Luke 18 – Prayer, Humility and Discipleship
A. A parable about persistence in prayer.
1. (1) The purpose of the parable: that we might not lose heart in prayer.
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
a. That men always ought to pray: Man is created with a spiritual instinct (Ecclesiastes 3:11), so prayer often comes naturally. Yet obstacles come in the way of effective and constant prayer, so Jesus knew we needed to be both taught and encouraged always… to pray.
i. Jesus did not mean that we should always have our knees bent and eyes closed in prayer; but we must always be in what is sometimes called the spirit of prayer. Paul mentioned this idea in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 when he wrote, pray without ceasing. It’s hard to measure how much good such constant prayer would do, and how much bad it would keep us from.
b. And not lose heart: Often we fail in praying because we lose heart. We become discouraged, and then no longer pray as we should.
i. It is easy to lose heart in prayer because prayer is hard work that we too often approach lightly. In Colossians 4:12, Paul praised a man named Epaphras because he was always laboring fervently… in prayers. Paul knew that prayer was hard work that required fervent labor. Morrison tried to explain why prayer was difficult, because three parts of the human being are engaged in prayer: “There is the understanding, by which we work intelligently; there is the heart, but which we labour willingly, there is the will by which we labour doggedly.” (Morrison)
ii. It is easy to lose heart in prayer because the Devil hates prayer. If prayer were powerless, it would be easy.
iii. It is easy to lose heart in prayer because we are not always convinced of the reality of the power of prayer. Too often, prayer becomes a last resort instead of a first resource.
iv. Remember that Jesus lived a prayerful life, and He ever lives to pray for His people (Hebrews 7:25). We must therefore not lose heart in prayer.
· The woman of Canaan kept praying though she was first denied.
· Jacob refused to let go even when his leg was crippled.
· Rachel said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!”
2. (2-8) The parable of the widow and the unjust judge.
Saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’“ Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
a. A judge who did not fear God nor regard man: The judge was ungodly, both as a man and a judge. Yet in the end he answered the woman’s request. The only reason he gave her what she wanted was because the woman wouldn’t stop bothering him.
i. Barclay points out that this would not have been a Jewish judge, because disputes in the Jewish world were brought to the elders. “This judge was one of the paid magistrates appointed either by Herod or the Romans. Such judges were notorious.” (Barclay)
ii. When he complained the woman would weary me, it really means, “Stun me. A metaphor taken from boxers, who bruise each other.” (Clarke) “Although the word hypopiaze literally means ‘to give a black eye’ (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:27), the figurative rendering is preferable here.” (Pate)
b. Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her: The unjust judge only reluctantly answered the woman’s request. Jesus did not give this parable to say that God was like the unjust judge, but unlike him. God loves to answer our prayers, and He even helps us when we pray. God is on your side when you pray, not against you (as the unjust judge was against the widow).
i. The woman had to overcome the judge’s reluctance to help. We often feel that we must do the same when we pray – use our persistence to overcome God’s reluctance. This misses the point of the parable entirely. Jesus did not say that men always ought to pray and not lose heart because God is reluctant, but because He isn’t, and that is our encouragement to prayer.
ii. Sometimes it does seem to us that God is reluctant to answer our prayers. Yet the delays in prayer are not needed to change God, but to change us. Persistence in prayer brings a transforming element into our lives, building into us the character of God Himself. It is a way that God builds into us a heart that cares about things the same way He does. “Too many prayers are like boy’s runaway knocks, given, and then the giver is away before the door can be opened.” (Spurgeon)
iii. Both Jesus (Mark 14:39) and Paul (2 Corinthians 12:8) prayed repeatedly for the same thing. However, we must guard against a persistence of unbelief – repeating prayer with the attitude that God never heard us the first time.
iv. There are several contrasts between this judge and the God who hears prayer.
· The judge was unfair; God is fair.
· The judge had no personal interest in the widow; God loves and cares for those who petition Him.
