he Parable Of The Persistent Widow (ch.
18:1 - 9)
In this section Jesus tells another parable, but this time He gives
the reason why He was telling this story. The reason was to show the
importance to persist in prayer.
The story goes like this. There was a judge who did not fear God,
nor did he care about mankind. There was a widow that kept on coming to
him and asking for justice in a dispute with certain adversaries. She kept
on bugging him and he kept refusing, until finally gave up because of her
persistence. He gave her justice only because he wanted to get rid of her.
The comparison between God and the unjust judge is limited.
Obviously God is not unjust like this judge is. The judge handed out
justice very slowly and only to get rid of this lady. Yet Jesus said that
God will not be slow in passing out justice.
Yet there are a couple words we need to note here. Jesus told his
disciples that God will act swiftly for those who "cry out day and
night". The idea of crying out day and night suggests to me that
there is a sense of persistence in prayer here. There is not just one
prayer prayed and then the answer comes. There is prayers being prayed day
and night. For how long we donít know, but it is clear that this prayer
is not a 1 minute prayer.
So how do we equate persistence in prayer over a period of time with
God acting quickly? You might think that If God was that quick to answer,
the person praying would not have to pray day and night. Maybe Godís way
of thinking concerning quickness is different than ours.
One thing we can be sure of and that is that God does not answer our
prayers to get rid of us. He answers our prayers because He loves us and
because we are "His chosen ones".
So it is clear that unanswered prayers, or at least deferred answers
does not mean that we have lack of faith, or that God will not answer them
at some point. Even though Jesus said that God would not be slow in His
answer doesnít mean He will not be slow in human terms. A close look at
this passage tells us that if we cry out day and night, after that, He
will answer at some point, and He will answer in His time. Jesus calls
this a swift answer.
The Parable Of The Pharisee And The Tax
Collector (ch. 18: 9 - 14)
In verse 9 Luke points out just who this parable was directed
towards, those "who were confident in their own righteousness and
look down on others". Clearly, this would be the Pharisees.
The story goes like this. Both a Pharisee and a tax collector went
to the Temple to pray. Remember the tax collectors were hated by the Jews
because they were seen as traitors who worked for the Romans and who
extorted their fellow Jew. They were the worst of sinners.
The Pharisee, in front of everyone prays a very lofty and self
righteous prayer, thanking God that he was not like sinners who came to
pray, and especially like this tax collector who came to pray. He reminded
God of how he fasted and gave a tenth of all he had. He was quite an
outwardly righteous man.
The tax collector prayed from a distance, suggesting that he was out
of the way, and not that visible. He prayed to God for mercy because he
knew he was a sinner.
In verse 14 Jesus said that the tax collector was the one who went
home "justified before God". What does "justify" mean?
Justification is the act whereby God removes our guilt and makes us seen
as righteous in His eyes.
Why did Jesus say the tax collector was justified? The answer is
simple. The Pharisee depended on his own self righteous works to be made
right in the eyes of God. The tax collector acknowledged his sinful
condition which is part of the repentance process, then he called out in
humility for Godís mercy. For this reason God justified this man. And
for this reason God still justifies us.
Sometime I feel that people pray to be heard, as did this Pharisee.
The way they pray, the tone and inflections of their voices, and the
content of the prayer suggest other motives for their prayer. Iíve seen
a prayer used as a sermon. The prayer was not really directed to Jesus but
to those listening. This is not prayer. Humility should be found in all
aspects of our lives, including our praying.
This section ends with yet another time that Jesus says that whoever
exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be
exalted. This is the mark of a true disciple of Jesus. Arrogance should
never be part of any true disciple.
The Little Children And Jesus (ch. 18:15
In this section Luke tells us that people would often bring their
children to Jesus so He could heal them of various illnesses. On this one
occasion the disciples rebuked those who they thought bothered Jesus with
their children. Maybe the disciples thought that Jesus, His ministry, and
the things He had to say werenít all that important to little children.
It was a manís world back then, and I could understand how the disciples
would want to push little children out of the way. Yet Jesus was not so
Jesus wanted the little children to come to him. He went as far as
to say that if we donít receive the Kingdom of God like a child, we canít
enter into the Kingdom.
When the Pharisees were confronted with the idea of the Kingdom of
God they thought in terms of a physical and political kingdom. They
struggled with the idea of a spiritual kingdom. Their intellectual
background actually got in the way of understanding what Jesus was trying
to tell them.
The point to consider when Jesus is speaking here of receiving the
Kingdom as a child would be that children can be very imaginative. They
have no educational background that would hinder them from understanding
something that was out of the norm. Children who dream of fairytaleís
could easily understand the concept of an invisible kingdom.
Jesus uses 2 words in relation to the Kingdom. He uses the word
"receive" and the word "enter". Once one comes in
contact with the Kingdom of God, they have to receive it. They have to
embrace it and accept its validity. Once receiving it, then they can enter
into the Kingdom of God and participate in it. Many receive the Kingdom.
