October 14th: “Growing through Prayer”

This Week’s Passage: Luke 6:12-19

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Committed to Christ, Step 1: Prayer

  • Judges 4:23-5:3

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

12 Why would Jesus need to spend a night in prayer?

13-16 Up to this point Jesus has many followers, but here he chooses 12 from among them.

17-19 Three groups surround Jesus: the 12, the disciples, and the crowd. All trying to touch him.

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • This is the introduction to the Sermon on the Plain; a pericope ignored by the RCL.

II. Literary Study.

B. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?

Matthew 5:1-2 – Locates this teaching from atop a mountain.

Mark 3:13-19 – locates the commissioning of the twelve atop a mountain. Followed by a different teaching.

Luke 6:12-19 – Uniquely notes Jesus spending the preceding night in prayer.

C. Review syntax/meanings of critical words, phrases, idioms

Apostle — Derived from the Greek verb meaning “to send”, in secular usage this noun described a ship, fleet, navy, or navy commander, but rarely an individual. An apostle represents the sender and carries the sender’s authority.

III. Question the text.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of gravity: Before choosing the twelve and teaching the multitude, Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, spent the evening in prayer.

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • The crowd buzzed around Jesus, trying to touch him and receive the power flowing out of him so they would be healed.

F. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?

  • That Jesus spent the night in prayer before naming the Twelve merits special emphasis.

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Fred B. Craddock (Interpretation: Luke. JKP, 1990.) notes that Luke of all of the Gospel writers, was the most attentive to prayer guiding Jesus’ ministry.

Alan R. Culpepper (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Gospel of Luke”. Abingdon, 1995.) interprets the placement of the calling of the Twelve as marking a succession from the old to the new leadership. He also notes that this is one of two occasions that Luke recorded when Jesus spent the night in prayer; the other preceded his transfiguration.

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

Jesus prepared for significant events by spending significant time in prayer prior to the event.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

How might significant time in prayer improve significant events in my life?

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