· The judge answered the widow’s cry out of pure self-interest; God loves to bless His people for their good also.
c. Shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him: Jesus probably had in mind the prayers of persecuted believers, who long for justice and who cry out day and night for God to avenge them and deal with their persecutors.
i. Those in the fire of persecution need special grace to persevere and to not lose heart in prayer. They need to be assured that God is not like the unjust judge, so we should keep praying to the Lord who will resolve all things righteously.
ii. Our God is a righteous, wonderful Judge:
· We come to a judge of perfect, good character.
· We come to a judge who loves to care for His children.
· We come to a judge who is kind and gracious.
· We come to a judge who knows us.
· We come to this judge with an advocate, a friend who will plead our case before the judge.
· We come to the judge with promises to encourage us.
· We come to the judge with the right of constant access, to a judge who has a personal interest in our case.
d. When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? This ties Jesus’ thought to His words about His coming at the end of the previous chapter. Unless we know who God is (being not like the unjust judge) and unless we are people who pray without losing heart, we don’t yet have the kind of faith Jesus will look for when He returns.
B. Lessons on humility.
1. (9-14) A parable to rebuke the self-righteous.
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
a. To some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: The connection between those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and those who despised others is almost inevitable. If I credit myself for a supposed great and spiritual walk with God, then it is an easy thing to despise another for their supposed low and carnal walk with God.
b. Two men went up to the temple to pray: In this parable, both men prayed, but both men did not come to God the same way. The Pharisee went up to the temple to pray, but he did not pray. He spoke with himself, not with God.; he prayed thus with himself, and in his short prayer he repeated the word “I” five times.
i. It is entirely possible to address your words to God, but actually be praying to yourself, because your focus is on yourself, not on God. Your passion is for your agenda, not God’s. Your attitude is my will be done and not Thy will be done. The man was full of praise, but he rejoiced “not for who God was but rather for who he was!” (Pate)
c. God, I thank You that I am not like other men: In his (so-called) prayer, the Pharisee praised himself, and compared himself to other men. It isn’t hard to have such a high opinion of self when you compare yourself to other people; it often is not difficult to find someone worse.
i. Even as this tax collector: “The demonstrative pronoun ‘this’ (houtos) pejoratively distinguishes the Pharisee from his counterpart in the temple.” (Pate)
ii. One ancient rabbi (Rabbi Simeon, the son of Jochai) was an example of this kind of Pharisaical pride when he said: “If there were only thirty righteous persons in the world, I and my son would make two of them; but if there were but twenty, I and my son would be of the number; and if there were but ten, I and my son would be of the number; and if there were but five, I and my son would be of the five; and if there were but two, I and my son would be those two; and if there were but one, myself should be that one.” (Clarke)
iii. I fast twice a week: In those days many Jews fasted on the second and fifth days of each week, because they believed that Moses went up on Mount Sinai to receive the law on the fifth day of the week, and that he came down with the law on the second day of the week. “Those who wished to gain special merit fasted also on Mondays and Thursdays. It is noteworthy that these were the market days when Jerusalem was full of country people. Those who fasted whitened their faces and appeared in disheveled clothes, and those days gave their piety the biggest possible audience.” (Barclay)
iv. “I am not as this publican, No, for thou art worse; yea for this, because thou thinkest thee better.” (Trapp)
v. “What the Pharisee said about himself was true. His trouble was not that he was not far enough along the road, but that he was on the wrong road altogether.” (Morris)
d. The tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” The Pharisee relied on his own power and deeds before God, but the tax collector relied on the mercy and compassion of God. He recognized that he was a sinner who needed the mercy of God.
i. We can imagine the Pharisee praying with eloquent words and flowing, spiritual style; anyone who heard him pray would say that he was a spiritual man. In contrast, we imagine the tax collector praying awkwardly, with halting phrases and fear; but his prayer pleased God.
