Author: John Whitmarsh
APPROACH TO GOD
God is accessible. He is not remote. He is the at hand God (Philippians 4.5). He wants us to approach Him and yet we need to approach and to know how to approach Him. Luke wrote unto Theophilus to set in order that ye may know so that the whole chapter comprises a section, teaching us about our approach to God or His Christ.
In the first eight verses (the parable of the Unjust Judge) there is emphasis upon the NEED OF APPROACH, and underlines the truth that access to God is possible. He is the judge of heaven who will answer prayers. The chapter starts with the Lord Jesus saying that men ought always to pray. This section is in the context of tribulation and the purpose is to show His disciples that God hears our earnest prayers. It is good to know there is a God in heaven who desires that we pray. And in the midst of tribulation it is good to know that there is the God of heaven to whom one can turn. However, too often, we try to muddle through, fail, and then accuse God of not helping. The lesson is that we should pray for tribulation will come; through job problems, friends turn against us, loneliness, illness or ultimately death, the greatest trial of all. We need to learn to pray before these things come upon us and learn that God is interested in us. And do we?? However, this week we will find that there are both manner and means in our approach to God.
Having established the fact of the need to pray, we move on to the next section in verses 9 14, which gives a second parable about prayer and this time underlines the NEED OF THE RIGHT MANNER OF APPROACH. Prayer is a good exercise, but some prayers are not heard. Here we are told that God would hear the humble heart; for everyone that exalts himself shall be abased, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. Pray with humility
Then, in verses 15 17 we see the RIGHT MANNER OF OUR APPROACH to God should be as little children, coming in dependence and faith; for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Pray with faith.
Further down the chapter in verses 18 30 we have the certain ruler asking Jesus what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus then speaks to the man of the hindrance of riches and the need to ensure Christ is the chief love of his life. HINDRANCES TO APPROACH
Then in verses 31 34 we see the MEANS OF OUR APPROACH TO GOD, for we have the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ foretold. Blood needed to be shed to open the door of heaven. The way has been opened up for us. We can approach God.
Finally in verses 35 43 we read of the blind man, who is the object lesson of what the chapter has taught. This man APPROACHED HIS GOD. We see him crying out consistently in the face of opposition (like the widow in the 1st parable). He cannot physically see his way but he knew the need of approach. He cried for mercy in humility (like the publican of the 2nd parable) so that he had the right attitude in his approach. He came in simple faith (like the children of the 1st story) so that he had the right manner of approach. He came with absolutely no other to depend on (in Mark 10 we read that he casts away his garment, unlike the 2nd story) so that there were no hindrances in his approach. And it is all in the shadow of the cross. He is given his sight and the lesson is that he followed him, glorifying God.
So at the start we read of men praying in the context of tribulation, driven to prayer because of their own need; we finish with following Christ and glory to God. This too, should a lesson that the ultimate end of prayer should be Gods glory.
We do not pray enough. Small things, big things, they are all alike to God. We do not involve our God as much as we should.
Verses 1-8 Pray without ceasing
1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Context: the days preceding the return and revelation of the Son of Man; the tribulation (17.30, 18.8). These are dark and terrible days (physically, morally and spiritually) where those marked by genuine faith in God will be in the minority.
Jesus is alive and He is coming again; first to the air (believers), second to the earth (judgment).
1. Aim of the parable (verse 1)
Luke 18.1 And he spake a parable unto them (disciples, 17.22) to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
In the light of difficult days of great persecution two alternatives are presented: always to pray or constant and incessant (like a cough) prayer or to faint, i.e. lose heart and become weary. To lose heart is the consequence of fixing ones gaze on earthly things. It suggests a lack of faith. To be always praying is a sign of fixing the gaze on the heavenly. It suggests genuine faith and confidence in God.
George Muller: I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk, when I lie down and when I arise. The answers are always coming. Thousands and ten thousands of times have my prayers been answered.
GOSPEL: Christians have a living relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ. Do you?
2. Actors in the parable (verses 2-3a)
Luke 18.2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
a judge who had no reverence (fear) for God and consequently no respect (regard) for man.
He did not show mercy to those who needed his help and had no interest in justice (cf. v.6).
Luke 18.3a And there was a widow in that city;
a widow, a contrast to the judge in terms of social standing; a picture of weakness and vulnerability.
