Luke 18 A Prayer Parable; Rich Young Ruler
Summary

Included in the teaching of the eighteenth chapter of Luke are a series of two parables on prayer and a prophecy of Jesus’ death in Jerusalem. These special discussions follow the tings Jesus had said in the preceding chapter about coming judgment upon the nation. They are designed to bring comfort by the rhetorical conclusion, “Will not God avenge His own elect…when the Son of Man comes?” These messages offer wisdom and understanding to those who would prepare for judgment. Jesus first called upon the righteous to pray, persistently and humbly, in view of these coming events. Of course, His messages provide great instruction for mankind in many other circumstances in all centuries and generations.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

18And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Question 1

Why does Jesus say men ought always to pray and not lose heart?

Question 2

What is the message to me in the story of the Pharisee and tax collector?

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

9He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[1] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13But 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!’ 14I 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

15Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16But 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. 17Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Question 3

How do you think one receives the kingdom “like a little child?”

The Rich Ruler

18And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22When 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.” 23But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25For 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.” 26Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” 28And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers[2] or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Question 4

Was Jesus saying He was not good in verse 19? What did He mean?

Question 5

What did Jesus mean when he said “It is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God?

Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time

31And 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. 32For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34But 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

35As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. 37They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39And 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!” 40And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, 41“What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” 42And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

People
  • Jesus is telling parables:
  • A widow seeking justice from an unjust judge.

    A Pharisee and a humble publican.

  • Little children brought to Jesus
  • A rich ruler
  • Peter
  • Conversing with Jesus

  • A blind man
  • Receives his sight

Places
  • Near Jericho
  • Jesus was coming close to this city, near the Jordan River east of Jerusalem (v. 35)

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

18And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Luke 18:1

Jesus was not saying that it might be good to pray. “Ought” means it is “necessary” to pray.


Luke 18:3

“Avenge” here means to vindicate, provide justice, protect from the other person’s wrong doing.


Luke 18:5

The judge does not do the right thing because it is the right thing.


Luke 18:6

This judge does not represent God. God does right because it is right; and because he loves us.

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

9He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[1] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13But 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!’ 14I 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.”

Luke 18:10

Pharisees were notoriously hypocritical but looked upon themselves as the most righteous.

Tax-collectors were hated by the people. Notice who is the “hero” in this story.


Luke 18:12

Jews were originally only required to fast on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29-31; Leviticus 23:27-32).By Zechariah’s day, they had adopted a fasting day in the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 10th months (Zechariah 8:19) Modern orthodox Jews have adopted at least six other annual days of fasting.

A tithe is 10%.

Let the Children Come to Me

15Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16But 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. 17Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Luke 18:15

Jewish children were often brought to respected spiritual people to receive prayers and a blessing (see

The Rich Ruler

18And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22When 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.” 23But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25For 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.” 26Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” 28And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers[2] or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Luke 18:18

Jesus is not saying a man cannot be “good” in any sense. He is saying only God is completely good in every way. He is also identifying Himself with God. If He is truly good, He is God.


Luke 18:20

These commandments are from the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20).


Luke 18:22

Jesus told the man to sell because his possessions were his passion. Serving others should be his passion. Jesus does not command all people to sell all. Nor does he promote communism.


Luke 18:25

Jesus here uses an impossible situation to illustrate how trusting in riches keeps one from God.

Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time

31And 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. 32For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

Luke 18:31

Jesus deliberately and courageously went to His terrible suffering in order to die for us.


Luke 18:32

Scourging was brutally flogging a person with a whip.

Jesus Heals a Blind Beggar

35As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. 37They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39And 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!” 40And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, 41“What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” 42And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Luke 18:38

Calling Jesus the “Son of David” recognizes that He is the Messiah King sent by God.

Perspectives

The Lord ultimately takes care of those who humbly trust in Him.

We should care for the poor and be willing to sacrifice our possessions to help them.

Jesus knew before his crucifixion that He would be abused and killed, but He did that for us nonetheless.