They believe in its existence but they donít really enter in and
participate. Jesus wants us to both receive and enter into the Kingdom of
God, and the best way to do this is to be like a little child.
The Rich Ruler (ch. 18:18 - 30)
In verse 18 Jesus met up with a rich ruler, most likely a synagogue
ruler. The man asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. I guess he
did not understand that life is eternal for everyone. The questions is,
where does one spend life after life on earth is over?
The man addressed Jesus as "good teacher". So when Jesus
responded to the man He asked him why he called Him good for only God is
good. The idea of only God being good is what Romans 1 and 2 is all about.
No man is good, especially compared with God Himself.
Jesus then proceeded by reminding the man of some of the Ten
Commandments. Like many church people today, the man responded by telling
Jesus that he had in fact kept these commandments from his youth. So
today, many Christians and church goers have kept the Ten Commandments,
but remember , Jesus has redefined the Ten Commandments for us by telling
us the heart of God behind each command. For instance, one command says,
"donít kill", but the redefined command from Godís heart is
"donít get angry". I am sure, like you and I, this man did not
kill, but he did get angry. Then in fact he broke the intent of the
command. Besides, did this man really love God as the first command says,
or did he love his riches.
In verse 22 Jesus responded by telling him that he should sell
everything he had and give it to the poor. After he did this the rich man
would inherit true riches in Heaven. It is clear that Jesus saw through
this man. Yes, he had obeyed the Ten Commandments as they were written,
but his god was really worldly wealth. This is why Jesus told him to sell
everything to give to the poor.
Jesus told this man to sell his possessions. We canít take this
verse and apply it to everyone, including you and I. But what we can do is
learn the lesson from this dialogue. If we hold worldly wealth as the
prime thing in our lives, then we need to re-arrange our priorities. If we
hold anything in our lives more important than Jesus, then we too need to
re-prioritize our lives if we want riches in Heaven.
Jesus also told this man that once he sold everything to
"follow me". Following Jesus is in fact being a disciple of
Jesus, and a disciple puts Jesus first in all things. He takes up his
cross daily to do what Jesus requires. The cross means death to our own
self interests to promote the self interests of Jesus and others.
So in reality by Jesus telling this man to sell everything he had,
He was telling him to turn, or repent from his old life. Then by telling
the man to follow Him, Jesus was saying that from that time on, he had to
trust, or put His faith in Him and not his wealth, and especially, he
should not put his trust in obeying the Ten Commandments as a means of
inheriting eternal life.
When the rich man heard this "he was very sad". It would
be very hard for him to have to give up his riches. You and I would
probably feel the same sadness.
In verse 24 Jesus said, "how hard it is for the rich to enter
the Kingdom of God". Jesus doesnít say that a rich person canít
enter the Kingdom, only that it is hard to enter, because riches have such
a hold on people, maybe more than any other thing.
In verse 25 Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to go through
the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Godís Kingdom. There
has been debate over the years to just what the eye of a needle is. Some
say it was a very small door in the wall of a city. Some say it was a hole
at the end of a spear. Whatever this refers to is not really the important
point. The important point is that you cannot trust in riches and Jesus at
the same time. We spoke about this when Jesus said that you canít serve
God and money, for either you will hate one and love the other. You cannot
give yourself completely to two different things. This is only logical.
The obvious response to Jesusí statement was made by those
listening to Him when they said, "who then can be saved".
Whatever Jesusí analogy meant, it gave the impression that it was
impossible for a camel to go through an eye of a needle
Yet Jesus said that this may be impossible for man to do, but it is
possible with God. God can in fact save one with great worldly wealth.
Wealthy people still have to go through the same procedure of salvation as
anyone else, but with the aid of the Holy Spirit rich people can still be
saved, even though it is a hard thing for the rich.
In verse 28 Peter responded by saying that "we have left all to
follow you". In deed Peter and the others had left their fishing
business and followed Jesus who was now on His way to Jerusalem. Peter was
saying that maybe it was hard for a rich man to follow Jesus, but he and
others who were not so rich had actually given up their means of income to
be a disciple of Jesus.
Jesus did not deny what Peter said. I believe that Jesus understood
the sacrifice that Peter and the others made. They were real sacrifices.
So Jesus told them that if you give up things here on earth, even family,
you would receive more in this life and also in the next.
The comment on family is true. We as Christians are part of another
family, that is the family of God. We have many brothers and sisters in
the Lord that in many cases is closer to us than our natural family. And
even in our natural family, when all are true disciples, this brings a
closeness that merely the blood line cannot bring.
Jesus Again Predicts His Death (ch.
18:31 - 34)
In verse 31 we are once again reminded that Jesus is on his way to
Jerusalem. It seems that Jesus has taken His time to get to this point on
His journey, but from now on things will speed up. He took the Twelve
aside and explained to them once again what they should expect when they
get to Jerusalem.
