Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
September 16, 2007
12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
13 And when it was day, he called unto him
his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
14 Simon (whom he also named Peter), and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,
15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son
of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,
16 And Judas the brother
of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.
1901 ASV Translation
12 And it came to pass in these days, that he went out into the mountain to pray; and he continued all night in prayer to God.
13 And when it was day, he called his disciples; and he chose from them twelve, whom also he named apostles:
14 Simon, whom he also named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip and Bartholomew,
15 and Matthew and Thomas, and James the son
of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot,
16 and Judas the son
of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor;
- I. The Structure of Luke's Material.
- A. At the end of Luke's record of the healing of the leper (a greater than Moses is here), Jesus withdrew into the deserted places and was praying (5:16) and that led into the "rejection material" that runs from 5:17-6:11.
- B. Now, at the end of that "rejection material", Luke once again presents Jesus in prayer, but this time it is on a mountain and this time it leads into the presentation of Jesus' choice of The Twelve.
- II. Luke's Prior References to This Kind of Prayer.
- A. In 1:10 Luke prefaced the promise of the coming of John with "the whole multitude of the people were praying" (but there is no reference to "prayer" regarding the promise of the coming of Jesus).
- B. In 3:21 Luke recorded that when Jesus was baptized, He was praying and heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him.
- C. As already mentioned, in 5:16 Jesus withdrew from His popularity with the people so that He could pray in the "wildernesses".
- D. This reference to Jesus' prayer is Luke's fourth (out of eighteen) reference to this kind of prayer.
- 1. There are other references to "prayer" in this record that use other words to refer to it: 1:13; 2:37; and 5:33 (this kind of "prayer" signifies a more intense personal desire than is typically associated with the term Luke used of Jesus) and 19:46 and 22:45 where the noun form of the verb found in our current text is used.
- 2. There is no reference to "prayer" in the record of the temptation in the wilderness for forty days, nor are there any references to "prayer" in any of the records of the miracles. Prayer does not "show up" where one might expect it and it does seem to show up only by Luke's choice in "odd" places (at the promise of "John" but not at the promise of "Jesus"??).
- 3. It is interesting that, after Jesus' prayer "in the wildernesses" (where the "vipers" typically live), He was subjected to all kinds of criticism and, after Jesus' prayer "on the mountain" (which is a rather well known metaphor for a "kingdom"), He chose His future Kingdom-leaders (22:30). Luke seems to be telling Theophilus that Jesus used prayer to prepare Himself for the reactions people were going to give Him.
- III. Luke's "Point"?
- A. In the first place, it is remarkable that Jesus spent a whole night in prayer.
- 1. Men, in general, consider prayer to be a means of communication with God. Because of this general impression, to tell us that Jesus carved out a whole night to spend in prayer, does a couple of things: first, it makes one wonder why Jesus did that if He was typically communing with God in the sense of Paul's "pray without ceasing" concept; and second, it makes one wonder about all these folks who present the notion of God's communication with men as inner verbal impression since Jesus would have had that kind of thing down pat (if it were a true concept), yet He spent all night in prayer before He chose the Twelve.
- 2. The entire notion of Jesus dedicating a whole night to prayer raises all manner of questions. Did Jesus "use" prayer for the purpose of "rejuvenation"? Was it a lack of "information" that caused Jesus to spend a whole night in prayer? What was going on in Jesus' "night of prayer"? What significant difference is there between "walking with God" day after day and "dedicating a specific period of time to prayer"?
- 3. There are vast mysteries involved in "prayer". Luke's references seem to highlight at least a few of them.
- B. It cannot be an accident that Luke connected Jesus' "all-nighter" in prayer to His immediately-afterward action.
- 1. That Jesus chose The Twelve immediately after spending the whole night in prayer (we are told that Jesus did not even do that before He went to Calvary) has to mean something really significant. It, however, may also be significant that no one but Luke (see Matthew 10 and Mark 3) mentioned the linkage between Jesus' prayer and the choosing of the Twelve. This certainly lets us know that we do not know whether all-nighters in prayer were a habitual practice of Jesus, or a rare thing. We know little about Jesus' prayer life.
- 2. Since human beings seem to have an innate sense that "prayer" is an important activity, Luke seems to be capitalizing upon that at this point.
- C. It seems that the only solid conclusion we can draw from Luke's record is that the choice of The Twelve was an extremely important act.
- 1. Since Luke's material from 5:17-6:11 is evidently a "unit" in that it deals specifically with the opposition of the Pharisees and their scribes, and since Luke deliberately told Theophilus both before and after that "unit" that Jesus had withdrawn so that He could pray, we almost have to see Luke's "bracket" of prayer as a kind of structural marker to help his reader(s) see his "point". But, the question is: what "point"? In one sense, the references are not a "bracket". If we see the references to prayer as "introductory" to the next series of events that are recorded, the references cease to "bracket" one set of events and take on the identity of "initiating" records that get us prepared for what is coming. If this is Luke's method of helping his reader(s) to understand him, it may well be that Luke's references to Jesus' special times of prayer have something significant to do with the way he put his picture of Jesus together.
- 2. There can be little doubt that the choice of The Twelve was enormously significant when we understand that 22:30 reveals that this choice was of men who would be heavily involved forever in the execution of the details of the eternal kingdom of God.