GOSPEL: Do you have reverence for God? Mankind has rebelled against God and His commandments (no fear). In fact, all have sinned. We are like the widow weak and vulnerable to death and judgment.
Romans 5.6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
3. Actions of the parable (verses 3b-5)
Luke 18.3b And she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
she came she kept coming (imperfect tense); she was persistent.
avenge me her adversary or opponent had treated her unfairly (financial) and her great desire was for the execution of justice (not vengeance).
Luke 18.4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
he would not for a while the judge did not respect man (v.2). Why should he help an inferior?
but afterward after a period of time, he finally granted her justice. Why?
Luke 18.5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
Not because he was gracious. Not because he cared for her. Not because he was just - lest by her continual coming she weary me her persistence was causing him weariness, literally, to beat black and blue. This widow packed a punch! He felt he had gone 10 rounds in a boxing match!
His motive in granting her justice was entirely selfish; that he might have an easier life.
GOSPEL: God is offering salvation from sins today! This offer is because He IS gracious; He IS a God of love. He offers this salvation at great cost to Himself (not selfish). Calvary. He is just in doing so.
4. Application of the parable (verses 6-8)
Luke 18.6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
Even the unjust judge was willing to grant justice eventually. What about God? *GNB* Luke 18.7 Now, will God not judge in favour of his own people who cry to him day and night for help? Will he be slow to help them? Verse 8: I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.
A total contrast! God will grant justice to His people very quickly. He will not be slow in helping them. Even in a period when His people (elect) will be unjustly treated and persecuted, their confidence in God does not waver (cry day and night). With good reason! The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (2 Thess. 1.7-8).
GOSPEL: The judgment of God is coming upon them that know not God and obey not the gospel.
Luke 18.8 Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find (that) faith on the earth?
Nevertheless or but the Lord Jesus asks a question, not to speculate, but to encourage self-examination.
Will the same kind of persistent faith shown by the widow be evident in mankind in that day?
When the Son of Man returns, will the earth be full of those with unswerving confidence in God? No.
Genuine faith that anchors firm in God, even through the fiercest storms, is rare.They are the minority.
GOSPEL: Genuine faith is the channel through which the Saviour/salvation is received. What kind of faith is yours? Do you have persistent confidence in the Lord Jesus or something else? The widow had misplaced faith in man (unjust judge).
Verses 9-17 Trust in God and let children come
9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
15 And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
So the parable of Unjust Judge is followed by parable of Pharisee and Publican. Both relate to prayer. One tells us of its necessity or need; and the other of its correctness or method. The unjust judge is unrighteous, yet the Pharisee is self-righteous. One the other hand, the widow is confident of her cause (she believed in troubling the judge that is the plea itself, its persistency), the publican appeals only to mercy (this is the nature of the plea). The lesson from last week is that men ought always to pray. The lesson this week is that to be justified before God, the attitude of prayer is critical. (Proverbs 3. 5, 6 says, Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths).
The Pharisee and Publican both went to prayer, at the temple. The Pharisees had separated themselves unto the service of God. The publicans were a hated people as it was perceived that they swerved the enemy. The Pharisee went into the temple to pray. The Publican stopped at the threshold to pray. They had different motives for prayer. One prayed as a formality or duty or out of habit, one prayed in urgency and desperation for mercy.
So, it is the attitude of heart that reveals the gulf between the two men. The Pharisee prayed with thanksgiving on his lips, but pride in his heart. We learn from this section that we cannot pray with pride in our heart. It is boastfulness, based on his own position and deeds. Now the Lord had hard words to say about Pharisees, although possibly they held sway over the people at large who looked up to them.
Quote: they were like an oil painting; from a distance they looked good, but the closer you got the more confused it becomes.
