Rev. Greg Haseloff – “The Other Than – Who Is Within Our Reach”
“For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish?...If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”-- Luke 11:10, 12
The story that Jesus tells comes just after His encouragement to “Ask and it will be given to you.” The illustration He gives does so much more than simply affirm God’s character as good. This much is obviously clear – on a baseline the goodness of God resonates with that of a parent who would never give a snake or a scorpion to their child when the child asked for a fish or requested an egg!
However, at least two more major truths are present in this teaching of Jesus. While the “goodness” of a parent is part of His illustration, Jesus also uses a qualifier as He is speaking to the crowd – “If you then, who are EVIL.” Whoa! While speaking to them in descriptors for them to understand goodness, He gives a weighty label to what is inside them. The authority of Jesus’ teaching is so visible in moments like this, because He shines the spotlight on our desperate need of His divine presence. The parental kind of goodness that would pass along a fish or an egg is still very lacking when salvation is at stake.
Parental goodness that cares for the well-being of a child can result in nothing more than earthly love. Jesus is speaking very directly about a generosity and goodness that is greater than this particular “parental goodness.” It can only come from a source outside of us – beyond the evil bent within human nature. The second major truth here is the reality of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus is ready to give to those who ask. He is entirely “other than,” yet God the Father and God the Son are ready to make us holy with the divine gift that exceeds the gift of a fish or an egg – the gift of the Holy Spirit.