5 And he [Jesus] said unto them [his disciples], Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;This is an interesting parable because we know that it is teaching us to pray, but the situation Jesus describes in the parable is less familiar to us than the meaning behind it. Yet there are things that can be picked out from this parable that bring it closer to something more familiar to us.
6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Luke 11:5-10)
It struck me that this perfectly describes those times when friends come to us in the middle of a very dark and difficult time and they want help. It is as though they have been traveling at night and they’ve gotten to “midnight”--the darkest time of their affliction--and they just can’t go on any more. And they want answers. And we want to say something that helps them, something that nourishes their soul. They need the bread of life and while we’ve taken care of our own spiritual needs, we haven’t prepared anything specifically for them, so we’re not ready. They come so suddenly, you see.
So what do we do? We say those hurried silent prayers for help that the Lord will give us the words to say--the bread of life--for us to give to our tired friends. But unlike the friend in the parable who had already put his household to bed, who had closed his door, and who protested before giving, the Lord stands ready to give as much as we need.
Notice that each person in the parable was a friend. Even if our friend comes to us instead of going directly to the Lord, the Lord is still their friend as well as ours. In coming to us, they actually give us a chance to advocate for them to the Lord and become a type of Christ.
I think this parable is very widely applicable. It describes how we can help people in deep distress when they come to us. It describes how church leaders counsel with members. It’s the essence of successful visiting teaching and home teaching. It describes how parents can teach their children when/if their children come to them with serious questions and worries. It is the epitome of “helpmeet” in the spousal relationship (and goes both ways).
What if the words that come to us don’t seem to help them? Was it the wrong thing? The rest of the scripture seems to answer this.
11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?This affirms that if we say the words the Lord gives us, then it will be the nourishing answers that are needed, whether the hearer takes it that way or not. (This is very comforting to me because I have had many times when I knew I was saying the right thing, but it wasn’t accepted.)
12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:11-13)
Will you share an experience with me of a time when someone helped you through a hard time by sharing with you some of the “bread of life”?
Image: Bohemian diary, http://iamembracinglife.blogspot.com/2010/08/surprise-candlelight-dinner.html.