Luke Chapter Eighteen
v.1 “AND HE SPAKE A PARABLE UNTO THEM to this end, THAT MEN OUGHT ALWAYS TO PRAY, AND NOT TO FAINT;”
Only Luke records this parable that Jesus taught. Men ought always to pray and not to faint under the constant bombardment of sin is good advice in any age or under any circumstances. Jesus uses the example of a destitute widow here to teach the value of persistence in prayer. Paul gives these simple instructions to the Roman brethren:
Romans “REJOICING IN HOPE; PATIENT IN TRIBULATION; CONTINUING STEADFASTLY IN PRAYER;”
And even more simply to the brethren in the city of
I Thessalonians “PRAY WITHOUT CEASING”
v.2 “SAYING, THERE WAS IN A CITY A JUDGE, WHICH FEARED NOT GOD, NEITHER REGARDED MAN.”
Mosaic Law each city of
Deuteronomy “JUDGES AND OFFICERS SHALT THOU MAKE THEE IN ALL THY GATES, WHICH THE LORD THY GOD GIVETH THEE, THROUGHOUT THY TRIBES: AND THEY SHALL JUDGE THE PEOPLE WITH JUST JUDGMENT.”
This particular judge to which Jesus refers in this parable was just the opposite of what the Law demanded. He was a man without principles, had no awe or fear of God and had no mercy in his heart or respect for man.
v.3 “AND THERE WAS A WIDOW IN THAT CITY; AND SHE CAME UNTO HIM, SAYING, AVENGE ME OF MINE ADVERSARY.”
Most times widows, without their husbands to protect them, are at the mercy of far too many people, even in our day. This widow was helpless, desolate and had an adversary who mistreated her, oppressed her, from whom she needed relief. She had no power, money or influence, so she had no leverage or means to provide an incentive for this man to help her.
v.4-5 “AND HE WOULD NOT FOR A WHILE, BUT AFTERWARD HE SAID WITHIN HIMSELF, THOUGH I FEAR NOT GOD, NOR REGARD MAN; YET BECAUSE THIS WIDOW TROUBLETH ME, I WILL AVENGE HER, LEST BY HER CONTINUED COMING SHE WEARY ME.”
This judge refused to provide this widow justice; he had no mercy for her situation, he refused to hear her troubles. But finally he came to a conclusion; she is persistent, like the drip of a water faucet, there is no end to her petitions; she may even have come to him daily. So, totally for the wrong reasons, to serve his own selfish needs, he finally decides to grant her petition in order to get rid of her.
v.6-7 “AND THE LORD SAID, HEAR WHAT THE UNJUST JUDGE SAITH. AND SHALL NOT GOD AVENGE HIS OWN ELECT, WHICH CRY DAY AND NIGHT UNTO HIM, THOUGH HE BEAR LONG WITH THEM?”
Jesus asks his hearers to think about what the unrighteous judge says; his motives, his selfishness and why he finally decides to help this widow. Then he asks the loaded question. When God’s people cry out to him like those John writes about:
Revelation “AND THEY CRIED WITH A LOUD VOICE, SAYING, HOW LONG, O LORD, HOLY AND TRUE, DOST THOU NOT JUDGE AND AVENGE OUR BLOOD ON THEM THAT DWELL ON THE EARTH?”
Will God not provide justice for his children when oppressed? If even an unrighteous judge will avenge a poor widow because of her persistence, how much more will God, in all His righteous being, react when his children cry out to him because of the abuse and persecution of men? And then Jesus makes the point he intended all along:
v.8 “I TELL YOU THAT HE WILL AVENGE THEM SPEEDILY. NEVERTHELESS WHEN THE SON OF MAN COMETH, SHALL HE FIND FAITH ON THE EARTH?”
God will avenge his children and will avenge them “SPEEDILY”, quickly, forcefully and as only a righteous God can. As the Hebrew writer tells us:
Hebrews “FOR YET A LITTLE WHILE, AND HE THAT SHALL COME WILL COME, AND WILL NOT TARRY.”
Though speedily to God may seem like a long time to us. But Jesus asks another question here. “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” God does things in his own good time, in His own way. How long will our faith last under persecution? How long will our faith last even without persecution? Or do we grow weary in well doing, impatient that our efforts in a dying world bear little fruit? Paul tells us:
Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
v.9 “AND HE SPAKE THIS PARABLE UNTO CERTAIN WHICH TRUSTED IN THEMSELVES THAT THEY WERE RIGHTEOUS AND DESPISED OTHERS:”
Jesus now teaches a lesson in humility, a lesson in what our attitude should be toward an all powerful God. There were men in that day, and they still exist today, who despise anyone that they feel are inferior to themselves. They are like the lawyer in an earlier study:
“BUT HE, WILLING TO JUSTIFY HIMSELF, SAID UNTO JESUS, AND WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?” Luke 10:29
The comparison that Jesus makes here is directed at the Pharisee’s, scribes and lawyers who literally thought themselves justified before God because they were descendants of Abraham. They thought that as God’s chosen people that they were righteous before God regardless of what they did and should merit God’s greatest blessings. At the same time they looked down on all other men who were not as blessed or as fortunate as they thought they were; as being sinners, outcasts, people who did not amount to anything, were worthless. Unfortunately I’ve seen the same mindset in times past among some who profess to be my brothers and sisters in Christ.
v.10 “TWO MEN WENT UP INTO THE TEMPLE TO PRAY; THE ONE A PHARISEE, AND THE OTHER A PUBLICAN.”
