Luke 18 (New International Version)
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And 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 about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ”
6And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I 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
9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I 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.’
“Two Went Up To The Temple To Pray”
Two went up to the Temple to pray.
Two went to pray? O, rather say,
One went to brag, the other to pray;
One stands up close and treads on high,
Where the other dare not level his eye;
One nearer to God’s altar trod,
The other to the altar’s God.
–English poet Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)
14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
from Echoings: Meditations for Today.
by J. Ruth Stenerson
Different as their attitudes were, the Pharisee and the tax collector went to the temple for the same commendable reason. Both felt the desire to pray, and both knew where God had promised to meet those who would seek him. Both had something they wanted to say to God. And there the similarity between the two ends.
The Pharisee, deliberately separating himself from others—even other Pharisees—no doubt raised his eyes and held up his arms in the proper stance for prayer. He had been taught, at least by the example of the psalmists, that prayer should begin with thanksgiving. But it is rather hard to give thanks if all one wants to talk about is oneself, no? Perhaps he is a little abashed to say “I thank you, God, that I am generous, honest, and morally pure–as other people are not.” If he dare not claim those positive qualities, at least he need not plead guilty to the negative ones of greed, dishonesty or adultery. And surely he can safely claim not to be like that despised tax collector off on the fringes of the temple crowd. Why did the temple guard ever let him come inside?
In the days of Jesus, devout Pharisees usually fasted Mondays and Thursdays. The one in our story assures God he does his full duty in fasting, and gives his tithe—evidently on his gross income. His prayer ends very abruptly. There is nothing he wants to ask of God; he is only making a status report. His thanks is not for what God is, but praise for what he himself is. What more does he need from God? Only attention to his self-praise.
Perhaps this self-righteous man was hungry for the praise of others and got little of it. Those who in total self-absorption wait for the praises of others are often abrasive and super-critical of others, unwilling to give those around them the space to live. Because others refuse to feed their need for ego-reinforcement, they must sing their own praises, unable to understand why they are left standing by themselves.
The Pharisee goes home from his errand to the temple unsatisfied and unfulfilled. The tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. Sadly, the Pharisee probably didn’t even know why.
Lord, there is so much of the Pharisee in me. I would love to tell you, if I dared, all my good qualities which deserve praise. I long for your saving love to help me understand how threadbare my list of virtues is. Amen.
Ken Medema and “Mr. Simon.”
The Little Children and Jesus
15People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16But 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. 17I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
The Rich Ruler
18A 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. 20You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'”
21“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22When 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.”
Proverbs 19:17 (New Living Translation)
If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—
and he will repay you!
23When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.
The man all wrapped up in himself is a mighty small package.
–from The Sayings of Chairman Moishe, by Moishe Rosen
24Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, 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.”
26Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
27Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
28Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
29“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”
Jesus Again Predicts His Death
31Jesus 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. 32He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. 33On the third day he will rise again.”
34The 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
35As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
38He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
39Those 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!”
40Jesus 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.
Isaiah 42:5-7 (New International Version)
This is what God the LORD says—
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
In all the Old Testament there is no account of any blind person receiving his or her sight. No disciples of the Lord were involved in restoring sight to a blind person. Only Ananias’s involvement in Paul’s regaining his temporary loss of sight is somewhat analogous but still different from what Christ did when He gave sight to people. Only the Lord restored sight to the permanently blind, and there are more recorded miracles of the Lord in this category than any other (see Matt. 9:27-31; 12:22; 15:30; 21:14; Mark 8:22-26; 10:46-52; Luke 7:21). The reason is simply that the Old Testament predicted this miraculous healing would be a function of the Messiah; these sight-giving miracles clearly point out Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah.
–from The Miracles of Our Lord, by Charles Caldwell Ryrie
42Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
Lord, I know thy grace is nigh me,
Though thyself I cannot see;
Jesus, Master, pass not by me;
Son of David! Pity me.
While I sit in weary blindness,
Longing for the blessed light,
Many taste thy loving kindness,
“Lord, I would receive my sight.”
I would see thee and adore thee,
And thy word the power can give.
Hear the sightless soul implore thee,
Let me see thy face and live.
Ah, what touch is this that thrills me?
What this burst of strange delight?
Lo, the rapturous vision fills me!
This is Jesus! This is sight!
Room, ye saints, that throng behind Him,
Let me follow in the way;
I will teach the blind to find Him
Who can turn their night to day.
–H. D. Ganse
Images courtesy of:
the persistent widow. http://servicioskoinonia.org/cerezo/dibujosC/53ordinarioC29.jpg
at heaven’s gate cartoon. http://neatorama.cachefly.net/images/2007-01/believer-jerk.gif
small package. http://www.clipartguide.com/_small/0808-0711-0615-3863.jpg
Jesus heals blind man. http://teachmedad.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/jesus_healing_blind.gif
Jesus heals blind man, black and white. http://www.sundayschoollessons.com/sunfolderwu/image4.gif