ii. But beat his breast: The idea behind this was that one was so aware of their sin and heart corruption that he hit at his own heart as a punishment. According to Morris, the verb tense of beat his breast describes a continual action; he kept on doing it. “The original does not say that he smote upon his breast once, but he smote and smote again. It was a continuous act. He seemed to say – Oh, this wicked heart! He would smite it. Again and again he expressed his intense grief by this Oriental gesture, for he did not know how else to set forth his sorrow.” (Spurgeon)
iii. The Pharisee thought he was not like other men; that he was better than them. The tax collector also thought that he was not like other men; that he was worse than them. “He actually prayed, ‘O God be merciful to me – the sinner,’ as if he was not merely a sinner, but the sinner par excellence.” (Barclay) “If there was not another sinner in the world, he was one; and in a world of sinners he was a prominent offender – the sinner of sinners. Emphatically he applies to himself the guilty name.” (Spurgeon)
iv. The ancient Greek word translated be merciful is hilaskomai; it is actually the word for an atoning sacrifice. The fullest sense of what the tax collector said was, “God, be merciful to me through Your atoning sacrifice for sins, because I am a sinner.” The only other place this word is used in the New Testament is in Hebrews 2:17, where it is translated propitiation.
v. “In the original Greek the words are even fewer than in the English. Oh, that men would learn to pray with less of language and more of meaning! What great things are packed away in this short petition! God, mercy, sin, the propitiation, and forgiveness.” (Spurgeon)
e. This man went down to his house justified rather than the other: The justification of the tax collector was immediate. He humbly came to God on the basis of His atoning sacrifice and was justified. He didn’t earn his justification, and he didn’t have a probationary period; he was simply justified.
i. He was justified because as a sinner, he humbly prayed for mercy, and mercy in the sense of atoning sacrifice. He prayed, “O God, be satisfied with the atoning sacrifice, and forgive me.”
· He didn’t say, “God, be merciful to me, I’m not a Pharisee.”
· He didn’t say, “God, be merciful to me, a repentant sinner.”
· He didn’t say, “God, be merciful to me, a praying sinner.”
· He didn’t say, “God, be merciful to me – I’m only human.”
· He didn’t say, “God, be merciful to me, I’ll try to do better.”
· He simply prayed, praying body, soul, and spirit, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”
f. Everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted: Essentially, the Pharisee saw prayer and his spiritual life as a way to be exalted, but the tax collector approached God in humility.
i. True humbleness is simply seeing things the way they are. The Pharisee saw himself as something great when he wasn’t, and the tax collector saw himself as a sinner needing God’s mercy, which he was.
ii. We gain nothing by coming to God in the lie of pride. The principle God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble is so important God repeated it three times (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).
2. (15-17) Jesus uses children as examples of humility.
Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
a. The also brought infants to Him that He might touch them: Children love to come to Jesus, and it says something about our Savior that children loved Him and that He loved children. Jesus was not a mean, sour man because children don’t love mean, sour people.
i. “It was the custom for mothers to bring their children to some distinguished Rabbi on the first birthday that he might bless them.” (Barclay)
b. That He might touch them: Jesus knew that these infants, though they did not understand speech or Jesus’ eloquent teaching, could respond to a touch. Jesus knows how to communicate in the way we need.
i. Matthew 19:13 says specifically that He might put His hands on them and pray. With this, Jesus blessed the children. The laying on of hands is used Biblically as a way to bestow blessing on another (Acts 6:6, Acts 8:17, Acts 9:17, 1 Timothy 5:22, 2 Timothy 1:6).
ii. “He did not baptize them, but he did bless them.” (Spurgeon)
c. Let the little children come to Me: Because children love to come to Jesus, we should never block the way – or fail to provide them a way. We know more about Jesus than the women of Judea did; so there is no good reason for us to keep our children from Jesus.
d. For of such is the kingdom of God: Children receive the blessing of Jesus without trying to make themselves worthy of it, or pretending they don’t need it. We need to receive God’s blessings the same way.
i. “Not only did Jesus welcome these little human beings as members of the kingdom of God; He also extolled them as model citizens of the same, because of their capacity to trust and love.” (Pate)
C. Riches and true discipleship.
1. (18-19) A rich young ruler comes to Jesus.
Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.”
a. Now a certain ruler: This man is commonly known as the rich young ruler, because he is described as a ruler (Luke 18:18), as rich (Luke 18:23), and as young (Matthew 19:22). We don’t know if his authority was in the world of politics or in the world of religion.
b. Good Teacher: This was an impressive and perhaps surprising way to address Jesus. “Good Teacher” was a title never applied to other rabbis in Jesus’ day, because it implied being without sin and complete goodness. Jesus, and everyone else, recognized that Good Teacher was a unique title.
i. “There is no instance in the whole Talmud of a rabbi being addressed as ‘Good Master’” (Plummer, cited in Geldenhuys). They insisted on calling God alone “good.”
c. What good thing shall I do to inherit eternal life? This question demonstrates that this man, like all people by nature, had an orientation towards earning eternal life. He wanted to know what good work or noble deed he should do to inherit eternal life.
d. Why do you call Me good? In this, Jesus did not deny His own goodness. Instead, He asked the man, “Do you understand what you are saying when you call Me good? Because no one is good but One, that is, God.”
i. It was as if Jesus said, “You come to Me asking about what good thing you can do to inherit eternal life; but what do you really know about goodness?” “The argument is clear: either Jesus was good, or he ought not to have called him good; but as there is none good but God, Jesus who is good must be God.” (Spurgeon)
ii. We might say that the ruler did not really know who Jesus was. If he did, he would humble himself as the tax collector did in the story Jesus told earlier in the chapter (Luke 18:10-14). The following verses show that the ruler also did not really know who he was.
2. (20-21) Jesus asks the ruler about his life.
“You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’“ And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
a. You know the commandments: This ruler was an educated Jew of his day, so of course he knew the commandments. Jesus could appeal to the man on this common knowledge.
i. Modern men and women may not have the name knowledge and exact agreement with the commandments as Jesus referred to them here. Yet in general they agree with them, because God also speaks to men through creation and conscience (Romans 1:19-20, 2:14-15).
ii. Though many people today know the commandments either through instruction or intuition, far fewer people are interested in the basic question, how may I inherit eternal life?
b. You shall not murder: Jesus asked the man about the commandments relevant to man’s relation to man. In response, the young man claimed, “All these things I have kept from my youth,” thus claiming to fulfill all of God’s commands regarding how we must treat other people.
c. All these things I have kept from my youth: It is fair to ask if this man really had kept these commandments. It is likely that he actually did keep them in a way that made him righteous in the eyes of men, in the sense that Paul could say concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless in Philippians 3:6. But he certainly did not keep them in the full and perfect sense in which Jesus spoke of in the Sermon on the Mount.
i. “The time span involved in the ruler’s mind may have begun with his bar mitzvah (‘son of the Law’), the time when a youth became an adult at the age of thirteen, and therefore obligated to fulfill the Mosaic Law.” (Pate)
3. (22-23) Jesus instructs the ruler.
So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.
a. So when Jesus heard these things: Jesus spoke the following to this one man, in light of who the man was and what he said. This was a specific word for a specific man, yet in principle it has application for all.
i. Mark’s account adds something here. Mark wrote: Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him (Mark 10:21). The response of Jesus to this man was said in love – no doubt, because Jesus perceived that he was misguided and empty. One might say that this man had climbed to the top of the ladder of success, only to find his ladder leaned against the wrong building.
b. You still lack one thing: Though the man had everything – riches, an outwardly righteous life, respect, and prestige, Jesus could still say to him, “You still lack one thing.” The man had everything but knew that he did not have eternal life – so he really had nothing.
c. You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me: Instead of challenging the man’s fulfillment of the law (which Jesus had every right to do), Jesus pointed him to what is commonly called the first table of the law – the laws having to do with our relationship with God. Jesus challenged him to put God first; to fulfill the law to love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:5).
