In chapters five and six, Luke uses a literary form in which the same statement or idea introduces and concludes a section of Scripture. Chapter 5 describes how Jesus handled His increasing popularity: “Great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”
What were the results of Jesus’ wilderness prayer sessions? “Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the Power of the Lord was present to heal them” (Luke 5:17). Where did Jesus’ power to heal come from? Through prayer!
Then Luke concludes by ending with another story of Jesus’ prayer sessions resulting in healing power: Now it came to pass in those days that He went up the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He came down with His disciples and a great multitude of people came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, including those who were tormented by unclean spirits. And power went out from Him and He healed them all” (Luke 6:12, 13, 17-19).
In prayer, we have access to all the power available to Jesus. As you read the stories of the crowds and the conflicts that followed Him everywhere, ask God to give you power to heal the conflicts in your life, and the power to cope with the stresses you face each day.
It is hard for us to imagine the constant accusations made against Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees who followed Him all day, every day, looking for opportunities to criticize Him and undermine His ministry. Like reporters today who track politicians and actors, the spies following Jesus seemed always present. But, while Jesus often withdrew to pray, He never shied away from countering accusations with Scripture and using His healing power to prove His divinity.
As you read Luke 6:1-11, consider if you are focusing on what you can’t do on Sabbath, rather than seeing each Sabbath as a day to do good to save life (Luke 6:9).
As you read Luke’s less familiar version of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Luke 6:20-49, pray for God to give you His power and mercy to deal with the difficult people in your life.
Douglas Jacobs, D.Min.
Professor of Church Ministry and Homiletics
School of Religion, Southern Adventist University