Summary: Jesus spent a night in prayer before picking the disciples. What would our life be like if we prayed before picking OUR friends, or before making any important decision?
Our Bible lesson tonight, takes place early in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. However, he has already been very busy.
He began his teaching ministry in Galilee where he was initially well received. But it wasn’t long until his teachings began to rub some people, particularly the religious leaders, the wrong way. His teaching caused them to have to move out of their very comfortable comfort zones and they didn’t like that.
The reaction he got was they wanted to throw him off a cliff (ever know somebody like that?)
From there he began his healing ministry beginning with a man possessed with an evil spirit, followed by a woman who had a high fever. This was followed by a man with leprosy. By now, his ability to heal was getting around. Next time people gathered around him there were so many people, that a small entourage made a hole in the roof and lowered a man who was paralyzed down to Jesus. Jesus was becoming a very popular person among the ill and the poor.
Interspersed between the stories of healing, Luke tells us of the times Jesus built relationships with fishermen, spent time socializing with sinners and tax collectors, and throughout people either continued to be amazed by his teaching and power, or developed murderous thoughts about him.
As we read the first few chapters of Luke’s story of Jesus, we see a man whose ministry is dynamic, energetic, intense, and highly motivating.
I can’t begin to imagine the drive it must have taken to cultivate such a successful ministry.
And yet, Luke makes it very clear to us that Jesus always found time to retreat to places alone and spend time in prayer.
It is an element key to the life of Jesus. It is an emphasis Luke, throughout his record, doesn’t want us to miss.
Jesus had a very active prayer life, spending a great deal of time in communion personally with God.
With the many followers Jesus has begun to accumulate, it should not surprise us at all, that we find him this evening, spending an entire night in prayer on the mountain, before making a most crucial decision - who will be his core group of followers that he will cultivate to be leaders with his church.
Tonight, we begin a journey, exploring our faith, exploring our discipleship.
Jesus calls each and every one of us to be his followers. Tonight we begin to explore what that means - to be a follower of Jesus.
What kind of person might we become? What sort of changes would we need to make in our life?
What sort of habits do we need to cultivate?
And I believe as we consider where we are on the journey and explore where we might go from here, we will ask ourselves how our lives might be different.
In the days ahead, we will be looking at exploring the Bible, God’s word, at what faithful worship attendance means, at supporting the ministry of our Lord both financially and physically. Tonight we begin by exploring our prayer life, and as I read these words about Jesus this evening, I am led to ask what our lives might be like
if we pray before making decisions in the way in which Jesus prayed before making decisions.
I don’t remember praying and asking God’s guidance before picking my closest companions as Jesus did. I have to wonder, what will my life be like if I do so in the future - and not only praying before picking my friends, but what will life be like asking for God’s guidance before all such decisions in life?
Shortly after Jesus’ resurrection and after he ascended into heaven, Jesus’ followers found themselves with a decision to make. Jesus obviously took a lot of time and went to a great deal of trouble picking those who would be leaders in his ministry.
One of the 12 - Judas - was dead. The disciples felt it was imperative to find a replacement for him and keep the number of church leaders to 12.
And so they prayed.
They asked for God’s guidance and God’s blessing. They drew lots, and through the drawing of lots, the new replacement was discerned. It appears that the disciples found divine intervention in the way the lot fell.
I have to confess, I don’t think I have it all boxed up so neatly as they appear to have. I just don’t think that if I pray every time, God will tell me which home to live in, which car I should buy, which company I should invest my money in, which novel I should pick to read.
I just don’t think God operates that way.
And yet, we then find ourselves in a dilemma. Why pray before making decisions if God’s not going to tell us what to do?