The Lord Jesus says of them:
They trusted in themselves (Luke 18. 9)
They despised others (Luke 18.9)
In other places we read:
Hypocrites (Matt 23. 13)
Jesus said to them; Go ye, and learn what it means that I will have mercy and not sacrifice (Matt 9. 13)
Pharisees on Christ He casts out demons through the prince of the demons (Matt 9. 34)
They teach for doctrine the commandments of men (Matt 15. 9)
They say and do not (Matt 23. 3)
All their works they do for to be seen of men (Matt 23. 5)
They loved the uppermost rooms and the chief seats (Matt 23. 6)
They have omitted the weightier matters of the law (Matt 23.23)
They justify themselves before men; but God knows their hearts (Luke 16.15)
How can you escape the damnation of hell (Matt 23.33)
Such was their blindness that one Rabbi is on record saying that if there were only two righteous men in the world, he and his son were these; and if only one, it was he! The Lord Jesus said of this Pharisee that he trusted in himself and despised others. This gave indication of the sin in his heart. For in Mark 12, one of the scribes had asked the Lord Jesus what the greatest commandment was. The Lord Jesus replied thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind and with all thy strength; this is the greatest commandment, and the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Mark 12 v 30, 31). He failed to meet the requirements of the first and greatest commend, that is to love God, for he trusted himself. And likewise he failed in the second greatest commandment, for he despised others.
So God knows us. We cannot pull the wool over His eyes. He reads the heart. How does He see us? The Pharisees prayer did not reach heaven since he was proud, not because he was righteous. He thought God would hear him (for he thought he was so good), but the words bounced back off the ceiling. Isaiah 65.5 speaks of the people of that day which say, stand by thyself; come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burns all the day.
Note the emphasis of I in the prayer of the Pharisee. The pride is overbearing. He did not know the truth of Isaiah 64.6, we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. He did not read in Job, when one of his friends said, how then can a man be justified before God (Job 25. 4). Or David, behold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me (Psalm 51.5), or Paul, who said, I know that in me, that is to say my flesh, dwells no good thing (Romans 7.18), so that no flesh should glory in his presence (1 Corinthians 1.29). We are all dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2.1). Here is our challenge. We have NOTHING to offer the Lord. So why we are here? Is it to be seen of men? Does what we do, or where we go or what we say depend on who is listening? If there was to be a tape recorder of your words and deeds for the past week, how much I would there be? How much like the Pharisee are we in truth? We need an I test!
The Lord also says that the Pharisee despised others. And what about our attitude to others? It is easy for us to be friendly and outward to those who are our friends or peers. The world says this that we should stand tall. A lawyer once told a farmer that he should stand tall in the world and not to bow before any God or man. The farmer pointed to the field of wheat and said that the ones that stood tall stood empty. The well filled ears bend low.
The test is how we treat those who are less popular, or not like us. Also how critical would we be of others. Rich or poor people? Black or White? Gay or straight? When I read this I thanked God I was not like the Pharisee?! The standard is Christ. He did not speak of Himself. He glorified God. He cared for the worst of those He met. Story of a white house seeming dirty when against the white snow. We may compare well against others but how do we compare against Gods Son?
The Publicans prayer was heard because not because he was a sinner (the Pharisee was also a sinner!), but because he was humble. He was a sinner and he knew his sinfulness. He had failed and maybe reviled. He was self-loathing before God, not self-righteous. He said God be merciful to me, THE sinner. It was a short prayer; not even any quotes from scripture! Catholic priest said he knew two things were certain to him. There is a God, and Im not he.
Note his eyes they were cast down. Note his hands they beat his breast. Note his voice as he cried out for mercy.
This man knew he could offer nothing to God. He came humbly, simply crying out for mercy.
The Lord Jesus was teaching that we should pray realising there is no worth in us, but that God has great compassion. Think of the prayers of many other key men of the Bible. We read of Abraham (Genesis 18.27, behold now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes); Jacob (Genesis 32.10, I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which thou hast shewed unto thy servant); Nehemiah (1.5, 6 O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keeps covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments we have sinned against thee both I and my fathers house have sinned); Ezra (Ezra 9.6, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased and our trespass is grown unto the heavens); Job (Job 40.3, 4 Then Job answered the Lord and said, behold I am vile); David (Psalm 51.3, For I acknowledge my transgressions and my sin is ever before me); Isaiah (6.5, Woe is me for I am undone because I am a man of unclean lips and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips); Daniel (9.4, 5, O Lord the great and dreadful God keeping covenant and mercy to them that love him and to them that keep his commandments; we have sinned and have committed iniquity and have done wickedly); Peter (Luke 5.8, depart from me, for I am a sinful O Lord ); and Paul (Romans 7.24, O wretched man that I am!). Even in Isaiah 53.6 Isaiah says, all we like sheep have gone astray He included himself. They are self-abasing before God, knowing their own weakness and failure. There was no room for pride, only for Gods glory.
