Read Luke 18
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The Little Children and Jesus
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.”
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time
31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”
34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.
A Blind Beggar Receives His Sight
35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.
42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
There is something sacred about opening up a copy of Scripture and seeing the words Jesus spoke in red. As students of the Word, we should pause and let these life-giving messages sink deeply into our hearts, being thankful they were preserved for us throughout history. Luke 18 opens with a couple of parables, relatable stories fraught with meaning Jesus used to explain the upside-down kingdom He would usher in. The story of the persistent widow exhorts believers to pray always and not become discouraged, regardless of circumstances: “Will not God grant justice to His elect who cry out to HIm day and night? Will He delay to help them?” (v. 7). The Parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee firmly warns of trusting in self and looking down on others, because “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (v. 4). The Pharisee remained in self-delusion, while the despised tax collector was forgiven by God. David Gurzik of Enduring Word Bible Commentary says, “Unless we know who God is 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. We gain nothing by coming to God in the lie of pride.”
Speaking of humility, Jesus used children as examples. Unlike the Pharisees, children have no hidden agendas, but possess the capacity to love and trust without inhibition. Jesus sternly warned, “I assure you, whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (v. 17). There is no room for pretense or pride, just simple childlike faith is required to receive Christ. Jesus warned that earthly treasures and trinkets would keep many from accepting HIm, but those willing to walk away from love of worldly ways and goods would “receive many times more in the present, and eternal life in the age to come” (v. 39).
Jesus was known for moving to, not away from, the brokenness in this world. He never shied away from the hard topics. On the way to Jerusalem, He intentionally prepared His disciples for what was about to happen as He would sacrifice His life, even though “they understood none of these things” (v. 34). He then restored the sight of a blind man, who persisted in faith and believed Jesus had the power to heal him. “Instantly he could see, and he began to follow HIm, glorifying God” (v. 43). Looking back at Luke 18, which character do you most identify with? The widow, tax collector, rich young ruler, disciple, or the blind man? Regardless, Jesus stands ready to receive you, just as you are. However, once you have encountered Him, it changes everything.
- Like the widow in the parable, do you exhibit a persistent faith that prevails in prayer? Where have you seen God’s justice displayed despite all odds?
- Do you hold tightly or loosely to the things of this world? Looking at your bank account, where do you invest most of your resources?
- How are you leveraging your life for the gospel and others? Are you willing to notice the most vulnerable among us and become an advocate for them?
By the Way
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)
Leave a Comment Below
Join the Team
Interested in writing for the Bible Reading Plan? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.