“Don’t bother the teacher any longer.” That was the rebuke that derailed my focus from the sermon one recent Sunday morning. Abandoning the preacher's train of thought (sorry, pastor), I lingered in that Luke 8 passage, trying to understand the context for such a harsh statement.
Jesus, returning to the shore after an intense day of ministry across the Sea of Galilee, is welcomed by a waiting crowd. “A man named Jairus, who was a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet. He pleaded with Jesus to come to his house because his only daughter, a twelve-year-old, was dying” (Luke 8:40-42 CEB). Jesus agreed to go with Jairus, but after ministering to a woman on the way, ““someone came from the synagogue leader’s house, saying to Jairus, “Your daughter has died. Don’t bother the teacher any longer”” (Luke 8:49-50 CEB).
Ouch! Really? What in the world was that “someone” thinking?
Hoping to gain a little insight, I explored that verse in other translations. Sadly, the words were no less stinging. Don’t “trouble the Teacher anymore” (NASB). Don’t “inconvenience the Teacher any further” (AMP). And the strongest language? “Harass not the Teacher” (YLT).
What audacity! How could that “someone” be so sure that Jesus was troubled, inconvenienced, bothered, or even harassed by the request? And, how could that “someone” presume to know just how long Jesus had apparently been feeling that way? (Note “someone’s” presumptuous analysis of the duration of Jesus's sentiment: don't bother the teacher “anymore,” “any longer,” or “any further.”)
What didn’t “someone” understand about the heart of Jesus?
In that quiet moment, the Holy Spirit gently held a mirror to my life and whispered, “Sometimes, you are that ‘someone.’” He then tenderly replayed some of my unspoken excuses for hesitating to pray, particularly about ongoing areas of needed personal maturity.
As I sat, the Holy Spirit invited me to pause and to explore Jesus’s reaction. ““When Jesus heard this, he responded, “Don’t be afraid; just keep trusting, and she will be healed”” (Luke 8:50). The Message uniquely paraphrases with, ““Jesus overheard and said, “Don’t be upset. Just trust me and everything will be all right”” (MSG).
“Does Jesus sound troubled, inconvenienced, bothered, or harassed, to you?” the Spirit kindly asked.
“No,” I responded.
“And,” He graciously continued, “If Jesus actually felt that way, do you think He would have agreed to go with Jairus in the first place?”
“Um, no,” I sheepishly answered, aware that the Spirit was lovingly exposing my distorted rationale for not praying.
“And, if Jesus were just humoring Jairus, don’t you think He might have taken advantage of this potential ‘out’, and politely agree that it was too late?”
“Well, yes, that’s true,” I thought, as the excitement of fresh revelation started bubbling up in my heart.
As all of my self-imposed reasons why not to pray (and, frankly, why not to ask others to pray) began to dissolve, I sensed a divine wink, an affectionate smile, and a reassuring head-nod from the Holy Spirit. "Go ahead," He exhorted winsomely, "‘Bother’ the Teacher.”
May I pass that tongue-in-cheek, loving invitation on to you? "Go ahead. 'Bother' the Teacher." As you journey through relentlessly challenging circumstances... go ahead, 'bother' the Teacher. As you come up against that spiritual roadblock again... go ahead, 'bother' the Teacher. As you wake up in physical pain again... go ahead, 'bother' the Teacher.
You see, the reality is, you are never a bother to God. He does not roll His eyes and sigh with irritation when you pray about things multiple times. In fact, I believe He responds quite oppositely. “Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Eternal, the Everlasting God, The Creator of the whole world, never gets tired or weary. His wisdom is beyond understanding. God strengthens the weary and gives vitality to those worn down by age and care. Young people will get tired; strapping young men will stumble and fall. But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles. They will run - never winded, never weary. They will walk - never tired, never faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31 VOICE). You are not troubling, inconveniencing, or bothering God when you continually pray about something. And, you are not irritating, interrupting, or nagging others when you ask them to pray for you.
Perhaps it is time to silence "someone's" religious voice and to stop apologetically asking for prayer. “With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people. Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you” (Ephesians 6:18, Matthew 7:7 AMP). Go ahead, “bother” the Teacher.
Did you know there is a Volume 3 of 31 Days of Encouragement? Purchase on-line today! With beautiful simplicity, these 'keep one ~ share one' devotionals open reader's eyes to the activity of God in their every day lives and encourage them to take another step in their faith journey.