Luke 11:1-13 (Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 12—Series C)
“The Best Gift”
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT
July 28, 2019
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our text is the Gospel lesson recorded in Luke 11:
1And it happened that while He was praying in a certain place, when He stopped, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.” 2And He said to them, “When you pray, say, ‘Father, let your name be made holy; let your kingdom come; 3our bread for the coming day keep giving to us each day; 4and for us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who owes us; and do not cause us to be brought into temptation.’” 5And He said to them, “Which one of you will have a friend and will go to him in the middle of the night and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6since my friend has come to me from a journey and I do not have anything to set before him.’ 7And that one, answering from within, will say, ‘Stop causing me trouble. The door is already locked and my children are with me in bed. I am not able to get up to give you anything.’? 8I say to you, even if he will not get up and give to him on account of being his friend, indeed, on account of his boldness he will get up and will give to him as much as he needs. 9And I say to you, ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door with be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives and the one who seeks finds and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11Which father, from among you, will the son ask for a fish, and instead of a fish will give him a snake? 12Or again he will ask for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? 13So, if you, being evil, know to give good gifts to your children, how much more the Father from heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”
I’d like to take an informal poll this morning of the fathers and grandfathers here. If your child or grandchild asked for a fish, would you give her a snake? (Raise your hand.) If your child or grandchild asked for an egg, would you put a scorpion in his hand? So, you who are evil—by nature sinful and unclean—do know how to give good gifts to your children! My father certainly did. God bless him, if he knew that my brother or I wanted a certain toy, he would do whatever he could to get it for us, especially at Christmas time. He would literally, unknown to me at the time, go from store to store just to find that specific gift for us. I wonder how much time and money in gas he must have spent. As a father, I find myself doing the same for my kids. (Sorry, Mica, it’s an inherited trait from Dad!) If there is even the hint that my kids would like something, I admit, I try to get it for them as soon as I can. I like giving good gifts to my children because I love them.
But not all fathers give good gifts to their children. Not all mothers give good gifts to their children. Not all parents give good gifts to their children all the time. The sinful nature, even in Christians, pushes its way to the foreground of our lives. Since Jesus uses the example of fathers, I’ll stick with that, but keep in mind that mothers also fall into the realm of not always giving good gifts to their children. I ran across this letter posted on the website Odyssey, June 20, 2016:
Dear everyone struggling with daddy issues,
I get it. I understand. We are more than just a punchline from a joke made on TV, more than just the vulnerable boys and girls desperate for attention because we don’t get it from our dads. I understand what you are going through.
This past week leading up to Father’s Day, and Father’s Day itself have been really hard for me as I know they probably were for you. And not just this year for me, but for the past eight or so years. Everything during this time makes fathers out to be children’s superheroes and favorite people. Well newsflash, not every father is an amazing guy. The radio advertisements, the TV commercials, the stupid Instagram pictures thanking fathers who don’t even have Instas. . . I hate them all.
Sometimes people get offended when I say I don’t have a father. They get angry and tell me I have no right to say that. “Yes you do, you just don’t talk to him.” “Don’t say that, some people don’t have a father at all.” I will not apologize for saying I don’t have a father and you shouldn’t either. I may have a man existing in the same town as me, who has the same last name as me, and part of the same DNA, but that man is NOT my father.
This man left my life; the worst part was, it was his choice. He was my father for years, he loved me and taught me what any normal father would. Then when he and my mom split, he gave me up with the marriage. Who does that? Who would voluntarily leave their child? My “father” would, that’s who.
I haven’t had a real conversation with my dad in about six years. Any time we talk, he yells at me, and I am not even sure why. He calls me names, he tells me I’m immature, and he fights with me like I am the child he never wanted. He makes me feel stupid, he makes me feel worthless, and he makes me that angry/sad feeling when you’re so angry you just have to cry for a while. He makes me feel all of these things no father should ever make his child feel. But I’m lucky enough to have this horrible father somewhere around for Father’s Day.
I get told to just forgive him and move on. To just talk to him again. It is not that simple though, and you probably get it too. You don’t have to talk to him unless you want to. I’m sorry you have to go through this, but we children with horrible fathers have to stick together. It’s hard dealing with fathers during this time, and I understand what you’re going through. Superman is a fictional character, not my father. And Father’s Day is a pointless holiday to me.