i. In saying, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me,” Jesus challenged the man to love God more than money and material things. The man failed this challenge. Essentially, this man was an idolater: he loved money and material things more than God. This shows than both tables of the law will test men.
ii. Jesus asked the ruler to give up his money because He could see money was an idol. He asked him to give it to the poor because He could see that he didn’t love others the way should.
d. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me: The call to forsake everything and follow Jesus is a call to put God first in all things. It is full obedience to the first table of the law, which dealt with a man’s relation to God.
i. We may make two mistakes here. The one is to believe this applies to everyone, when Jesus never made this a general command to all who would follow Him, but especially to this one rich man whose riches were clearly an obstacle to his discipleship. Instead, many rich people can do more good in the world by continuing to make money and using those resources for the glory of God and the good of others. The second mistake is to believe this applies to no one, when there are clearly those today for whom the best thing they could do for themselves spiritually is to radically forsake the materialism that is ruining them. Francis of Assisi was a notable one who heard Jesus speak these words to him, and gave away all he had to follow Jesus.
ii. Yet we notice that Jesus simply called this man to be His disciple, in saying, “Follow Me.” He used similar language in calling many of His disciples (Matthew 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; Mark 2:14). Jesus simply called this man to be His follower; but for this man it meant leaving behind the riches he had set his heart upon.
iii. “Think not, therefore, as many do, that there is no other hell but poverty, no better heaven than abundance.” (Trapp)
e. He became very sorrowful, for he was very rich: The other gospels note that the man went away (Matthew 19:22, Mark 10:22). Luke noticed his expression, his emotional response: very sorrowful. When he heard Jesus’ radical call to discipleship he said, I can’t do that. I can’t make that sacrifice. I guess I’m going to hell.
i. Very sorrowful and very rich is a tragic combination, yet common enough in those who make an idol out of riches.
ii. The principle remains: God may challenge and require an individual to give something up for the sake of His kingdom that He still allows to someone else. There are many who perish because they will not forsake what God tells them to.
iii. Very sorrowful, for he was very rich: “And what were these in comparison of peace of conscience, and mental rest? Besides, he had unequivocal proof that these contributed nothing to his comfort, for he is now miserable even while he possesses them! And so will every soul be, who puts worldly goods in the place of the supreme God.” (Clarke)
4. (24-27) The problem of riches.
And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
a. When Jesus saw: Jesus didn’t change the demands of discipleship when the rich man walked away. He did use the man’s sorrow as an occasion to teach His disciples and all who would hear.
b. How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! Riches are a problem because they tend to make us satisfied with this life, instead of longing for the age to come. As well, sometimes riches are sought at the expense of seeking God.
i. Clearly Jesus said that riches are an obstacle to the kingdom of God. We usually only think of poverty as a problem. Jesus told us that riches may present a much more serious problem.
ii. We often excuse ourselves from what Jesus said here because we don’t consider ourselves rich. Yet very few among us would not be considered richer than this rich young ruler was.
c. For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God: With this humorous image, Jesus illustrated the difficulty riches present to entering the kingdom of God. We immediately think of this as being impossible.
i. “Attempts have been made to explain Jesus’ words about the camel and the eye of a needle in terms of a camel shuffling through a small postern gate, or by reading kamilon ‘cable’ for kamelon ‘camel’. Such ‘explanations’ are misguided. They miss the point that Jesus is using a humourous illustration.” (Morris)
ii. “Quite often the rabbis talked of an elephant trying to get through the eye of a needle as a picture of something fantastically impossible.” (Barclay) Perhaps Jesus took this well-known proverb and softened it a bit from it’s common telling. A camel is smaller than an elephant, though obviously bigger than the eye of a needle.
d. Who then can be saved? The response from those who heard this is true to human nature. We also find it hard to see how riches can hinder us from the kingdom of God. We think only of the blessing and good that riches might bring.