There is, in Bethlehem, a church called the Church of the Holy Nativity, built over the place where folk think the lord Jesus was born. It only has one small door through which we need to stoop low to enter. The Saracens had tried to ride in to the church on horseback to defile it, so the monks reduced the height of the door. Now you have to stoop and enter on your own. How like our entrance to heaven, to God, (on a daily basis in prayer, or for the first time in salvation the story is for all).
There is nothing in us at all. This is the great lesson we all know but never learn. All have sinned; the Pharisee, the publican, you, and me. None have any standing before God. To come before him demands that we lose ourselves. No flesh should glory in his sight. F. F. Bruce, In the eyes of Christ, a person confessing sin is nearer to true goodness than a person boasting of his own goodness. This is why Christ came. We who are dead in trespasses and sins. Christ died for our sins on the cross.
Psalm 138.6, Though the Lord be high, yet has he respect unto the lowly; but the proud he knows afar off.
Psalm 34.18, The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saves such as be of a contrite spirit
Proverbs 16.5, Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord
Isaiah 57.15, For thus says the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit
James 4.6, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble
Note once more that the prime example is Jesus Himself. He humbled himself ... wherefore God has highly exalted him. Two men left the temple one justified, the other not. How will you leave tonight?
Then there is the story of the children. We need to be like children, for of such are the kingdom of heaven. Children are trusting. They are dependent. They are unquestioning and uncritical. A picture of faith. But there may be opposition from within or without to change.
Verses 18-30The dangers of riches
18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. 20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.
21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. 22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. 23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
24 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 26 And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? 27 And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. 28 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.
29 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, 30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
So far we have encountered a judge and a widow with a persistent approach, a persistent plea. That was recognition of her need. Then we have seen the Pharisee and the publican and noted two kinds of approach with the plea for mercy being the right approach. That is realisation of his nothingness. Then there were the children. That is reliance on Gods nature. Then there is this story of the rich ruler which illustrates the reluctance to acknowledge his need, his nothingness and Gods nature. We cannot come on our terms. Then in the prediction of His death and resurrection we are told of the reality of the need and finally in the story of the blind man we are told of the reception of the needy.
Verse 18 lets us know that it was a certain ruler so that he existed. Verse 23 lets us know that he was rich but only towards the end of the narrative. Once again Luke raises the matter of the wealthy and the need for generosity. It is there in 3.11; 5.11, 28; 6.23-26, 34-35, 38; 7.5; 8.3, 14; 10.34-35; 11.41; 12.13-21, 33; 14.12-14, 33; 16.9-13 so that this is a constant theme throughout the book with more to come in the closing chapters. That aside the theme in this chapter is approach to God and here we are told of hindrances to approach to God. We must stress that God is accessible. He wants to be approached. That is the principle throughout this chapter. There is a way and a means to come but there may be hindrances to an approach to God. Providing we come the way that God has told us to approach Him then any hindrance is of our own making or allowed by us.
The ruler recognised the Saviours goodness, knew of and enquired about eternal life (though he did so by asking about doing to receive by the way one does not have to do to inherit; verse 30 speaks of receiving everlasting life), he kept the law (he was a law abiding citizen). He was upright as far as the law was concerned but he was not sinless. He knew that this man was good. He certainly knew that He was good and was attracted to His goodness. He needed to see that He was God. The Saviour explained to him that, by his choice of words, he was saying that the Lord Jesus was and is, by the way, God.
There is a wealth of difference between being upright and being sinless. Another term used of law keepers in scripture is blameless but there is a wealth of difference between being blameless and being sinless. There is a wealth of difference between being upright and being good. The one to whom he spoke was both sinless and good, essentially good. There was none other like Him. The ruler, though, did not recognise sin and grace. He did not really know either himself or his God.
Then the Saviour probed him. Remember that we have just read about the Pharisee and the publican. The one who went home justified was not the Pharisee. The Lord Jesus directed this upright, young (we are told so twice over in Matthews account) Jew towards the law. In Matthew 19 the young man asks a question (which?) when confronted with the law and his ability to keep it. Having established that he had done so from his youth upward (he was still young so he must have started very early) there is no challenge of that ability. Application - if Christianity is merely a set of rules and regulations to which we give our consent, religiously practice and there is no expression of goodness then we have missed the point.
