That’s the Wrong Context: Luke 11:9

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
-Luke 11:9, English Standard Version

Look, these are Jesus’ words in the Bible and the pop culture, greeting card theologians like to take this verse and roll with it. I mean, who doesn’t like it entirely out of context? Just ask and you’ll get it! Knock on the doors, they’ll open for you. It has prosperity gospel written all over it and, what’s the best part? Jesus said these words! “Don’t just take my word for it,” the charlatan prosperity gospel preacher will say, “these are the words of Jesus!” Except, He’s not talking about the Lord handing you every Earthly possession you need, He’s not talking about Earthly opportunities. He’s talking about something different and much better when read in context.

Luke 11 speaks a lot about prayer. Verses 2-4 outline the traditional Lord’s Prayer or Our Father. The passage that immediately precedes verse 9, speaks about a persistent person asking and asking and asking for bread from a friend in the middle of the night. Eventually because of their persistence, the friend gives them bread. Verse 9 then says to ask, seek, and find. What does He say to ask for? Anything we want in the world as though God is some cosmic genie? Not exactly.

Verses 9-12 serve as the build up to verse 13. In these verses, Jesus first tells us to ask, knock, and seek in order to find that which we need. He then continues on to speak about how we give our children that which they need or ask for and not evil things instead. Verse 9 falls in the middle of this build up, which ends with verse 13. In verse 13, Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (ESV).” What are we called to ask for? What is the good gift Jesus says we will find if we ask and seek it? The Holy Spirit, the physical presence of God Himself.

This is so much better than some cosmic genie nonsense the prosperity gospel peddlers try to throw at you! This is God Himself coming to dwell within you! God Himself providing His Spirit to guide, minister, and lead you. This is God directly intervening and being a part of our life, being physically present through all the trials we will invariably face. He never promises a perfect life for those who follow Him. He promises the opposite, in fact (John 15:20). However, He constantly promises to be present (Matthew 28:19-20). That’s the Holy Spirit and I am so thankful for that.

About the Author

Matthew Newman

Matthew Newman is a Christian environmental engineer (Professionally licensed in Maryland). He’s also a husband, beard aficionado, Dad of four beautiful children, blogger, and all around geeky guy from Baltimore County. When he’s not chasing his kids or working, he’s probably asleep.

3 Comments on "That’s the Wrong Context: Luke 11:9"

  1. Excellent analysis! I’ve been going through a study of Luke with my small group and one of the things we noticed was how much emphasis the author places on the Holy Spirit. He is that which we ask, seek and knock for and He promises to respond! That, to me, is one of the coolest things in the world!

    • Matthew Newman | July 27, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Reply

      Absolutely. And people who try to treat Jesus like some cosmic genie granting your every wish try to use verses like this to justify it. But that’s not what this means. Context is everything.

  2. That’s an interesting post. If we ask God that we need Him, we shall be given awards from Him.

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