Luke 18


Luke 18 includes teachings on persistent prayer, humility, childlike faith, the challenges of wealth, and the significance of recognizing and following Jesus. The chapter also highlights Jesus' prediction of His death and the miraculous healing of Blind Bartimaeus. The overarching theme emphasizes the importance of faith, humility, and a proper understanding of one's relationship with God.


  1. Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8): Jesus tells the story of a persistent widow who continually seeks justice from an unjust judge. The parable emphasizes the importance of persistent prayer and faith, contrasting the unjust judge with God's willingness to bring justice to His chosen ones.
  2. Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14): Jesus contrasts the prayers of a self-righteous Pharisee and a humble tax collector in the temple. The parable illustrates the value of humility and repentance, with the tax collector receiving God's mercy because of his contrite heart.
  3. Blessing of the Children (Luke 18:15-17): People bring children to Jesus, seeking His blessing, but the disciples try to deter them. Jesus rebukes the disciples, welcoming the children and emphasizing the need for childlike faith to enter the kingdom of God.
  4. The Rich Ruler (Luke 18:18-30): A rich ruler asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life, and Jesus instructs him to sell his possessions and follow Him. The rich man struggles with this, and Jesus uses this encounter to teach about the difficulty for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God.
  5. Jesus Predicts His Death (Luke 18:31-34): Jesus foretells His upcoming suffering, death, and resurrection, but the disciples struggle to understand the significance of His words.
  6. Blind Bartimaeus Receives Sight (Luke 18:35-43): Blind Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus for mercy, and despite attempts to silence him, Jesus heals him because of his persistent faith.


A. In Need of His Faithfulness




"And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart."


Prayer is one of the building blocks that construct our relationship with God, with Christ being our cornerstone (Matthew 21:42-44). C.S. Lewis, a prominent Christian writer, described prayer in the following way:


"I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God. It changes me."


Christ wants his disciples (and his elect) to understand that prayer isn't an option in our relationship with God. However, He understood how easy it is to lose heart while living in a broken world. So he gives them a parable sharing with them another piece of God's character to encourage their faith to grow in Him.


"He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man."


This wasn't a random figure Christ decided to use. He specifically chose a judge who feared neither God nor man just like God is not moved by anything outside Himself. As Anyabwile1 points out, 


"Theologians refer to this truth about God as his asiety. God exists and works in the world without dependence on any of his creatures. Nothing outside of God constrains him. In this way, God rules as the perfect impartial judge."


"And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary.'"


A widow was chosen to reflect the condition of a person's dire situation with which there is little support or help in their time of need. When we consider that a widow was often overlooked in societies during this time we see that Christ was showing us that we function much like the widow in this parable. We are facing a hopeless situation that cannot be remedied of our own volition. Perhaps you are experiencing a stubborn addiction, facing literal trials with custody battles, or suffering from the loss of a loved one. Whatever the hurt, the widow called attention to her predicament as an 'adversary'. How often do we face adversaries in the world today! Consider these verses:


"In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food."

-Acts 6:1


A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. -Psalm 68:5


"For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust." -Psalm 103:14


"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8


We can have confidence that the LORD draws near to us as we draw near to Him (James 4:8). He is aware of our adversaries. Are we aware of Him? Do we seek God out as much as we fret over our problems? It's been said that if we pray then why worry? But if we worry so much, then why pray? Adversaries are difficult to handle on our own. That's why Christ wants us to rely on Him completely. When we consider what a testimony is, it wouldn't be much of a testimony without there being a "test" in it.


"For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'"


Jesus is alluding to his upcoming trial with Pilate in this parable. His disciples, being completely clueless about this event, only understand His main application of having the faith to continually pray for justice. There are many parallels to these verses and Luke 23. The 'widow' in this interpretation is the Sanhedrin and other prominent Jewish persons at the mercy of Pilate, a Roman magistrate judge over all of Jerusalem. Pilate paid little attention to them or God. Through unceasing persistence, Pilate responded to the people's cries for justice that Christ be crucified (Luke 23:13-23). With this understanding, we see yet again the compassion Christ had for his people even when they sought to kill Him. He viewed them as the widow in this parable yet remained faithful to them whereas Pilate didn't seek their best interests but to simply get them to stop pestering him.


"And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"


Election in this verse means those chosen by God. There are many implications to this word but its primary meaning is connected to God calling us to His salvation through Christ. Those who have received this effective calling instantly become God's elect. Christ is saying that, unlike the selfish judge, God does care about our adversaries. In the case of Luke 23, the Jewish leaders rejected Christ and saw Him as their adversary. This did not mean or imply that Christ's death was in response to a loving God's answer to their prayer. In this case, they were not God's elect and rather sought out a worldly judge instead of a Heavenly Father. 


The disciples could take comfort in knowing that God answers prayer. In fact, God answers every single prayer made by His elect with a "Yes", "No', or "Wait a while". Do we have the faith to continue in prayer for overcoming our adversaries through Christ more than that of the Sanhedrin to overcome their adversary through Pilate? God is listening to His elect's prayers and is indeed faithful to respond to them.


B. In Need of His Forgiveness


He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else:


This parable addressed those who think more highly of themselves than others. Righteous here means

dikaios, or "upright", or "approved of God". It is easy to think that this parable doesn't apply to us. We would never claim even to God that we are righteous but our actions betray our intellect because we have not responded to the rebellious condition of our heart. Jesus said this parable to show us that to have the right relationship with God must be centered around Him---not us.


"Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.


Christ begins his teaching by establishing a stark contrast between two individuals. The pharisee was a popular religious figure within Judaism who was looked up to and the tax collector who held a lowly position in this society and was looked down upon. The temple complex is most likely referred to as Herod's Temple since it was located in Jerusalem and was the only temple where Jews worshiped during this time before its destruction in 70 AD.