A child struggling through Father’s Day
Fathers don’t always give good gifts to their children. Fathers lash out at their children in anger. They curse at them, hurt them emotionally and physically. Not all fathers provide for their children even the basics of life in food and clothes. Their priorities take precedence over the needs of their own children!
You and I haven’t always given good gifts to our kids either. We have sinned against them. We have put our needs and wants ahead of theirs, passing up the opportunity to play a board game with them in favor of doing the hobby of our choice. We’ve hurt them with our words and actions. May God cover us fathers (and mothers) in the blood of His Son and grant us forgiveness for our sins against our children, for God our heavenly Father is different from us earthly fathers.
Jesus said, “If you, being evil, know to give good gifts to your children, how much more the Father from heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” God is a Father who can be counted on, not only to give good gifts, but indeed, the best gift, the Holy Spirit.
“Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.” And Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say, ‘Father.’” Jesus invited His followers, who had already begun to look to God in trust and obedience, to regard Him as their Father and themselves as God’s children. It is God who first makes us His children through Jesus, His One-of-a-Kind Son. Galatians 3:26, “So you are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus” (Luther translation). Through the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior from sin and death, we are placed in a right relationship with God as our heavenly Father. Through faith in Jesus, we come to the Father as His dear children who have been cleansed from all sins, from death, and from the devil’s power because Jesus, the unique Son of God, died on the cross as the once-for-all sacrifice for our sins and our sinfulness.
Our failures to be the parents God calls us to be, our sins against our children, are all covered in the blood of Christ. You and I stand forgiven before our Father in heaven. As we are parents to our kids, God is Father to all of us through Jesus Christ. We have been adopted into the family of the heavenly Father (Gal. 4:4). We read in Romans 8, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Rom. 8:15 ESV).
We know God as “Father” whose goodness far exceeds that of human fathers. His gift to us is far superior to any gift we can give to our children. Human parents give “good gifts,” but the Lord gives what He has determined to be the best gift, the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, is His gift to us which enables us to be made children of God. It is God the Holy Spirit who comes to us and dwells in us, making our bodies His temple (1 Cor. 6:19). It is the Holy Spirit, working through the Means of Grace, who delivers to us the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins in the waters of Baptism, who puts into our hearts saving faith in Christ, who puts into our ears the Word of Christ declaring us forgiven through His death and resurrection, who puts into our mouths the Body and Blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.
You can be absolutely certain of your standing as God’s children because your heavenly Father has promised the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake, and He is a Father who always keeps His promises. He has given the Holy Spirit to us as a guarantee! (2 Cor. 5:5). Through the Means of Grace, God the Holy Spirit tells you of your heavenly Father’s love and grace. He tells you that you are His and your sins are forgiven as the Gospel is declared to you in the spoken Word, in Baptism, in the Absolution, and in the Lord’s Supper. These words and promises of your heavenly Father are sure and certain no matter how you feel or how badly you have fallen short of righteousness as a parent or as a person.
Because this is most certainly true, you, dear children of God, have full access to your Father in heaven. He always hears your prayers because of the faith given to you in Christ as you pray in the name of Jesus. And God the Spirit prays with you as you offer your requests and thanksgivings. The Word promises in Romans 8, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27 ESV).
God the Father has made you His children through faith in Jesus, who died and rose for you. He is a Father, who unlike earthly Fathers, can always be counted on to give you His good gifts—what you need for this life, and the gift of eternal life through your Savior, Jesus. And God is a Father who not only gives you good gifts, but the best gift—the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has brought you to saving faith in Jesus. He delivers to you the gifts of Jesus’ cross in the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. The Spirit sustains you in faith through Word and Sacrament and He prays alongside you in every prayer you make to your Father in heaven.
Now to God the Holy Spirit let us pray:
Shine in our hearts, O Spirit, precious light.
Teach us Jesus Christ to know aright.
That we may abide in the Lord who bought us,
Till to our true home He has brought us. Lord, have mercy. (LSB 768:1,4)