Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Parables of Jesus, Part 6 -- The Unwelcome Visitor

Primary Sources:

1. The Parables of Jesus, James Montgomery Boice, Moody Publishers, 1983
2. The Parables of Jesus, R. C. Sproul, video series and Study Guide, Ligonier Ministries, 2013

Parables of Jesus, Part 1
Parables of Jesus, Part 2
Parables of Jesus, Part 3
Parables of Jesus, Part 4
Parables of Jesus, Part 5

A Knock on the Door, at 12 Midnight (Luke 11:5-8)

“Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his [impudence (ESV)] [persistence (NASB)] he will rise and give him whatever he needs. (Luke 11:5-8)

What’s up with that? Impudence (very rude) and persistence do not mean the same thing. And who is the antecedent of highlighted "his", is it the friend outside or the sleeper inside? Arggh I don't understand. Am I lost? I hope not!

How much more so?

The concluding contrast with God is interesting:

13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Jesus doesn’t promise “good gifts” for the asking, as in money, success, fame, fortune, super models, season tickets, etc. He promises, for the asking, the Holy Spirit. Now that's a gift. Game. Set. Match.

Those Pesky Greeks and their Tiresome, Imprecise Language!

The word translated as impudence or persistence appears only once in the bible: in this parable. From Strong’s (G335)

335: anaideia [an-ah'-ee-die-ah'] from a compound of 1 (as a negative particle (compare 427)) and 127; impudence, i.e. (by implication) importunity:--importunity.

That’s not helpful, because it says it can mean impudence (rude behavior) or importunity (persistence). Drats. No wonder their empire crumbled! (OK, just kidding. I love the Greeks, especially Gyros.)

The Standard View

Very similar to the Parable of the Unjust Judge—namely the emphasis is on persistency, and that God has ears and will (sooner or later) hear and respond.

An Alternate View

There does not seem to be persistence involved. After all, the friend only knocks once. So we resolve the translation ambiguity not with persistency but with impudence (rude behavior). But if the “friend” represents a believer coming to God—it seems odd to liken that to rude behavior.

The sleeper on the other hand—maybe he is the antecedent of the “his”. Why was he rude? After all he was the one awakened.  Well, his behavior might be impudent because he was reluctant to save his friend from the social faux pas of not being able to show hospitality to his own unexpected guest.

But still a tough sell: yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

It's, it's, it's, hard!  Perhaps we can say:
  • If you are a desperate situation and even a rude friend who would rather sleep than help you will eventually give assistance—how much more so will God give you good things? 
  • Or maybe it is the traditional interpretation—but the lesson is still that God is certain to give you good things (in a spiritual/providence sense, not in a prosperity gospel sense.)

Compare the Two Parables
  • The Unjust Judge 
    • Element of persistence (the widow, prayer) 
    • Element of a fallen man (the judge, justice) 
  • The Friend at Night 
    • Element of persistence (perhaps; it’s about praying for a need) 
    • Element of a fallen man (friend? sleeper? providence) 
Regardless, both teach that if fallen man (begrudgingly) comes through, how much more can you expect from God?

OK, I get that. Maybe I'll still sneak into heaven.


Jump to Part 7

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