The first thing that Jesus said is that "everything written by
the prophets about the Son of Man" will now be fulfilled. We need to
note that not everything written about Jesus is going to be fulfilled, but
everything about the "Son of Man" will be fulfilled. This means,
everything about the earthly Jesus is going to be fulfilled. There is
still more to be fulfilled about Jesus in the prophetic Scriptures Ė
example, His second return.
In verse 32 Jesus said that "He would be handed over to the
Gentiles". This in fact came true. The Jewish authorities did not
have the legal authority to try and execute Jesus. They had to allow the
Roman government to do that. How ironic. The enemy of the Jews had to kill
Jesus for them.
Then Jesus went on to say concerning what the Gentiles would do. He
said, "they will mock Him, insult Him, flog Him, and kill Him".
This must have been very confusing for the disciples to hear. How could
such a thing happen to such a great man, especially after seeing all of
the great things He had done to so many people. Why would anyone want to
Jesus went on to explain further that He would not stay dead. This
would even be harder for the Twelve to understand. Jesus told them that
"on the third day He would rise again".
In verse 34 Luke specifically tells us that the Twelve had no clue
what Jesus was talking about, but in fact "it was hidden from
them". Concerning the word "hiddení Luke does not explain how
or why these things were hidden. My guess is that, especially at that
moment of time, this understanding would have to come by revelation of the
Were these words then falling on deaf ears? No. The disciples would
remember these words when their fulfillment actually took place and help
them in their time of testing to really trust in their Saviour. Also they
are written on our behalf, giving further proof of the prophetic nature of
Jesus and the things He said. Jesus indeed was a prophet, the greatest
prophet of all times. What He said did come true.
A Blind Beggar Receives His Sight (ch.
18:35 - 42)
In this section Luke tells us that as Jesus was approaching Jericho
there was a blind beggar on the side of the road. When the blind man heard
the commotion from the crowd he asked those around him what was going on.
They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was approaching them. It is obvious
that Jesusí reputation had preceded him since the blind man knew who
The blind man called out, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on
me". It is interesting to note that different people viewed Jesus
differently. Some called Jesus Lord. Some called Him Master. Some called
Him rabbi and teacher. This man called Jesus the "Son of David",
in direct reference to His Messiahship.
Once again we also note that this blind man begged for mercy. He
approached Jesus from a spirit of humility as we all should at all times.
In our humanity there is nothing good within us compared to God and His
standards. We have no other posture to approach Jesus with than the
posture of humility. Pride will get you nowhere with Jesus.
In verse 39 those who were close by rebuked the blind man, telling
him to be quiet. Those rebuking the blind man must have thought that Jesus
had better things to do than to stop and pay attention to such a poor
beggar. This too is often the thinking of religious people today. The
church has more important things to do than to reach out to those less
fortunate in our society.
This rebuke did not stop the blind man for he called out to Jesus
once again in persistence. His persistence paid off because when Jesus got
close enough to hear him yelling He ordered someone to bring the blind man
to Him. Note the word "ordered". Jesus most likely heard the
rebukes coming from the crowd and might have been disgusted with those
doing the rebuking.
In verse 41 Jesus asked the blind man an interesting question. He
asked, "what do you want me to do for you"? I am sure that Jesus
knew what the blind man wanted from Him. It would not take a word of
knowledge for anyone to see that the blind man wanted to see. Yet Jesus
wanted the man to specifically ask to be healed. Up to this point the man
only asked for mercy and that mercy could have been given by Jesus in
This time the man replied by calling Jesus Lord. The blind man knew
in His heart that Jesus was a special man sent from God. He might have
even understood that Jesus was the Messiah. He therefore told Jesus that
he wanted to see.
Jesus had a simple response in verse 42, "receive your sight,
your faith has healed you". We donít know if Jesus touched the man.
As far as we know, Jesus did not cast a demon out of the man. He simply
said "receive your sight".
Jesus said that the man was healed because of his faith. What does
that mean? Does it mean that the blind man had great faith, and this great
faith got him healed. I donít see faith as a commodity that you can have
more or less of. Faith is simply trusting in someone or something. This
blind man just trusted that Jesus could heal him. That is all there is too
it. No "hyper faith". Just a little bit of trust.
The blind man immediately gave thanks to God and followed Jesus.
Even the crowd, and I assume those who rebuked the blind man praised God
for this miracle.
Again we remind ourselves that Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem and
He is getting closer. It appears that when He first began this trip to
Jerusalem He took His time, but as He gets closer to the city He has more
resolve to get there, and get there faster. The crowds are getting larger
as He gets nearer the city and they become more excited about Jesus
because of the miracles He is performing along the way, this being one
example. By the time Jesus gets to Jerusalem the crowd is very large and
very much on His side which really infuriated the Jewish leaders.
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