Matthews account has the young man asking another question at the end of the answer given about law keeping. What lack I yet? If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. Marks account has this to say before the statement about the lack in the mans life Then Jesus beholding him loved him. The Lord was direct as he spoke with this man. This was straight talking. We may feel that such straight talking displayed a lack of concern for the young man. Far from it for the scripture before the main bit of straight talking was done states that the Saviour loved him.
Notice that the Saviour had to instruct the man to follow Him. With the blind man at the end of this chapter there was no need to give this instruction. For people like Peter, Andrew, James and John this meant that they had to give up their former way of life and leave the fishing boats and follow Him. For this man it meant that he would have to leave comforts behind to join the Saviour where He went. God doesnt call us to a monastic existence for some have thought that when they have see the Lord Jesus with twelve disciples. He does, however, call us to put Him first in all things. If the possession of riches is the obstacle to our salvation then we must deal with that. Whatever the obstacle, and that obstacle may be a host of things, then it must be removed to allow the Saviour to take control.
Riches are a major obstacle to anyone trusting the Saviour. The Lord Jesus made that abundantly clear. It was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich to enter the kingdom of God. The compiler of these notes recalls a Bible that he was given as a youngster (no doubt a Scripture Gift Mission one) where a picture showed a camel getting down low to get through a small gate into a city (presumably Jerusalem) with the reference to this scripture given under the painting. The question that should be raised about such an interpretation as an adult is did such a gate (the needle gate) ever exist and if it did why choose this gate to enter the city with a camel when they were plenty of larger gates? Why not take the phrase on face value? The account in Mark 10 says, And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. The phrase trust in riches is significant for all the while that a person in anything other than the Lord Jesus then it is impossible to enter the kingdom of God.
The disciples response was understandable. Who then can be saved? There is not one who can be saved all the while they trust anything or anyone other then the Lord Jesus but any and everyone can be saved on one condition and that is that their trust is in the Lord Jesus for this salvation. To trust in anything or anyone that has to do with man means no salvation. With men it is impossible. With God all things are possible. This salvation is a work of God. Man cannot do it. It is impossible. God alone can do it and relying on Him and Him alone means that anyone can be saved.
Then Peter expressed another concern. He, indeed all the disciples, had left all to follow the Lord Jesus. The rich man lacked the trust of the blind man of verses 35-43, as well as the penitent heart of Zacchaeus (19.1-10). The rich man's attitude is more like that of the Pharisee of 18.9-14. The self-confidence he reflects, along with his sense of sinlessness, is condemned by the Lord Jesus. Peter had no need to be anxious. In contrast, by trusting and following the Lord Jesus, the disciples had given what He had asked for. They were to have a rich reward, both now and in the life to come (verses 29-30).
Rather than teach the passage the speaker spoke simply about four things about the rich young ruler, four things about the Saviour and four things about salvation:
Anxious Mark tells us that he came running; though a rich man (had he lived today in Hurst he would have lived in one of those 1m+ houses) but still he felt a spiritual void for eternal matters. He recognised a need. Wouldnt it be great to see this hall filled with people interested in spiritual matters and concerned about their eternal welfare?
Befuddled He asked about doing to receive by the way, even in the physical realm, one does not have to do to inherit; verse 30 speaks of receiving everlasting life as a gift. We cannot inherit eternal life. We cannot do to obtain eternal life. We have to receive it as a gift.
Conscientious He was a law abiding citizen; he thought he could come his way to get this eternal life; there was no sense of his nothingness as with the publican; there is no plea for mercy; we are not Jews that we have a Mosaic law but there are some who think the keeping of societys laws entitles them to a place in heaven; society only decides who it is who loses their freedom in a jail; it does not who gets into heaven; we can do what society allows us to do these days and offend God for society has condones a lot of things that God has condemned.
Dismayed Mark tells us that he, among others, trusted in riches (how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!); he went away sorrowful; there is only one way into Gods heaven; it is not trust in ourselves (verse 9); it is childlike trust in the Saviour as in verse 17 that guarantees an entrance there. This man had no trust in God and could not be saved.
