12.01.08 Lk. 11:5-13
PARABLE OF A MIDNIGHT FRIEND
5 He also said to them: “Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him at midnight
A and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
B 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me,
C and I don’t have anything to offer him.’”
C’ 7 Then he will answer from inside and say, ‘Don’t bother me!
B’ The door is already locked, and my children and I have gone to bed.
A’ I can’t get up and give you anything.’
8 I tell you,
“even though he won’t get up
and give him anything
because he is his friend,
yet because of the man’s boldness
he will get up
and give him as much as he needs.”
9 “So I say to you:
Keep asking, and it will be given to you.
Keep searching, and you will find.
Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
10 For everyone who asks receives; he who searches finds,
and to him who knocks,
the door will be opened.’”
11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish,
will give him a snake instead of a fish?
12 Or if he asks for an egg,
will give him a scorpion?
13 If you then,
who are evil,
know how to give good gifts
to your children,
how much more
will your heavenly Father
give the Holy Spirit
to those who ask him!”
The literary style of verses 5-7 is rather technical, as the patterns are not recognized with repeating words. The reader needs to observe the motives behind each stanza, clearly reflecting the skill the first century listeners had in understanding and memorizing complicated parables. In line A, a request to give a loaf of bread is made, whereas in A’ the negative answer is given for the loaf of bread. In lines B and B,’ the reason is given with a final comment in C and C’.
The literary style changes in verses 8-13 and is relatively easy to follow with repeating words in the matching lines. Undoubtedly, some may find this to be somewhat difficult at first, which is why this writer has added several letters followed by an explanation. However, the listeners of the first century were trained to listen in this manner and immediately recognized the patterns.
“Goes to him at midnight and says.” At midnight people were sound asleep and a knock on the door was very unusual. With hearing only a knock, the residents would not know who was outside – and that would be a frightening event. But when the unexpected visitor speaks, those inside will recognize his voice. Interestingly, in this culture strangers knocked, but neighbors and friends called. The fact that someone both knocked and called reveals an urgent situation.
The moral of the story is that if an unwilling friend is willing to serve at midnight, how much more is our Father in heaven ready to supply our needs? The lesson Jesus gave is that God the Father desires to give His children good gifts, just as any earthly father would do for his children. Likewise, just as a fish and eggs are good food, snakes and scorpions are hazardous.
. Bailey, Poet and Peasant. Part I, 120.
. Bailey, Poet and Peasant. Part I 48, 120, 135; Fleming, The Parables of Jesus. 71.
. For a similar theme and literary style, see 08.04.05; Mt. 7:7-12.