A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF LUKE
A Discussion with a Seeker
Luke 18 SCC 7/4/16
GOD DECLARES THAT JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL WHEN FACING TROUBLE
Do not grow weary in making this request 1
Luke introduces this parable by saying Jesus gave this to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart. So what makes prayer necessary, is that it keeps us from being discouraged. I become discouraged when I no longer have hope. So I pray in order to have hope.
Persistence wears down resistance 2-5
Interestingly, God is represented by the judge who did not fear God nor respect man but helped the woman because of her continual persistence. The judge has no compassion. The widow is helpless. The judge finally acquiesces vindicating the widow. Her constant intercession has paid off.
God will bring justice in the face of trouble 6-7
Jesusí point was not that we get what we want if we persist in prayer but that God [will] bring about justice for His elect, who are persistent in prayer, that is who cry to Him day and night. So itís not that I get what I want when Iím persistent in prayer, but believers who are treated wrongly get justice, either immediate, ultimate or both, when persistent in prayer. Delay in vindication is not an excuse to lose faith. God gives us justice, not whatever we ask for.
Vindication is sure 8
An intriguing question is: when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? First, Jesus says justice will come speedily which can mean suddenly when it does come or it is near to coming. God will act to bring justice. In the interim, will believers keep the faith? Will they continue to pray and look for vindication? So be vigilant looking to the day when Jesus will come in defense of his own people.
NB: We know that we cannot avoid God because He is omnipresent (Psalm 139). But this parable suggests God cannot avoid us either. Godís omnipresence causes Him pain because He cannot ignore the sin of man (say at the time of Noah, Israelís idolatry, Sodomís homosexuality). God was painfully aware of their sin. So God is also aware of injustice, and He is a God of justice.
FAVOR WITH GOD IS GROUNDED IN HUMILTY NOT PRIDE
Pray like the humble not the proud 9-13
Here is a prayer of thanksgiving contrasted with a prayer of repentance. The Pharisee is thankful that he is not a sinner and that he fasts and pays tithes. He was confident that his religious activity endeared him to God. But his thankfulness is contrasted with the tax collector who said, God, be merciful to me, the sinner! His posture suggests how unworthy he views himself.
God honors humility 14
1. Never find yourself in the position of the Pharisee, confident in your righteousness and your religion. Our walk does not lead to pride of accomplishment. It leads to further realization of the spiritual battle for holiness, which keeps us in the position of the tax gatherer God, be merciful to me, the sinner.
2. Thankfulness alone does not necessarily create righteousness. We can be thankful for the wrong things. The Pharisee was thankful for his religion, and his religious achievements.
3. God will only accept you in a position of humility (value dependent upon God). So if you are one of His children, then either you humble yourself or God will humble you.† unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ĎGod, be merciful to me, the sinner!í
HUMILITY IS CHILD LIKE DEPENDENCE UPON GOD
Luke includes this as an illustration of the previous point: everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. †When people were bringing their children to Jesus His disciples objected. Jesus not only received them but also used them as an object lesson saying, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.
PT: This is not about all children going to heaven. It is also not about child-like faith. Itís about child-like dependent humility [value dependent upon God], rather than adult independent pride [value independent from God], as a basis for entering Godís kingdom. Faith should not be naÔve. Faith is trusting objectively verifiable evidence. Childlikeness has to do with humility not unverifiable faith.
TRUST IN WEALTH OR WORKS CANNOT YIELD ETERNAL LIFE
Jesus the Good teacher 18-19
The man addressed Jesus as a Good teacher. The issue is; since only God is good, then either Jesus is not good and not God or He is good and therefore He is God. The point is if the ruler desires to truly follow God he should respond to the one who brings his teachings.
Being good is not good enough 20-26
But his basic question was, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus led him to the bankruptcy of his current position, which was, I am working my way there by being good and keeping the commandments. Jesus asks him about the Ten Commandments v 20 leaving out the God directed commands. When he claimed he kept them Jesus told him sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me v 22. He leaves very sad v 23. His inability to humbly trust God rather than riches motivates Jesus response v 24. Jesus adds, 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 v 25. That is, itís impossible not just difficult. Then the apostles wondered how anyone can be saved since we all have some wealth v 26. Jesus said, things that are impossible with people are possible with God because of the Cross v 27.
PT: This is sobering because most of us are richer than this rich ruler. Those of us who live in westernized countries and in the 21st century have more medical, technological, and material wealth available to us than the Pharaohs, or the Caesars of Rome. Jesusí point is if you are trying to get to God by your righteousness itís not going to happen, just like the Pharisee in the parable.
Giving up house and home 28-30
Then Jesus added an interesting comment to the disciples question about leaving their homes and families v 28. Jesus also says they will receive many times as much at this time v 30. The meaning is determined by how this was played out in the lives of the apostles. They did not get more houses and bigger families but a band of Christian brothers and sisters who made their houses and families available to themóa network of brothers and sisters with houses and other assets available to the whole church.
GOD CAN BE TRUSTED TO FULFILL HIS PLANS
Before reaching Jericho Jesus took the disciples aside and told them they were going to Jerusalem. There, four things would happen. (1) All things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man (like in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53) will be accomplished. (2) He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon. This was important because Luke did not want his readers to think that the Gentiles were guiltless in Jesusí death. The whole world was guilty of the death of the Savior. and (3) after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and (4) the third day He will rise again. But the disciples understood none of these things because they were focused on Him going to Jerusalem to become the King over Israel. They had no concept of the Messiah being killed, so His rising on the 3rd day probably seemed like some kind of allegory.
GOD RESPONDS TO THOSE WHO ASK FOR MERCY
Here the poor begging blind man ends up with everything. Earlier the spiritually poor rich young ruler ended up with nothing from Jesus. He walked away from Jesus sad because of his wealth. Now the blind man walks away praising God because of the joy of sight and salvation. Who has access to Godís favor and saving power? The one who recognizes the need for Gods mercy. Who is rich before God? The one who follows Jesus by faith. Jesus responded to a call for mercy (unmerited favor).
1. Blindness, and all sicknesses and deformities, are bad, not good or a hidden blessing, or Jesus would not have healed them. The fact that Jesus changed this manís condition from blindness to sight means blindness is bad and sight is good. Sickness is the curse on nature (Romans 8) not something normal. 2. Jesus says: Your faith has saved you. Of course it was not his faith in anything, but his faith in Jesus which he had because of what he had heard about Jesus. So it was trust based upon verifiable evidence. He asked Jesus for sight.
1. There is never a reason to doubt God.
2. Living consistent with eternal priorities is most profitable way to live.