Prince of Peace: From the Cradle to the Crown and Beyond
Sermon on the Mount:
The Lord’s Prayer, Part 2
Yesterday we began to examine how the passage on prayer (Mt. 6:1-8) became the lead-in to the well-known Lord’s Prayer (Mt. 6:9-15); and we considered Jesus’ teachings on the do’s and don’ts of communicating with God (e.g., in secret and directed to God versus making it a public show to garner the praise of people). Furthermore, we looked at the Apostle Luke’s similar but shorter version of the prayer, which followed the request, “Master, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples,” (11:1, MSG). This request stemmed from their observance of Jesus praying, and it made sense that they would want to learn from their Rabbi how to correctly engage in this important practice of prayer.
As with most Scripture passages, we need to determine how culture affected the Jewish people’s understanding of Jesus’ teachings. We briefly explored how Jewish customs played a role in comprehending the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. Long-standing traditions also come into play when attempting to appreciate the intimate nature of the relationship between Rabbis and their disciples, which also explains the responses of Jesus’ disciples. Doug Greenwold addresses this Rabbi-disciples relationship, noting that disciples were committed to honouring their master, and they demonstrated this through a “deep desire to emulate their rabbi …[which] often included imitating how their rabbi ate, observed the Sabbath, what he liked and disliked, as well as his mannerisms, prejudices and preferences”
(Being a First-Century Disciple, Doug Greenwold, Preserving Bible Times, Reflection #307, March 2007, https://bible.org/article/being-first-century-disciple). Therefore, it makes total sense that when the disciples observed Jesus praying that they would also want to emulate Him in this area of devotion to God. I also think it’s interesting to note that they compared their relationship as disciples of Jesus with the relationship that John the Baptist had with his disciples, because John was esteemed by many for his preaching about preparing for the Kingdom (Mt. 3: 1-2) and directing others to the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29).
Therefore, Jesus responded to, “Master, teach us to pray,” with a template for prayer. People have been reciting the Lord’s Prayer for many generations. Yet, in Matthew 6: 7-8, Jesus emphasized, “when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him,” (NIV). This causes me to think that the Lord’s Prayer was an outline of how to keep things simple when we communicate with God versus a prayer to keep reciting verbatim, which is where we will pick up tomorrow.
Blessings & Peace
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)