"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake ..." (Luke 11:11-13)

"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (Luke 11:11-13)

What is Jesus talking about?

Jesus is speaking this to his disciples, who first asked him how to pray:
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." (Luke 11:1)
Jesus followed this by teaching them what is now referred to as the "Lord's Prayer:"
"When you pray, say:
'Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your Name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.'" (Luke 11:2-4)
This follows with Jesus saying, "for everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

Now in this current statement, Jesus is still speaking of the topic of asking and giving. Why?

Because Jesus is explaining to his students not only how they should pray, but what they should pray for.

Why is what they should pray for important?

Some are teaching their followers to pray for money, success, health and so on - as if the Supreme Being is our waiter, just waiting for us to order up something. But is this what Jesus really taught? That God is our servant and we should ask Him for whatever we want? No. We should be asking Him if we can come closer.

What does that have to do with asking for one thing and being given another? Let's understand this carefully:

Jesus says, "Which of you fathers if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?"

Offhand, one might just think that Jesus is talking about not being given what is being asked for. But we must see the relationship between a snake and a scorpion. What is it?

Both the snake and the scorpion will bite and even kill. Jesus is teaching those who live in a semi-arid region, which has snakes and scorpions, both of which can kill a person with their bite.

Jesus is comparing giving their sons a snake or a scorpion when their sons asked for a fish or an egg. What are fishes and eggs? They are foods. So Jesus is asking them what father, when asked for food, will give his son creatures that would kill them?

Jesus follows up that symbolism with his statement:
"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
What is the subject of this statement? What is being asked for and given? "The Holy Spirit" is being given, which means it is what should be asked for:
"...how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
This unveils the underlying purposeful teaching of Jesus' statements, regarding how they should pray and what they should be praying for.

Why should they pray for the Holy Spirit?

Jesus is telling them that they should be praying for "the Holy Spirit."

What is the Holy Spirit and why should they be praying for this?

The phrase, "Holy Spirit" comes from the Greek phrase, πνεῦμα ἅγιον. The word πνεῦμα means, according to the lexicon, "a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting." This is being further described with the word ἅγιον, which means "most holy thing" according to the lexicon.

So while the literal translation would make the phrase "Spirit Holy" - English typically uses the adjective first.

But who is the Holy Spirit?

Is the Holy Spirit simply part of the trinity of the Supreme Being? As if the Supreme Being is made up of three parts?

The reality is that there is one Supreme Being. The Supreme Being is omnipotent and omnipresent. There is no limit on the Supreme Being in terms of where He can be and with whom.

Each of us has limitations. We can only be in one place at a time. But we can sort of be in multiple places if we use technology. A radio broadcaster can have his voice broadcast into millions of cars and radios at the same time for example.

But this power of expansion - delivered through the technology built by the Supreme Being - is limited because we are limited beings. Such an expansion of the broadcaster will not allow each person at each location to have an individual conversation with the broadcaster for example.

But the Supreme Being is not limited to this or any other technology. He is not limited by space and time at all. The Supreme Being created space and time. He is not subject to it.

The Supreme Being exists outside the planes of space and time within which the rules of the physical universe act. The Supreme Being created these rules. He is not subject to them.

He can, therefore, remain an individual being - not split into three or whatever - and still communicate and be with an unlimited number of entities at the same time.

Who guides us from within?

These physical bodies we wear - which are like automobiles a person drives - are occupied by our spiritual self. But each of us is also accompanied by an expansion of the Supreme Being.

Yes, the Supreme Being is right next to each of us. He is here with each of us, patiently and quietly watching and waiting, and lending His guidance when we seek it from Him.

This is why John the Baptist, Jesus and Jesus' disciples all taught to others:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matt. 3:1-2)
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matt. 4:17)
"As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’" (Matt. 10:7)
John, Jesus and Jesus' students were not threatening their students with the end of the world as ecclesiastical institutions and their teachers like to teach. They were telling their students that God is close. He is nearby. They can turn to Him.

The phrase "is near" or "nigh" in the King James Version - comes from the Greek word ἐγγίζω (eggizō), which means, "to bring near, to join one thing to another" and "to draw or come near to, to approach."

So John, Jesus, and Jesus' students were not preaching the end of the world. They were requesting that people change their ways, reach out to God and get close to God because God is available. He is accessible to each of us.

This, in fact, is the purpose of Jesus' teachings, and the purpose of John the Baptist's teachings and what Jesus wanted his own students to teach. He wanted to teach us to have a change of heart and re-develop our relationship with God. He wanted his students to teach others to reach out to God - because He is near - He is close by.

And this is what Jesus is also requesting that his students pray for: To reconnect with God - the Holy Spirit.

Yes, the Holy Spirit is not simply a portion of God. God is always Himself and when He expands Himself He doesn't divide Himself. Therefore, when He is with me, He is also with you. At the same time. He doesn't become divided.

"though you are evil"?

Notice in his statement that Jesus says:
"If you then, though you are evil, know how to..."
Who is Jesus calling "evil?" We know from the text that he is speaking to his students here. So he is calling them "evil?"

"Evil" here is translated from the Greek word πονηρός (ponēros), which the lexicon says means "evil" or "wicked." But the word ponēros comes from the root ponos, which means "intense desire."

So what does Jesus mean and is he calling his students evil?

Jesus is differentiating between someone who is loving and serving God and someone who is loving and serving themselves - e.g., "intense desire" - related to self-centeredness. This is also the same "evil" that Jesus suggests that his students pray to be relieved from: "but deliver us from evil.'"

We can see this meaning clearly as Jesus remarks: "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

In other words, if a basic self-centered person will still care enough about their children to give them "good gifts" - then just consider the kind of giving the Supreme Being will do.

Jesus' point is about the love the Supreme Being has for us. Even the most intimate "love" treasured in the physical world - the "love" between father and son - holds no candle to the unconditional love that the Supreme Being has for us.

This is a love that we simply cannot comprehend with the mind. The mind actually has no entrance into such a deep love because it is spiritual - outside the confines of the physical world.

What is unconditional love?

Each of us is constantly in search for the unconditional love that the Supreme Being has for each of us. We chase this love in our attempts to be famous and applauded by others; we chase this love in our attempts to fit in and be appreciated by our family; we chase this love as we seek our "soul mate;" we chase this love as we seek friendships and companionship within the world.

But none of these relationships seem to satisfy our need for unconditional love. This is because the Supreme Being is the only person who can give us the unconditional love that each of us needs so desperately.

But such a loving relationship cannot be one-sided. It is not as if we just have to receive God's unconditional love and bathe in it. We have to participate.

This means giving love. Exchanging love. Love means loving service, which means serving the one we love. This is why Jesus' most important teaching was:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" (Luke 10:27)
So Jesus is asking his students to pray to request entrance into this loving relationship with the Supreme Being. He wants them to connect with the Supreme Being - rendering his instruction: "how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him"