When I was younger, I used to watch a TV programme called “Quantum Leap.” In it, a physicist called Sam Beckett would travel through time jumping into the lives of other people in which he would solve some sort of dilemma before he would jump into the life of another.  The Christian life is loosely analogous to this concept too, in that the new life of Christ has come alive within us and helps lead us, guide us and conform us into His image. And while this is done through God providentially assigning us with a specific genetic make-up, leading us into and out of certain life experiences and through the power of His Spirit, it is also, to a greater or lesser extent, linked to our volitional choice. Therefore, we as believers must genuinely ask the question, in regards to how we live our lives and the decisions we make, what would Jesus do?
Luke, in this passage, having described the demands of discipleship, gives us a twenty-four hour period within the life of Jesus – a period from which we are able to draw three integral truths for the life of the Christian and the life of the Christian Church. These truths, however, must not be seen as exhaustive but illustrative of individual and collective Christlikeness.
1. The Primacy of Care
“22 Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them,“Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. 23 But as they sailed He fell asleep.” Luke 8:22-23
Most Christians, like their non-Christian friends and family, have very little time for other people. Sure, we can be polite and civil (some of us at least), but our relationships with our fellow worshippers, family members, work colleagues and neighbours is often superficial at best and our care of the stranger in our midst, be it the new girl at work, the immigrant neighbours who have just moved in or the new family at Church can, at times, be appalling. Jesus here is completely exhausted but still takes the time to still the storm [Luke 8:24], deliver a demon-oppressed man [Luke 8:27-39], heal a sick woman [Luke 8:43-48], raise a young girl from the dead [Luke 8:51-55] and feed five thousand people [Luke 9:12-17]. He did this because He believed in the primacy of care and the importance of people.
APPLICATION: As disciples we must follow His example. This does not mean we should overstep boundaries or not practise wisdom, but it does mean that we should learn people’s names, learn a little bit about what their interests are and about their families, stop dominating conversations, share the truth in love, refuse to put them down even in jest, practise and receive hospitality and invite them into our lives or get involved in theirs, particularly if they look as though they really need our help. It is this counter-cultural stance that makes evident the genuineness of our faith for “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” [1 John 2:6].
2. The Priority of Prayer
All bible-believing Christians agree on the importance of prayer and no-one modelled its need and the priority it should take in our lives as much as Jesus. Even within this short period we see Jesus praying a prayer of protection against the storm [Luke 8:24], a prayer of deliverance for the demon-possessed man [Luke 8:29-33], a prayer of intercession for a dead girl [Luke 8:52-55], a prayer of commission for the twelve [Luke 9:1-2],a prayer of thanks for the provision of the five thousand [Luke 9:16] and a prayer for revelation for the disciples [Luke 9:18-20, Matthew 16:17]. However, our lives and churches often suffer from a lack of supernatural power that results from the low priority we place on sincere, heart-felt, faith-based prayer.
APPLICATION: This week ask that God would give you the ability to pray. Spend some time finding what places and what times work best for you. A fruitful prayer life will have set-times (like before meals, when waking up and going to bed) and impromptu times, will pay attention to the bible and the newspaper and will be for the affairs of others as well as for yourself. Some people may find that worship music or the sound of creation helpful when praying.
3. A Willingness to Share
9 Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases…6 So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Luke 9:1,6
A husband who can repair an engine but is unable to cook a meal, a child who can use complex electronic equipment but is unable to use a washing machine, an office that is over-reliant on one member of staff or a Church that collapses after the loss of their pastor or worship leader are all tragedies. These tragedies often have two things in common, an unwillingness of people to share their skills and the unwillingness of others to learn those skills. Jesus chose to complete His mission by transferring His skills to His team, and their role, as willing disciples, was to learn and practise those skills.
APPLICATION: We, too, must be facilitating others and be willing to learn new skills whether they be in the Church, the home or the workplace. Why not start by taking an inventory of some of the things that you are responsible for or some of the things you do well and teach others. This does not necessarily mean that you need to abdicate responsibility, though you may, but it does mean that you can empower others. Alternatively, you might want to get involved in areas in which you have little or no knowledge or for which you have not been responsible before. Please remember that even the most complex task can be broken down, making it more simple and manageable. Remember the way in which the “Karate Kid” is trained through menial tasks?