"The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: 'God, I thank You that I'm not like other people -greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.'"


The pharisee elevated his view of himself by comparing his position to others. Instead of looking to God like Isaiah did in chapter 6 and realizing his sinful condition, the pharisee felt justified in his speech because of what he did in keeping God's commandments. To make this a bit more personal, how often do I engage in this sort of thinking? Do I feel justified in my own eyes and elevate my position because I read my bible and pray? Or perhaps it's going on a mission trip and witnessing to people far worse off than I am.  The difficult thing about humility is that when I recognize I'm being humble then it's gone and pride fills my heart. Real humility is not judging my position by my standards, even if I use the bible as my standard. All that produces is wickedness and separation from people, including God. The real standard is God's righteousness which no one can attain (Romans 3:23). Real humility requires I think of myself less and reflect on God more (John 3:30). Where is my standing with God--not man?


"But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, 'God, turn Your wrath from me -a sinner!'


Christ is teaching people to approach God with humility. When we look to God we recognize our sinful condition more clearly. When we look at people, we deceive ourselves. This is such an easy trap to fall victim to. Christ is saying that we can avoid this pitfall by approaching God with a spirit in need of His mercy and forgiveness.


C. In Need of His Friendship



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


Families were seeking Christ's blessing of their children as we see this practice today with infant baptism and family dedication ceremonies today. The disciples rejected this practice because they reasoned such requests were not worthy of Christ's attention. Yet, we read that Christ rebuked His disciples for gatekeeping who are worthy of His attention and blessing. There are very important applications from this small passage concerning all walks of life that need Christ's attention and acceptance. Christians today act more like the disciples concerning certain groups of people thinking Christ wouldn't be interested in them. Let this passage be of immeasurable comfort in knowing that Christ wants to have a relationship with everyone and bless them in ways no one could ever comprehend or deserve.


When Christ refers to people receiving the kingdom of God like a child, he does not mean that literally. To understand this verse, we need to reason what the characteristics of a child are. Reflecting on this interpretation, we see that as children rely on their parents, we rely on Christ. Do we have this child-like faith to trust in Him and receive His kingdom? The kingdom of God can be a very confusing term but we don't need to understand every single detail about it to be in it. Christ often spoke in parables to describe what the kingdom of God is like for believers (Matthew 13:10-13)


D. In Need of His Fruitfulness



"And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”


If our only account of the well-known story of the Rich Young Ruler was to be found here in Luke, we'd never know he was young. However, Matthew 19:22 shares more information about this account of the man. The man's question, while innocent to him, showed a deeper meaning that displayed the condition of his heart. He wanted eternal life, which made him more likely to side with the Pharisees, who believed in a resurrection where life exists after death.


The man wanted something specific--eternal life. He owned much wealth but somehow felt inadequate concerning his spiritual condition. In this manner, he felt fruitless. There are many passages in Scripture that show us this desire for things we lack or feel fruitless in. The earliest account of this feeling is found in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve believing that they were lacking in some provision of God. In this case, it was their pride that lifted their hearts causing them to idolize the forbidden fruit. Of all the trees the two had access to freely eat from, they wanted the one fruit they were lacking.


The rich young ruler was making the same mistake when he asked Christ this question. With all his wealth, health, social status and all else he had he wanted to make sure he was spiritually set, too. This desire to accrue more was in fact idolatry cleverly hidden in this question about eternal life. It was a fruit the ruler felt fruitless in.


"And 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.’”


Jesus was not implying he was a sinner just like everyone else. Jesus was responding to the man's question with another question to mirror the man's spiritual condition of his heart. Christ presented the commandments to the man to set him up for a hard truth about the meaning behind these commandments, which is idolatry that leads to fruitlessness. To commit adultery is to idolize relationships when one feels fruitless or experiences unfulfillment in their current one. The same holds true for murder, stealing, slandering, and disrespecting parents.


"And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.”


The question was completely misunderstood by the man. He idolized his wealth. He wanted more even beyond his wealth. He wanted to obtain spiritual wealth beyond measure up to the point of experiencing eternal life. His insatiable appetite for more wealth was his idol. Thinking himself to be of a high moral report, he felt eternal life was completely possible since he considered himself, "good".


"When 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.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For 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.”"


Jesus understood the man's fixation on his wealth and told him to sell everything he had and give it to the poor, then promising treasure in heaven. Take a moment to reflect on the powerful implications of what Christ did here. The man idolized his wealth, for he was extremely rich. Christ mentioned in chapter 14 what the cost of discipleship meant for those who were serious about it.


The man did not want to sell all he had, let alone give it all to the poor who were the exact opposite of everything that this man was. Christ did not mean to literally give all he had away to the poor. The man needed to understand

his sinful condition concerning the idols in his life. These idols were preventing him from experiencing fruitfulness in God which leads to eternal life.


"Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”"


I am often acting like this man with the idols I have in my life. I can become so obsessed with what I think I'm lacking that I idolize good things which turn out to be bad for me because the motive of my heart feels that I'm lacking in something that I believe God can't provide--or won't. These are the lies I tell myself and unfortunately have more belief in them than I do believe in God's provision for my life (Matthew 7:11). Christ is telling me through this story that I need to be willing to give everything up, even to the point of laying down my life for Him, to rid myself of all the idols in my life (Matthew 10:39). This understanding leads to seeing Him more in my life and the abundance of His provision that leads to much fruitfulness. In case I ever doubt His promises, I am reminded to reflect back on these verses.


E. In Need of His Fatherhood




1. Anyabwile T. M. (2018). Exalting Jesus in Luke. Holman Reference.