Luke 18

This devotional is written by Sally Watson.

Luke 18

The parable of the persistent widow 
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, honour 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 handed 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.

Reflection

This chapter is so concentrated, full of depth and truth about God, the nitty gritty of our lives and the eternal dimension to them.

We leap from an encouragement to pray with persistence whilst trusting God to respond, to the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector and the reminder, as it says in Samuel, that whilst man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart. We are urged to come as a little child to enter the kingdom of God - I have the joy of seeing children charge into church Sunday by Sunday and I love and need this regular reminder of how I can approach God too.

The things that stand between us and God in these parables resonate - getting weary in prayer, looking to ourselves and what we do and don't do rather than God, comparison, the allure and security of material possessions and the insidious way in which we can lose sight of God's encompassing grace and the resurrection power that brings transformation.

The final parable is of the healing of the blind man, who cried out 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'. This is a prayer, which we can make our own today, asking Jesus to have mercy on us with all our needs and frailties. Take some time to reflect on the question Jesus asks the blind man: 'What do you want me to do for you?'. Jesus speaks with patience and reassurance and with the love borne of knowing you and having breathed life into you. Reflect on the question, talk with Jesus and take the time to answer with what is in your heart. The urge to not be complacent or think it is about what we do but really focus is on relationship - of humility that knows God is God and we are not.

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