i. They had probably hoped that their following of Jesus would make them rich and influential, and prominent leaders in His Messianic government. “In a culture where wealth was regarded as a sign of God’s blessing and where a religious teacher was therefore expected to be at least moderately wealthy, the lifestyle of Jesus and his disciples was conspicuously different.” (France)
ii. We remember what Paul said to Timothy: But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
e. The things which are impossible with men are possible with God: It is possible for the rich man to be saved. God’s grace is enough to save the rich man; we have the examples of people like Zacchaeus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Barnabas. These all were rich men still able to put God first, not their riches.
i. “Jesus is not saying that all poor people and none of the wealthy enter the kingdom of heaven. That would exclude Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to say nothing of David, Solomon, and Joseph of Arimathea.” (Carson)
ii. “Man is ever attempting to personally and socially enter into the Kingdom of God by endeavours with men, and this never succeeds. With God the thing is possible.” (Morgan)
5. (28-30) Our reward and the solution to the problem of riches.
Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
a. See, we have left all and followed You: In contrast to the rich young ruler, the disciples did give up everything (or most everything) to follow Jesus. Peter wondered what reward would be promised to them who obeyed where the rich young ruler disobeyed.
i. There is a special honor for these disciples. They have a special place in judgment, probably in the sense of administration in the millennial Kingdom. As well, the apostles had the honor of helping to provide a singular foundation for the church (Ephesians 2:20), and have a special tribute in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:14).
b. Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left: The twelve may have their unique reward, but there will be universal honor for all who sacrifice for Jesus’ sake. Whatever has been given up for Him will be returned to us many times over, both in this present age, and in the age to come eternal life.
i. Many times over is obviously not meant in a material sense. Jesus did not promise a hundred mothers and a hundred wives. Many times over is literal, but spiritual in its fulfillment.
ii. Matthew Poole described some of the ways we get our many times over:
· Joy in the Holy Ghost, peace of conscience, the sense of God’s love.
· Contentment. They shall have a contented frame of mind.
· God will stir up the hearts of others to supply their wants, and that supply shall be sweeter to them than their abundance was.
· God sometimes repays them in this life, as he restored Job after his trial to greater riches.
iii. The principle stands: God will be a debtor to no man. It is impossible for us to give more to God than He gives back to us. Having and keeping the heart of a giver will keep you from being corrupted by riches. We all must do what Psalm 62:10 says: If riches increase, do not set your heart on them, and giving is key.
6. (31-34) Jesus again announces His coming fate in Jerusalem.
Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.
a. Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem: This was not a surprise to the disciples. Even if Jesus had not specifically told them, their movement south from Galilee at about the time of the Passover feast made it easy to understand that Jesus and the disciples would be in Jerusalem for Passover.
b. All things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished: In saying “all things,” Jesus emphasized the aspects concerning the Son of Man that were commonly neglected and overlooked by the Jewish people of His day – that the Messiah would suffer and die as a sin-bearing servant.
c. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon: Jesus reminded His disciples of His coming suffering and death, emphasizing the shame and humiliation He would bear.
i. Will be delivered: This speaks of the betrayal of Jesus; one of His own disciples would deliver Him over to the religious leaders for money. Certainly, Jesus did not arrange His own betrayal, yet He confidently said it would happen.
ii. Will be mocked and insulted and spit upon: Jesus predicted the humiliation and mocking associated with His coming agony – which on a human level He could not arrange. “They plucked his hair, they smote his cheeks, they spat in his face. Mockery could go no farther. It was cruel, cutting, cursed scorn.” (Spurgeon)
iii. They will scourge Him: This sharp and brutal whipping was a particular agony and humiliation to endure.
iv. And kill Him: The suffering would not end with humiliation and a severe beating. It would continue to the death of Jesus.
v. Taken together, the entire picture is one of great suffering.
· Suffering from the disloyalty of friends.
· Suffering from injustice.