Jesus sets the stage; two men went to the temple to pray; one a self-righteous Pharisee, perhaps a lawyer, perhaps even a member of the council, we’re not told who he is, just how he thinks. The other is an employee of the Roman occupation and totally despised by the Jewish rulers.
v.11-12 “THE PHARISEE STOOD AND PRAYED THUS WITH HIMSELF, GOD, I THANK THEE, THAT I AM NOT AS OTHER MEN are, EXTORTIONERS, UNJUST, ADULTERERS, OR EVEN AS THIS PUBLICAN. I FAST TWICE A WEEK, I GAVE TITHES OF ALL THAT I POSSESS.”
The English word stood doesn’t do justice to the original language here. If he just stood to pray there would be no issue, no problem as standing is a perfectly acceptable position from which to pray. But this man struck a pose; he may have even raised his hands and eyes toward heaven. He used a posture that would guarantee that he would be seen of men. He has no reverence for the Almighty God, he shows no humility, he shows no piety. And what does he say? “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men…” He’s so full of himself that most people couldn’t stand him and neither can God. He’s like the Jews to whom Isaiah wrote:
Isaiah “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.”
v.13 “13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”
What a difference! The publican stands “afar off”; he may have even found a niche or corner where he could be alone with his God. He didn’t pose to be seen of men, he’s humble, he’s repentant, he bows his head before God in humble worship, he grieves because of his weaknesses, his sins and begs God’s mercy with his confession. And what does Jesus say about him?
v.14 “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
This humble sinner went down to his house justified before God, the Pharisee did not. The publican knew he was a sinner, confessed his sin and begged God’s mercy; he understands God’s promise made through Isaiah:
Isaiah 66:2 “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”
Jesus then repeats words that we find also in Matthew 23:12. We would do well to hear these words and those written by Peter:
I Peter 5:5-7 “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
v.15 “15And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.”
In addition to those that needed to be healed, infants, or little children were brought to Jesus; children small enough that they had to be brought or carried. Luke says so he could touch them, Matthew (Matthew 19:13) says so he could “PUT his HANDS ON THEM, AND PRAY:” Perhaps because of their estimation of his importance, perhaps because they needed to get on with their journey, we’re not told why, simply that Jesus disciples rebuked these parents for bringing their children to him.
v.16. “16But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
Jesus first rebukes his disciples and then he gives them another lesson in humility. First of all, he would not deny the parents of these children, they sought his blessing. Everyone and anyone can and should come to Jesus Christ. Secondly he tells us that those that are “SUCH” that make up “THE KINGDOM OF GOD” are those who have a love and attitude toward the Father that a little child would have toward his father. We remember the earlier teaching by Jesus:
Matthew 18:3 “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be
converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the
v.17 “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”
v.18 “18And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
A certain ruler, a specific person comes to Jesus; Mark says that he ran to Jesus and kneeled to him. He has a very important question, one that we ourselves have probably asked sometime in our lives. What do I need to do in order to inherit or possess eternal or everlasting life, the complete and everlasting happiness that can only be found in the abode of the saved, heaven?
v.19 “19And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.”
First Jesus asks this man a question. Why do you call me good? There are none that are inherently, perfectly good except God, and, of course, his Son and the Holy Spirit. Even the angels sinned. It would seem as though this man is asking what he can do to earn or gain this inheritance in some way, which we know cannot be done; it is given only by the grace and mercy of God.
v.20-21 “20Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. 21And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.”
Jesus firsts tells this man that he should keep the Mosaic Law and names part of the Decalogue found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The man responds that he’s done these things since he was a youth about the age today that we would consider a person accountable for his actions and his sins. But Jesus knows this man’s mind; he also knows what his weakness is.
v.22 “22Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.”
Jesus acknowledges without correction that the man is telling him the truth about his faithful obedience to the Mosaic Law, God’s covenant at that time. But then he tells him he still needs to do one more thing; he needs to divorce himself from the love of his life, his money. This would make him as perfect as would be possible under the old law. Get rid of all your material wealth? Why?
I Timothy 6:17-19 “17Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
v.23 “23And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.”