The Saviour was:
All-knowing There is a long word to describe this attribute but it doesnt start with A! He knew the man and the reasons why he had not been saved riches kept him back; the Saviour knows the best about us and the worst and loves us just the same; for me it may be another reason that holds me back
Bold He told the man the reasons why he had not been saved; one thing thou lackest; this was the crux of the matter
Clear He told the man that he had to remove this obstacle to his salvation out of his life
Direct He did not pull any punches and neither do we want to do that tonight; if we are not saved then there is something that holds us back; I doubt that it is riches. If we want to be guaranteed a place in heaven then we must identify that obstacle and remove it else we will leave this world sorrowful and remain eternally sorrowful
Four things about salvation:
Admit We have to agree with God that we have sinned for He cannot save us until we do. We do not read words like, I have sinned or Have mercy upon me as seen elsewhere throughout this chapter. The words used are more akin to those used by the Pharisee.
Believe The man here did not get saved because he believed in something else; believe on the Lord Jesus for there is no relationship without trust. Merely acknowledging a need and recognising the Saviours goodness does not get a person to heaven. We must rest our confidence and trust in Him as our God and Saviour.
Confess Not only do we confess our sin to God but we agree (confess) with God about His Son
Discipleship There are plenty who come forward at a gospel campaign and sign a piece of paper; there are not so many who, as the last verse of this chapter says, followed Him, and as Mark adds, throwing away his garment. The rich man was given the challenge to follow the Lord Jesus but did not; the blind man did not even need to be asked.
Verses 18-43 Nearing Jericho
31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. 34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. 35 And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: 36 And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. 37 And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. 38 And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. 39 And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. 40 And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, 41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. 42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.
Remember the opening of the chapter Luke 18.1, And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
The chapter opens with a persistent widow verse 5, Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
The chapter closes with a persistent blind man verse 39, And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
In the chapter we see a Pharisee who is content with himself before God (verses 11 and 12) and we see a publican who is heartbroken before God (v13); we see a rich young ruler who departs sadly from the Lord because of his riches. In the next chapter (19) we see a rich publican verse 2, And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich who on being saved freely gives away his riches verse 8, And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. Both rich and poor can be saved and we see the Lord working in their lives.
Our passage divides very neatly into 2 parts: verses 31 to 34 and 35 to the end.
Luke records at least 7 predictions by the Lord surrounding His crucifixion and resurrection, each capable of being tested;
For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles - Luke 23.14, (Pilate) Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:
and shall be mocked, Matthew 27.41, Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
and spitefully entreated, Matthew 27.26-30, Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
and spitted on Matthew 27. 67 and 68, Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?
And they shall scourge him Matthew 27.26, Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
and put him to death Luke 23.32 and 33, And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
and the third day he shall rise again. Luke 24.4 8, And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words,
This is an insight as to what the Lord went through to save a soul. The Lord was not forced or manipulated the scripture says Isaiah 50.6, I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
Verse 34 is interesting And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.
The disciples were so certain as to how future events were to be played out that they failed to listen to what the Lord was saying (they understood nothing).
Secondly Luke seems to suggest that God actually hid these things from the disciples until such a time that they could understand.
Thirdly it seems as though it was an on-going ignorance
There is then a complete change of scene to Jericho and a blind man recorded as begging. This section was used to address the children in particular. The blind man sensed from the crowd that something is happening and was told that Jesus of Nazareth passed by. The Lord, as it were, still passes by today and can be called out to by faith. The blind man is initially rebuked and silenced by the crowd (39). It is not unusual even today that when a soul starts to reach out to God that numerous obstacles and objections are put in the way by the evil one motivating friends, family and work colleagues. The blind man must have had some appreciation of the Lord for he cried out (38) saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. This is one of the titles of the Messiah, and he had no doubts that the Lord Jesus could help him. He shouted out.
The Lord does not force Himself upon men and women or boys and girls. He graciously asked the man what he wanted (41). The man knew his need and told the Saviour (it is just the same today). The man immediately received his sight and the Saviour confirmed that salvation is on the basis of faith (42). It is just the same today.
Its interesting to consider whether the blind mans mental image of the Lord was the same as the one he saw with his eyes. He saw a very simply dressed man in His thirties, perhaps slightly dusty from His travelling, but not a finely dressed man of wealth and position. The scripture says well of Him, He humbled himself.