Last time, I shared a message from the Book of Jonah, “God, too, has concerned.”
Just as Jonah regretted and lamented when the gourd withered, we too, when we lose something, realize how precious it was and mourn. However, the purpose of that experience was for us to understand that God also regrets for the people of Nineveh and the souls of the Japanese, to the point that God is distressed by the reality that those returning to Japan may drift away from the church. God wants us to stand in that gap.
That was the message from the last time. Indeed, God is inviting us to serve for the sake of those departing for Japan. Now that we understand this, the question arises: What can we do?
…What can we do? …Many believers who have encountered the Gospel, known Jesus, and received faith in the love of the cross, which is not present in Japan. They, as travelers, encounter various gaps upon returning and end up drifting away from the church. God regrets such events, and we have come to understand that feeling. But what can we do? What are we capable of doing?
In today’s reading, there is a portrayal of someone unable to provide the necessary bread for a traveler. Although this person cannot do anything for the traveler who needs bread, they go to seek help from a certain person. That person is a reliable friend, probably affluent and possessing abundant wealth.
He asks this friend to lend him three loaves of bread. He clings to the idea that if it’s that friend, he will give it to him. He thought, “I cannot do anything for the travelers, but I can ask that friend to provide the bread needed for the travelers.”
Think about it, everyone. How many friends can you ring the doorbell at midnight? Such a thing is possible only with the closest and most intimate friend.
This parable is told after the disciples asked Jesus to teach them about prayer, following the teaching of the Lord’s Prayer. In this parable, Jesus is teaching us that He is the rich, reliable, only friend we can always seek help from.
In today’s scripture, it is mentioned to ask that friend for the bread necessary for the traveler.
Such prayers are called “intercessory prayers.” It is a prayer offered by someone who knows their own powerlessness.
And this scripture also teaches that such prayers should be offered fervently. Be persistent in prayer.
Why does Jesus ask for persistent prayer? The Greek word translated as “persistence” is ἀν•αιδεια (anaideia). Interestingly, the first part of the word, “ἀν” (an), conveys a sense of negation. For example, the English word “unbelievable” means “not believable.” The word ἀν•αιδεια (anaideia) translated as “persistence” means “not being shameless.”
Because it’s just three loaves of bread. It’s ringing the doorbell loudly at midnight. Jesus is teaching us to be bold in prayer and become skilled at asking. If you are interested in what skillful asking in prayer looks like, please learn from the prayers of Abraham and Moses in Genesis 18 and Exodus 33.
Surprisingly, this friend initially refuses, saying, “I want to sleep, so don’t bother me.” This is a parable, and we know that Jesus does not have such a character. So, what does He want to teach with this initial refusal?
I think Jesus wants to convey that He delights in our attitude of not giving up, continuing to believe, and waiting for the answer to prayer. Why? Because the relationship where we ask and the Lord gives is the bond between us and God.
For the men here, when a woman asks for something, when a favor is requested, when you’re begged for something, you’ve probably answered like this: “Hmm, what should I do?” Any experiences like that? No, there must be. (LOL)
It’s not a feeling of wanting to be mean; it comes from the desire to deepen the relationship between the two. Yes, Jesus is inviting us to become more fervent in prayer to deepen our faith and trust in Him.
So, what happens? What did this reliable friend give? Three loaves of bread? No, far beyond what we desire and think, this friend gives “anything needed.” This illustrates the need for us to realize our powerlessness when we cannot do anything for the travelers. When we realize that, we can be transformed into those who rely on this friend, who can provide everything needed, through prayer.
Now, let’s serve as intercessors for the returee ministry.