In this post we are going to look a bit deeper at some of the passages in Luke chapter 18 and see what we can find out. We will begin at verse 2 from the Good News Translation (this is Jesus speaking):
“In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. And there was a widow in that same town who kept coming to him and pleading for her rights, saying, ‘Help me against my opponent!’ For a long time the judge refused to act, but at last he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or respect people, yet because of all the trouble this widow is giving me, I will see to it that she gets her rights. If I don’t, she will keep on coming and finally wear me out!’ And the Lord continued, Listen to what that corrupt judge said. Now, will God not judge in favor of his own people who cry to him day and night for help? Will he be slow to help them? I tell you, he will judge in their favor and do it quickly.“
The judge could have ignored the woman, but he could not ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
What can we learn here? Firstly, God is not like the unjust judge. We do not need to wear Him down by our continually nagging to get things done. Secondly, we need to understand the situation that this woman was in. In the male dominated society that she lived in, losing a husband was very serious (not just because of the sadness that it caused). This woman had, in effect, lost her voice and so when she went to the judge, God spoke on her behalf. It was God who gently kept the pressure on the judge. The judge could have ignored the woman, but he could not ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit, telling him to give her justice. So in the end, when he could stand it no more, the judge acted. God will do the same for us, if we will trust Him. He will not only act quickly when we come to Him, He will also intervene on our behalf, as He did for this woman.
Can that really be how we are supposed to humble ourselves?
Next, Jesus tells of two people who go to the temple to pray. The first, a pharisee, thanks God that he is better than other people. It isn’t really a prayer at all, just prideful boasting. Let’s read from the J. B. Phillips version, what happened with the second man (verse 13):
“The tax-collector stood in a distant corner, scarcely daring to look up to Heaven, and with a gesture of despair, said, ‘God, have mercy on a sinner like me.’ I assure you that he was the man who went home justified in God’s sight, rather than the other one.“
Those are Jesus‘ words, but can that really be how we are supposed to humble ourselves – by confessing what terrible sinners we are? Surely that can’t be right? Aren’t we the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus? The answer is that yes, we are the righteousness of God; however when Jesus told this parable, no-one had been made the righteousness of God – yet. This was prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, this was prior to the new birth. Our instructions for humbling ourselves are found in 1 Peter 5:6-10. Let’s read those verses from the Amplified Bible:
“Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you, casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.“
Jesus was following God’s instructions.
Moving on in Luke 18, in verse 35 we find Jesus nearing Jericho. But why was Jesus going to Jericho? Jesus was going there for a very specific reason – to meet Zacchaeus (see chapter 19:1-10). Jesus may or may not have known why He was going to Jericho for at this stage, but it was all part of God’s plan and Jesus was following God’s instructions. Near Jericho, Jesus encountered a blind man and asked him what he wanted Him to do, “What do you want me to do for you?” (The Expanded Bible). This may seem like a strange question and Jesus’ disciples may well have been tempted to say “Er, Lord, I’m pretty sure he’s blind!“. But they kept quiet. Jesus was not asking an obvious question for no reason, He needed the man to say what He wanted Jesus to do. If he’d been like many Christians today, he would probably have said something like, “Well, I’ve got a bit of a cold, I wonder if you could possibly heal it……if it be your will?” But this man wasn’t like that, he had faith for his eyesight to be restored and he answered Jesus, “Lord, I want to see“. To which Jesus replied, “Then see. You are healed because you believed [Your faith has healed/saved you]“.
To conclude this study of Luke 18, let’s read the final verse – verse 43, “And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God“. Notice that the people gave praise to God because the man received his sight. Those people did not give God praise for how well the man had handled being blind. As I said in my post ‘How To Handle The Curse‘, people do not need to see how well we can put up with negative circumstances. They need to see how they, like us, can experience victory over them.
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
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