The Parable of the Persistent Widow
18 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
The Pharisee and the Tax Collector
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up 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, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Let the Children Come to Me
Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
The Rich Ruler
And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. 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 these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth 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 person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time
And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.
Jesus Heals a Blind Beggar
As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
Luke 18 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Jesus teaches on prayer, humility, and the true following of Him through discipleship. Opening up his thoughts through a parable He reveals how we should always pray and not give up or lose heart.
Persistent prayer is something we all need to get better at. What it doesn’t mean is we use endless repetition or even have super long prayer sessions. As it’s about ‘always praying’ means we are keeping our requests before God constantly throughout our day. It can and should be just like our breathing in and out. We are bringing our requests, the very burdens of our life before Him continually as they’re always at the forefront of our mind.
This is being in the spirit of prayer.
I love how David Guzik gives a comparison to a police officer always carrying a gun with him even when off duty. The officer is always on duty to some degree if you think about this analogy. The same is true for us as Believers; we are to keep the weapon of prayer always there. We never go off duty as Believers.
Yet, as many times our prayers seemingly are not answered in the timing we want, the answer we have interceded for, the miracle we prayed about – if we’re honest this is where we can grow to feel defeated and our fervor in prayer ceases. We become discouraged. We lost heart. Our prayer life takes a hit as we slack off. We’ve all done it. In fact, for some, there is some event that never took place or some request that never was answered and much like the Rich Young Ruler, whose story is found later in this chapter, we walk away.
It’s easy to lose heart on this matter because prayer can be very hard work. And sometimes we even wonder if our prayers change anything really. But as we also know, we have been called to live by faith and not by sight. When we do this, when we put our faith beyond what we can see – even though we may stumble on some point – we are not to give up. Jesus called His disciples to continue to pray. It’s never 3 strikes and you’re out – it’s a continual part of our relationship with God.
God does an amazing thing through the process. We grow. We personally grow in our character, our faith and our hope in Jesus Christ. Being persistent in our prayers brings a deep transformation to our lives. And maybe, just maybe that’s why some of the answers of which we seek have not been given yet. He’s stretching us in our walk and trust in Him. He’s using that burden we are hounded by to shape our relationship with Him.
Walk by faith, not by sight. Do not give up on your prayers. Do not slack or go off duty. God is fully aware of the situation of which you’re interceding for now and is doing far more than just working in it. He’s working in you through the process.
Luke 18 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Have you ever uttered these phrases?
“Well, I’m not really that bad.”
“I’m not as bad as _________.”
“I’ve done ________ so I’m a pretty good person.”
We’ve probably all muttered these phrases to ourselves at one point or another. The Pharisees believed these statements wholeheartedly. They based their self-worth on the premise that they obeyed God and did what He said. They believed in their hearts that they were good enough. They had done enough good to outweigh the bad. This is really the philosophy that so many have in life today, isn’t it?
For the Pharisees, their prayers reflected the pinnacle of their accomplishments.
“The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’Luke 18:11-12 NASB
First, note the posture of the Pharisee. He stands because he is worthy. He feels justified. Why would he cower or hide from the presence of God when he truly believes that he is worthy to be in the Lord’s presence. And it’s not just that he thought he was worthy, it’s that this worth was tied up in his own attitude and actions. He wasn’t thanking God for anything. He was thanking God that he, in his own power, had chosen to be righteous. You can almost hear the tone of self-righteousness in his voice.
“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 18:13-14 NASB
In the simplest of terms, the tax collector had two critical components that the Pharisee lacked. Humility and faith. His humility was found in his inability to even look up at God because of the filth of his sin. His faith was found in his profession that God would show him mercy.
It’s possible this is the best illustration in Scripture of the complete overhaul that is done when an individual repents from the heart. The instantaneous justification is accomplished with no questions asks. There is nothing else to prove and no strings attached. The repentant sinner is made right in the eyes of the Lord because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Let these familiar words sink in for you today.
Where are you acting like a Pharisee, and where do you need to be more like the tax collector? For those who are struggling, there is no better prayer to get started than the one uttered forth by the repentant tax collector. God be merciful to me, the sinner!