20Oct 20 October. Saturday, Week 28

1st Reading: Ephesians (1:15-23)

May God enlighten your vision to see the hope you are called to

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 8)

R.: You gave your children power over the works of your hand

How great is your name, O Lord our God,
through all the earth!
Your majesty is praised above the heavens;
on the lips of children and of babes
you have found praise to foil your enemy. (R./)

When I see the heavens, the works of your hands,
the moon and the stars which you arranged,
what is man that you should keep him in mind,
mortal man that you care for him? (R./)

Yet you have made him little less than a god;
with glory and honour you crowned him,
gave him power over the works of your hand,
put all things under his feet. (R./)

Gospel: Luke (11:47-54)

In attacking Jesus, the Pharisees take sides with those who killed the prophets of old

Jesus said to the Scribes and Pharisees,

“Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

When he went outside, the Scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.


Paul’s prayer for believers

There are two remarkable prayers in Ephesians expressing what God is doing in our lives. Eph 1:15-23 and Eph 3:14-21. These hopeful prayers are all the more striking in an epistle written from prison. In Eph 6:20 he calls himself “an ambassador in chains for the gospel.”

Pastor David Gundersen unpacks today’s prayer into this series of questions and answers:

  • Paul, why are you praying? Because I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.
  • What are you saying in your prayers for us? I’m giving thanks to God for you.
  • How often do you thank God for us? I do this every time I pray.
  • Who are you praying to? To the God of our Lord Jesus Christ — the Father of glory.
  • What are you praying for? That you may a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Himself.
  • How does that happen? He enlightens the eyes of your heart.
  • What’s the purpose? So that you will know the hope to which you are called.
  • Could you explain that? So that you will know the riches of the glory among the saints.
  • Anything else? So that you will know the surpassing greatness of His power.
  • Can you give an example? He raised Christ from the dead.
  • And then what happened? He seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.
  • What does that mean? He’s far above every ruler and authority and power and lordship..

Jesus reminds the Pharisees and lawyers about the blood of martyrs, and condemns them for putting monumental tombs over the graves of the prophets. It is not that he is opposed to honouring the prophets but the right way to honour the dead is by continuing their life-work and sharing their concern for others, rather than concentrating on their dead bones. The inspirational legacy of the martyrs is honoured when we stand for God’s way, and speak and work in for justice, for other people’s dignity and rights.

Teachers and learners

Jesus criticizes the experts in the Jewish Law, for taking away the key of knowledge. They refusd to come to know God themselves, as Jesus reveals Him, and kept others from coming to know God. Their calling was to be teachers of the way to God, but they went astray. Jesus holds the key to the knowledge of God, because he reveals God more fully than any other human being could. In rejecting Jesus, the lawyers were taking away the key of knowledge.

God has given us the key to knowing him by giving us Jesus, with whom we are all learners. Indeed, we will always be learners when it comes to God. The mistake is to think ourselves learned and clever about the meaning of life. On the contrary we need to become more like infants, always having much to learn. Only if we humbly recognize our situation will we come to know God more fully. That is why Jesus prayed, earlier in Luke’s gospel, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the learned and the clever and have revealed them to infants.”

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