About five years ago on a Saturday night my family had just finished eating dinner (the girls helped me make some baked cheese raviolis, I fixed a nice salad and Michelle made a wonderful brown butter sauce with sage – it was very good) and Kaitlyn asked Michelle “mommy can we have a little dessert?” We actually didn’t have anything for dessert, at least not enough for everyone to have some, and so Michelle said “We don’t have a little dessert.” Kaitlyn wasn’t deterred by this answer and so she asked, “Well, how about a big dessert.” (That’s a great reply isn’t it.)
There is a parable that Jesus tells in Luke 11. In Luke, Jesus tells it right after He answers the disciples request to teach them to pray, just like John taught his disciples. Of course in answer to that request, Jesus teaches them what we call The Lord’s Prayer and then directly after that goes into this parable. (See Luke 11:1-8)
Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.' "Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
Isn’t that a wonderful parable? Let’s think about it for a bit. There is a lot about how we live that makes it hard to get the fullness of this parable. Maybe the first has to do with how available things were. There were no 24 hour convenient stores. So when someone comes knocking and you don’t have something, running down to the corner isn’t an option. Maybe we need to remember that the majority of these people weren’t living in a house were each kid had their own bedroom, not only did they not have their own bed room, they didn’t even share a bedroom with just their siblings, as you can pick up from the scripture, everyone was just in on big room. It was a family slumber party every night.
There are two other things that are at the heart of this parable that we need to understand. The first is an understanding of hospitality in that day. I’m sure many of you can think about stories from the Old Testament where we see just how important hospitality was. So when a traveling friend comes knocking at your door, who you didn’t even know was coming, you don’t turn them away. In fact, even the stranger who is in need would hopefully find a place to rest in some kind persons’ house. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (12:2) The other thing at the heart of this parable is boldness, the boldness of someone to knock on your door even though he knows you are asleep, even though he knows it will be a disturbance, but because there is a real need, he knocks.
Now, you and I realize that after Jesus teaches on The Lord’s Prayer and goes directly into a parable it probably means it is connected to prayer in some way. This is true here. It is about boldness and how God is not afraid of our boldness. Remember we are called to “approach the throne of grace with confidence.” (Heb. 4:16) I think sometimes we “don’t know the power of God” (Matt 22:29) and therefore we don’t pray with boldness. Now, that boldness has to be through faith and, if I can take the parable a little farther (maybe farther than Jesus intended) the pray of boldness isn’t just for us. The bread was for the neighbor, but ultimately for the visitor.
So the question becomes, why would I ask for a little dessert instead of a big dessert? In all truth, I don’t deserve dessert, but praise God our Lord is a God of mercy and grace.
Because of Him,
Rev. Lynn Beach is married to his college sweetheart, Michelle, and they have two adorable daughters. He has been at Park Church since July 2013.