18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
18:2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.
18:3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
18:4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men,
18:5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!'”
18:6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.
18:7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
18:8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
18:9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness [having too high an opinion of oneself is a prerequisite to looking down on others] and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable [Gr: para + bole = “to throw alongside”—a story thrown alongside a truth to illustrate it]:
18:10 “Two men went up [temple built on a mount within Jerusalem; persons literally walked up a series of steps to temple] to the temple to pray [public prayer services held at the temple at 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM (see Acts 2:15; 3:1)], one a Pharisee [often did things to be observed by others as per Matt. 23:5] and the other a tax collector [generally despised by others].
18:11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you [note that he did not praise God or thank Him for His goodness] that I am not like other men [the Pharisee pointed out the sins of others but confessed none of his own; he mistakenly compared himself to others rather than with God’s standard]—robbers [cf. Ex. 20:15,17], evildoers, adulterers [cf. Ex. 20:14; he did not claim to not have lusted (Matt. 5:27-28)]—or even like this [derogatory tone] tax collector.
18:12 I fast twice a week [the Mosaic law required fasting only on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:27)] and give a tenth of all I get [Lev. 27:30-32].’
18:13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance [felt unworthy to be close]. He would not even look up to heaven [looking up in prayer was a typical Jewish posture when praying], but beat his breast [an indication of great sorrow or grief; cf. Jer. 31:19; Lk. 23:48] and said [the tax collector focused on God’s character as One who shows mercy], ‘God, have mercy on me [turn Your wrath from me], a sinner.’
18:14 “I tell you that this man [the tax collector], rather than the other [the self-righteous Pharisee], went home justified [declared right before God] before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
18:15 People [probably parents] were also bringing babies [Gr. “paidia” could mean any child from infancy (cf. Lk. 18:15) up to twelve years old; this word can also refer to an unborn child (Luke used this Gr. word to refer to John in Elizabeth’s womb in Lk. 1:41,44)] to Jesus [parents thought it important to have a distinguished rabbi to bless their children] to have him touch [perhaps because they believed Jesus’ touch would convey a special blessing from God; Matthew adds, “and pray for them” (19:13)] them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked [scolded the parents for interrupting Jesus; sought to prevent the children from getting to Jesus] them.
18:16 [cf. Mk. 10:14] But Jesus [Jesus viewed children as significant persons (in the first-century, unwanted infants were killed or left alone to die and abortion was an accepted part of pagan society)] called the children to him and said [Jesus took advantage of this opportunity to teach a spiritual truth], “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them [“stop hindering them” or “never stop them”], for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these [does not mean that children are automatically in the kingdom of God; children are needy, helpless, and dependent on others; those seeking to enter God’s kingdom must have a childlike attitude (openness, humility, trust, acceptance)].
18:17 I tell you the truth [these words introduce a solemn statement], anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God [the rule and reign of God in the lives of people] like a little child [accept the message of salvation in an attitude of childlike humility; with simple trust, joyfully, thankfully] will never enter it.”
18:18 A certain ruler [rich (Mk. 10:22), young (Matt. 19:22)] asked [man believed Jesus could answer his question] him, “Good teacher, what must I do [man believed goodness defined by human achievement and that salvation must be earned] to inherit eternal life [life’s most important issue; cf. Jn. 17:3 re: Jesus’ definition of eternal life; man recognized that something was missing from his life – he did not have the assurance that he had eternal life]?”
18:19 “Why do you call me good [Jesus was not denying His own goodness and deity; wanted to know if the man was trying to flatter Him or really understood that God is the source of goodness]?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.
18:20 You know the commandments [cf. Ex. 20; Deut. 5; Jesus cited five commandments]: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal [to rob, to deprive, holding back wages of one hired], do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother. [Matt. 19:19 adds “and love your neighbor as yourself”]‘”
18:21 “All these I have kept [indication of spiritual pride or ignorance; man sincerely felt he had obeyed outward demands of the law but had obviously not heard Jesus’ inward interpretation of some of the commandments (Matt. 5:21-48); perhaps he thought so because he was comparing himself with others] since I was a boy,” he said.
18:22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor [the man was trusting in his possessions as his basis for securing eternal life; the man’s riches were a barrier between himself and God; wealth occupied place in his life that belonged to God (violation of first commandment)], and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow [follow as a disciple] me.”
18:23 When he heard this [the man faced the most important decision of his life], he became very sad [grieving and sorrowful], because he was a man of great wealth [his gold remained his god; his possessions possessed him].
18:24 Jesus looked at him and said [Matt. 19:23 records that Jesus spoke these words to His disciples; Jesus took advantage of this teachable moment], “How hard [because wealth breeds self-sufficiency] it is for the rich [word often means things or possessions: property, wealth, means] to enter the kingdom of God [the rule and reign of God in the heart of an individual]!
18:25 [exaggerated illustration to make a point (hyperbole)] Indeed, it is easier for a camel [the largest animal known to those who heard Jesus’ words] to go through the eye of a needle [Luke used word for surgical needle in Lk. 18:25] than for a rich [perhaps because material wealth can make people blind to their spiritual needs] man to enter the kingdom of God.”
18:26 Those [“the disciples” as per Matt. 19:25] who heard this asked [“were greatly astonished” (Matt. 19:25) perhaps because many viewed wealth as a sign of God’s favor], “Who then can be saved [to rescue from a deadly plight]?”
18:27 Jesus replied, “What is [refers to entering the kingdom] impossible [human achievement cannot qualify anyone for eternal life] with men is possible with God [salvation is a divine accomplishment].”
18:28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you [implication is that they had done what the rich, young ruler had refused to do]!”
18:29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left [note precious things listed, a reminder that it costs to follow Jesus…] home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God
18:30 will fail to receive many times as much [not a promise of material riches; some rewards may be material in nature, but greater rewards are spiritual] in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”
18:31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.
18:32 He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.
18:33 On the third day he will rise again.”
18:34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.
18:35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.
18:36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
18:38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
18:39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
18:40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him,
18:41 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied.
18:42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”
18:43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.