· Jesus is teaching his disciples
· Through a story (parable) illustrating why they should persevere in prayer
· There are two persons in the story – an unjust judge and a widow
· The judge does not fear God
· The judge does not care what people think
· The widow comes to him again and again with her plea for justice against her adversary
· “For some time” the judge is unwilling to act on her behalf
· Over time he realizes the widow will persist in pleading her case
· He decides to finally grant her justice so that she will not wear him out with her persistent requests
· Jesus then contrasts how much more God will respond quickly to his elect that cry out to him
· Jesus then asks when he returns (Son of Man comes) will he find such faith on earth?
· Jesus tells another story contrasting prideful arrogance and humility
· Again, there are two persons in the story – a Pharisee and a tax collector
· The two men go up to the temple to pray
· The Pharisee stands and proudly thanks God that he’s not like sinners (robbers, evildoers, adulterers) or the tax collector who also came to pray
· The Pharisee also boasts of his righteous deeds (fast 2x/week and giving a tenth of what he earns)
· However the tax collector stands at a distance and would not look up to heaven
· The tax collector beat his chest and prays “God, have mercy on me a sinner”
· Jesus tells his disciples that the tax collector went home forgiven (justified) as God humbles those who exalt themselves and exalts the humble
· Luke then tells how people would bring little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on him
· However the disciples rebuked them (most likely went against social-cultural hierarchical norms)
· Yet Jesus overrules his disciples and welcomes children “for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these”
· Jesus then illustrates that everyone must receive the Kingdom of God like a child (humility)
· A ruler asks Jesus what must he do to inherit eternal life?
· Jesus reminds and exhorts him to keep the commandments
· The ruler states that he has indeed kept these commandments since he was young
· Jesus then asks him to chronologically do 3 things: sell his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor and then follow Jesus
· The ruler becomes sad because he’s very wealthy
· Jesus looks at him and states it’s easier for a camel to go through an eyes of the needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God
· The people are astonished and ask “who then can be saved”
· Jesus’ response affirms that it’s impossible for the rich to change but change is possible with God
· Peter interjects that the disciples had left “everything” to follow Jesus
· Jesus tells “them” (disciples and crowd) that disciples who leave home and family to follow Jesus will receive a multiple return on their sacrifice in the present life and in the life to come
· Jesus then tells just the 12 disciples they are going to Jerusalem where the prophesies of Jesus being beaten and killed by the Gentiles before his resurrection on the 3rd day will be fulfilled
· The disciples have no clue what Jesus is talking about
· Jesus is then walking to Jericho where a blind man calls out to Jesus to have mercy on him
· Those who were ahead of Jesus rebuke the blind man and tell him to be quiet
· The blind man shouts even louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
· Jesus asks him what he wants Jesus to do for him and he responds that he wants to see
· Jesus indicates the man’s faith has healed him and he’s able to see
· Blind man and the people praise God as a result
Summary of Observations:
· Following Jesus is not complicated. It’s rather simple.
· Yet for adults steeped in worldly values it can feel like an impossible call.
· God wants us to go to him in prayer because unlike an unjust God he’s merciful and answers quickly
· Yet will any of us or our offspring still have such faith when Jesus returns?
· Humility is therefore key to following Jesus, receiving the kingdom and inheriting eternal life.
· Humble people lay down their list of good deeds and are honest with God about their shortcomings
· Humble people have faith much like little children having faith in their parents (or Santa Claus).
· Yet it’s so hard for the rich to humble themselves because they’ve come to love influence and status that comes with wealth.
· Those who forsake wealth and leave behind family, they will receive earthly and heavenly reward.
· God wants me to go to him with what’s really on my heart and what I need
· Stop talking about myself unless its humble confession of my shortcomings and need for grace
· Imagine Jesus’ goodness and the Kingdom like a child imagines how amazing Disneyland could be
· Spend more time with those who have a sense of awe of God’s greatness and works
· Continually divest my affection towards wealth and riches. Increase generosity to counter greed
· Don’t be so proud to cry out to Jesus
· Jesus may even tell us of hardships to come but will we have the spiritual sight to see and understand?
· If Jesus asked what I want for him to do for me, how would I respond?
· Do I have the faith to be honest?
· Do I have the faith that Jesus will help me?
· Do I have the faith to cry out to him for help?
Father, you know this is my third attempt at writing out my prayer to reflect what’s on my heart and mind. I’m grateful for how your Word is so plain and applicable. I’m totally without excuse whenever I read your Word in the morning but do not do what it says. I also confess my spiritual pride that thinks my views, theology, priorities are more important than others. Lord, thank you for your gracious patience with me as you teach me humility.
Lord, I’m also wrestling with your statement that it’s harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven. Will you give me more clarity by what you mean by this? I have full assurance of my salvation and yet openly acknowledge that by global standards I am rich and would definitely be sad and hesitant if you asked Judy & me to sell everything and give it away. The adult in me can too easily justify why you would never ask us to sacrifice yet there’s a child in me that wants to increasingly take you and your kingdom at face value, much like we see in the Book of Acts. May your Spirit transform us so that we live counter-culturally to the materialism and consumerism that surrounds us.
Father, thank you your mercy! Teach me humility. Help me to be honest with you and cry out to you like a child.
In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
Posted on Mon, January 26, 2015
by Rob Schultz