power simply to prove who I am, you demonstrate your unbelief. The only sign given you will be a repeat of the miracle of Jonah. 30For 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.
31“The Queen of Sheba 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. There is one greater than Solomon speaking with you today, but you refuse to listen. 32Yes, the people of Nineveh will also rise up on the day of judgment to accuse and condemn this generation. 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.”
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. 34The eyes of your spirit allow revelation-light to enter into your being. When your heart is open the light floods in. When your heart is hard and closed, the light cannot penetrate and darkness takes its place. 35Open your heart and consider my words. Watch out that you do not mistake your opinions for revelation-light! 36If 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
37-38After Jesus finished saying this, a Jewish religious leader, one of the “separated ones,” asked him to come for a meal at his home. When everyone had been seated at the table, the religious leader noticed that Jesus hadn’t performed the cleansing ritual before he began eating. He was shocked.
39The Lord said, “You Pharisees are religiously strict to your customs and obsessed with the peripheral issues. You are like one who will wipe clean only the outside of a cup or bowl, leaving the inside filthy. 40You are foolish to ignore the greed and wickedness within you! Shouldn’t the one who cleans the outside also be concerned with cleaning the inside? 41If you free your heart of greed, showing compassion and true generosity to the poor, you have more than clean hands; you will be clean within.
42“You Pharisees are hopeless frauds! For you are obsessed with peripheral issues, like paying meticulous tithes on the smallest herbs that grow in your gardens. These matters you should do. Yet when you unjustly cheat others, you ignore the most important duty of all: to walk in the love of God. Readjust your values and place first things first.
43“You Pharisees are hopeless frauds! For you love to be honored before men with your titles of respect, seeking public recognition as you aspire to become important among others.
44“You Pharisees, what hopeless frauds! Your true character is hidden, like an unmarked grave that hides the corruption inside, defiling all who come in contact with you.”
45Just then a specialist in interpreting religious law blurted out, “But Teacher, don’t you realize that your words insult me and those of my profession? You’re being rude to us all!”
46Jesus responded, “Yes, and you are also hopeless frauds, you experts of the law! For you crush people beneath the burden of obeying impossible religious regulations, yet you would never even think of doing them yourselves. What hypocrites! 47What hopeless frauds! 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! 48In fact, by erecting monuments to the prophets they killed, you demonstrate your agreement with your murdering ancestors and bear witness to their deeds. You’re no better than they! 49That accounts for the wisdom of God, saying, ‘I will send to them apostles and prophets though some they will murder and others they will chase away.’
50“This generation will be held accountable for every drop of blood shed by every murdered prophet from the beginning of time until now, 51from the blood of Abel, who was killed by his brother, to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered in the middle of the temple court. Yes, the blood-guilt of all your ancestors will be laid before you in this generation.
52“You are nothing but hopeless frauds, 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, you do your best to keep others from the truth.”
53-54The religious leaders and experts of the law became enraged and began to furiously oppose him. 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.