About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

Home Page

Chapter 18

Previous Section - Chapter 17

Next Section - Chapter 19

ch. 18:1-9  ch. 18:9-14   ch. 18:15-17

ch. 18:18-30      ch. 18:31-34    

ch. 18:35-42

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 - 17)

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 disposed.

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 kill Him?

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 Spirit.

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 Jesus was.

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 various ways.

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.

Next Section - Chapter 19

Previous Section - Chapter 17

Home Page