Summary: The parable of the friend who came begging at midnight presents a contrast of need, concern, and ability.
The Friend at Midnight Luke 11:5-11
INTRO.: Have you ever felt betrayed by someone you felt you should be able to trust? Have you ever asked for a favor and been turned down by someone you thought should help? Has a neighbor disappointed you?
In the neighborhood where I grew up, doors were never locked and if a neighbor wanted to borrow something, they simply came and got it. If someone was home they didn’t ask "can I borrow a cup of sugar?’ they said, "I’m borrowing a cup of sugar." locking the door might constitute an insult to the neighbors.
In Jesus’ day, it was much the same. Hospitality was a serious social obligation. You didn’t hesitate to share your possessions with neighbors or even travelers. This is the background of the parable.Some parables teach by making a positive comparison. Jesus often said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like . . ." But others teach by presenting a contrast. This story is one of the latter. This is probably a fictitious story because it starts out, "suppose . . ." Jesus plans to contrast the love of the Heavenly Father with the fickleness of our earthly friends.
I. There is a contrast in need:
A. The neighbor wants 3 loaves of bread to provide for a guest.
1. It was common to travel at night to avoid summer heat. For this reason, perhaps, the guest comes at midnight.
2. Bread was baked daily and usually consumed in a day. The host had nothing to offer his guest and was embarrassed.
3. Certainly a serious need, but not necessarily a life and death problem.
B. In contrast, what we need from our Heavenly Father is often a life and death need.
1. We depend on Him for life and breath and all things. Acts 17:25
2. We go to Him when we are in the direst of circumstances seeking help.
3. In prayer we ask God to set aside all the laws of nature in order to help someone who is confessedly unworthy.
4. It’s amazing God should heal cancer, drug addiction, or AIDS. But, sometimes in answer to the prayers of His people, He does that.
5. Not always, because He knows better than we do just what we need.
6. We always pray for God to spare a life, but the greatest gift He can give HIS people is death. It means we go to be with Him eternally.
7. So, Jesus has in view here things much beyond three loaves of bread.
II. A contrast in concern:
A. In the story we have a man who shows little concern for his friend:
1. We can, in part, understand why. It was night and he was in bed. It would be much trouble to get up.
2. The houses of the working people had only one big room and everyone slept in one end of it. Small animals and poultry were often kept in the other end at night.
3. There was often only one small window, so the door was kept open for ventilation in the day. A closed door meant the family was in bed and did not wish to be disturbed.
4. He will get up only because of the neighbor’s boldness. I.e.: the children and animals are already awake. It’s too late to remain quiet.
5. He will do whatever is necessary to get some peace and quiet.
B. This contrasts with the love of God for His children:
1. He is a loving Heavenly Father Who wants to give us what we need.
2. He will even give us His Holy Spirit. The Spirit enables us to pray according to God’s will. Rom. 8:26
3. He knows our needs better than we do and give what we truly need, not just what we desire.
III. A contrast in ability:
A. What a friend can do is limited. What God can do is not.
1. ILLUS.: Story of a man who said, "if you can" to Jesus Mark 9:22ff
2. Jesus could do anything by the power of God. He even raised the dead.
3. Sometimes we may ask a friend, "Would you do me a favor" and he will say, "If I can."
4. There is no doubt of God’s ability to help us. It is not in question.
B. Then, why does it seem sometimes our prayers are not answered? Possible Biblical answers:
1. "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;" Ps. 66:18
2. "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives," James 4:3
C. Another possibility is seen in Paul’s thorn in the flesh. II Cor. 12:7-9
1. He pleaded three times for the Lord to remove this mysterious malady and God did not.