The man asked Jesus a simple straightforward question, Jesus gave him an honest straightforward answer, but it wasn’t what the man wanted to hear. We can visualize his mouth falling open, the look of consternation, perhaps even a look of utter horror on his face; because he was very rich and his earthly possessions were very dear to him, more precious to him than eternal life or everlasting happiness.
v.24 “24And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful,
he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”
When Jesus sees this man’s reaction he also is deeply sorrowful. He knows that this man has chosen. He has rejected Jesus and chosen eternal damnation in hell’s fire rather than give up his earthly riches. Jesus then makes the comment to those surrounding him “HOW HARDLY SHALL THEY THAT HAVE RICHES ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.” The wise man tells us:
Proverbs “HE THAT TRUSTETH IN HIS RICHES SHALL FALL BUT THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL FLOURISH AS A BRANCH.”
v.25 “25For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
I have heard a lot of discussion about what this verse really means but I think that men have made too much of what Jesus says. What Jesus is saying is that it is impossible for someone who trusts in his riches to place himself totally and completely subservient to God. It’s not a sin to be rich; Job, Abraham, Isaac, David, Soloman, and a multitude of others in scripture were rich but had an attitude toward that wealth that kept them from being condemned by God. We have a parallel in the words of the prophet:
Jeremiah “23Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”
It would be just as possible for a man who trusts in his riches rather than God, or a man that is totally accustomed to doing evil to do good as it would be for an Ethiopian, who is black, to change the color of his skin or a leopard to change his spots.
v.26 “26And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved?”
Jesus’ disciples still don’t understand, they’ve got a case of “poor me’s”. If men who are rich and powerful, men that are so much more able and important than poor me can’t be saved, then who can? They don’t understand the mercy, grace and power of God and perhaps some of my brethren don’t either. After all God’s values and men’s values are not the same:
Isaiah 55:8 “8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”
v.27 “27And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
For now, Jesus simply reminds them that with God all things are possible, in due time they will understand. It is God who saves. It is God who provides his grace and mercy. The power of the gospel can break down the spirit of rebellion, purify the heart, and provide the way of salvation to any man who will allow it, even those who are rich in this world’s goods. Neither they nor we can save ourselves; but we all can be the kind of people that God will save.
v.28 “28Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.”
Peter understands what Jesus has just taught and makes the simple statement that they, he and all of the apostles, have indeed left all that they had and followed Christ and will continue to do so. Jesus responds to Peter’s observation:
v.29-30 “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, 30Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.”
Jesus gives Peter and the others an assurance. Those that must leave everything they possess in this world in order to serve God acceptably will be richly rewarded; both in this world and in the world to come. In this world the peace, happiness and joy even in the face of adversity that comes with being a child of God in the world to come life everlasting with God in heaven.
v.31 “31Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.”
Jesus now takes the twelve and
starts to teach them what must happen next.
He sets himself to go to
Psalms 22:1 “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME? why are thou so FAR FROM HELPING ME, and from THE WORDS OF MY ROARING?”
v.32-33 “For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.”
Jesus warns his disciples where he is going and what is to happen. He would be betrayed, tried illegally, condemned to death illegally, delivered to the Gentiles, Pilate and his Roman soldiers, beaten within an inch of his life and finally crucified. Then he would rise from the dead again on the third day.
v.34 “34And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”
The twelve are oblivious to what is going to happen. They do not understand any of these things that Jesus is telling them. The word used is “HID” probably simply because the Holy Spirit has not yet revealed unto the “ALL TRUTH”. At this point, as we can study in the other gospel accounts, they are still looking for him to establish an earthly kingdom and even arguing over who would be greatest in it.
v.35 “And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:”
As we have commented several times,
Jesus has been teaching and preaching in the region of Perea, east of the
v.36-37 “36And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked
what it meant. 37And they told him, that Jesus of
This blind man hears this great group of people passing him by, far more people than apparently would be a normal occurrence and asks what is going on. What is creating this extraordinarily large group of people? He is told that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by and he knows who Jesus is.
v.38-39 “And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”
So this blind beggar creates an uproar. He knows that Jesus is the Son of David promised by prophecy as the Messiah. He knows that Jesus can heal him and begs for Jesus to have mercy on him. The crowd tries to get him to hush; after all he’s just an old blind beggar, not worth much, just a nuisance that tries to pry a few hard-earned shekels from them. But he refuses and continues his cries.
v.40-41 “40And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, 41Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.”
But Jesus hears him, stops and commands that the beggar be brought to him. When he comes into his presence Jesus asks, what do you want me to do to you? What do you want from me? Perhaps he wants to see just how much faith this man has and there doesn’t appear that there is even a tone of kindness in his voice, we don’t know. But the blind man knows what he wants and he knows that Jesus has the power to provide it to him. He wants his sight, he wants to be able to see, perhaps for the first time in his life, we don’t know.
v.42-43 “And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. 43And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.”
Jesus is just and prompt and straightforward in his response as the blind man was in his request. He is healed and follows Jesus praising and glorifying God and all the people in the multitude also praise God because of the blind man being healed.