· Suffering from deliberate insult and humiliation.
· Suffering from physical pain.
· Suffering from great humiliation and degradation.
d. And the third day He will rise again: Jesus triumphantly told His disciples that the story would not end with His suffering, humiliation, and death. He would rise again in resurrected glory.
i. This was something that Jesus had no apparent control over. Yet He confidently announced to His disciples that this would happen.
e. They understood none of these things: They heard the words right from the mouth of Jesus, and saw the expression on His face, and still did not understand – because this saying was hidden from them. They could not see or understand the truth until God opened their eyes.
i. Perhaps God did not open their eyes to this truth because they couldn’t handle it yet. If they really knew what would happen to Jesus, and how different it would be than their own conceptions of riding the coattails of the Messiah to glory, they might have given up right then and there.
ii. “Only at a somewhat later time… do the Jewish rabbis appear to have taught that there would be a suffering Messiah (‘Messiah ben Joseph’) as well as a triumphant Messiah (‘Messiah ben Judah’).” (Geldenhuys)
7. (35-39) In Jericho, a blind man begs for the attention of Jesus.
Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
a. As He was coming near Jericho: One of the most traveled roads from Galilee to Jerusalem went through Jericho. When Jesus came to this ancient city, He was not far from Jerusalem and the fate waiting for Him there. Mark 10:46 says the blind man’s name was Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus.
i. The blind man couldn’t see Jesus, but he could hear Him – so, hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. Instead of giving up because he could not seek Jesus by sight, he sought Jesus the way that he could – by hearing.
ii. In the Gospels of Matthew (20:29) and Mark (10:46), this miracle is said to happen as Jesus and the crowd were leaving Jericho. The seeming contradiction in Luke is understood in the light of archaeology, which has discovered that by Jesus’ time there were two cities of Jericho: the ancient city, and the newer Roman city. The miracle happened in-between these two cities of Jericho, leaving one and entering the other.
b. He cried out all the more: The man heard Jesus was passing by, and was desperate to get Jesus’ attention. He would not be embarrassed, and he would not be shut up. He knew that Jesus was the Son of David, meaning the Messiah, and kept shouting for His mercy.
i. William Barclay points out there is a difference in the ancient Greek words used to describe the action of the blind man in Luke 18:38 and 18:39, and show the blind man’s great desperation.
· Cried out (Luke 18:38): “An ordinary loud shout to attract attention.”
· Cried out all the more (Luke 18:39): “The instinctive cry of ungovernable emotion, a scream, an almost animal cry.”
c. Have mercy on me: The blind man knew he needed mercy from Jesus. He didn’t think that God owed him; he wanted mercy.
8. (40-43) Jesus heals the blind man.
So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
a. Jesus stood still: Nothing could stop Him on His journey to Jerusalem; yet He stood still to answer a persistent plea for mercy.
b. What do you want Me to do for you? This is a wonderful, simple question God has not stopped asking. Sometimes we go without when God would want to give us something simply because we will not answer this question, and we do not have because we do not ask (James 4:2).
i. Jesus asked this question with full knowledge that this man was blind. He knew what he needed and what he wanted, but God still wants us to tell Him our needs as a constant expression of our trust and reliance on Him.
c. Lord, that I may receive my sight: The blind man knew how to submit to Jesus – he called Jesus “Lord” and asked to receive his sight.
e. Receive your sight; your faith has made you well: Jesus granted the man’s request and healed him of blindness. Jesus connected the man’s healing with the man’s faith. There were many notable aspects of this man’s faith that made him ready to receive from Jesus.
· It was faith that wanted Jesus.
· It was faith that knew who He was.
· It was faith that knew what he deserved from Jesus.
· It was faith that could tell Jesus what it wanted.
· It was faith that could call Jesus Lord.
f. He received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God: The blind man, now healed and saved, began to follow Jesus. The way of Jesus became his way. This was especially significant considering that Jesus was on His way towards Jerusalem to die.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission