There’s a theme running through this chapter. First, Jesus teaches His followers to petition the One in authority, making requests on the basis of God’s holiness; of wanting His will done and His kingdom to come, on earth as in heaven. So if you think something would be a certain way in heaven, E.G. your body would be free of pain, you can ask for that on earth as well. This chapter says clearly: “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for” (Luke 11:9). I struggle with this, having found out last year that I’m losing my hearing. My hearing is really important to me as a blind person and people at church have prayed about it, but the situation hasn’t changed. Why not? I guess I have to keep on asking.
We move on to the source of Jesus’ authority. When He frees a mute, demon-possessed man, Jesus is accused of being in cohorts with Satan, but He explains the opposite is true. “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. … You say I am empowered by Satan. But if Satan is divided and fighting against himself, how can his kingdom survive?” (Luke 11:17-18). The Source of Jesus’ authority is not Satan, as some of the crowd suggest, but God. Someone strong can be overpowered only if the other person is stronger.
Jesus expresses frustration that ‘This evil generation’ keep asking for a miraculous sign to prove His authority. It reminds me of where He said something similar: “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign” (Matthew 12:39). The reason people asked Jesus for proof was that their hearts were far from Him. They had plenty of proof in the words of the Old Testament and the presence of Jesus Himself. What about me when I’m doing the asking? Do I want a miracle because I’m evil and far from God in my heart, or am I asking in faith?
At the end of Luke 11, Jesus came into conflict with the religious leaders. He gave some good advice: Don’t be too concerned with the outside, but cleanse yourselves inside by giving gifts to the poor; give a tenth of your income – yes, but don’t ignore justice and love for God; don’t enslave others without lifting a finger to help them. Sadly they didn’t benefit much from His words because as He was leaving, they became hostile and wanted something to use against Him (Luke 11:53-54).
If Jesus is Lord of our lives, He’s our Master. He says as much: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18), so as people who are in Jesus, we can pray with that same authority, and be persistent in prayer. We can trust that Jesus is well able to defeat the evil one and his plans. We don’t have to ask God for any further proof to put our faith in Him. And when we see people in positions of authority acting questionably, we shouldn’t be afraid to confront them as Jesus did, even if it leads to hostility.
How are you with this teaching on authority?