Story of the nagging widow
- 18:1 Jesus told them a parable. He did it to teach them they should never give up praying.
- 18:2 Jesus said, “There was a city judge who had no respect for God. He didn’t care much for people either.
- 18:3 A widow in town started pestering him: 'I’m arguing with someone and I need you to help me get some justice.'
- 18:4 The judge ignored her. Eventually, though, he said to himself, 'I don’t respect God and I don’t much like people,
- 18:5 but this woman is driving me nuts. I’m going to serve her up some justice so she’ll stop torturing1 me.'"
- 18:6 The Lord told the people, "I hope you heard what that godless judge said.
- 18:7 Won’t God, even more so, make sure his people get justice when they patiently ask him for it by praying day and night?
- 18:8 I’m telling you he won’t hesitate to give them justice, pronto. But let me ask you this. When the Son of Humans2 comes to earth, will he find people of faith?”
Story of a tax collector and a Pharisee
- 18:9 He told this parable, too. He directed it at some people who thought they were holier than most, and who acted like it—treating others with no respect.
- 18:10 “Two men went up to the Temple to pray: a Pharisee and a tax collector.
- 18:11 The Pharisee stood there and prayed silently to himself: ‘God, thanks so much that I’m not one of the trashy humans: robbers, crooks, adulterers, or even this taxman here.
- 18:12 I skip meals so I can fast twice a week. I give away 10 percent of everything I get.’
- 18:13 And there was the taxman, standing a short distance away. He wouldn’t even raise his eyes to look into the heavens. He just stood there beating his chest and praying, ‘God, I’m a sinner! Have mercy on me!’
- 18:14 I’m telling you this, the tax collector went home a righteous man. The Pharisee, on the other hand, merely went home. Those who make themselves out to be a big deal, will get cut down to size. But those who keep it humble, will get honored for that.”
How to get into God’s kingdom
- 18:15 People wanted Jesus to touch their babies, so they brought them to him. But the disciples intercepted them and criticized them for it.
- 18:16 Jesus called the disciples over and said, “Let those children come over here to me. Don’t try to stop them. God’s Kingdom belongs to them.
- 18:17 I’ll tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t welcome God’s Kingdom like a child, well, that’s a person who most definitely will never see the inside of it.”
Jesus tells a rich official to go broke
- 18:18 An official3 came to Jesus with a question: “Good Teacher, what do I have to do to make sure I get to live forever?”
- 18:19 Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.4
- 18:20 I presume you know the commandments: ‘Don’t commit adultery; Don’t murder; Don’t steal; Don’t lie about people; Respect your father and mother.’”5
- 18:21 The man answered, “I’ve kept all these laws since I was a kid.”
- 18:22 Jesus said, “You’re still missing something. Sell everything you have. Then give all the money to the poor. Once you do that, you’ll have treasure in heaven. And you can come and follow me.”
- 18:23 When the man heard that, sadness swallowed him up because he was richer than all get out.
- 18:24 Jesus got sad as well. He said, “How tough it is for rich people to find their way into God’s Kingdom.
- 18:25 I’ll tell you what, it’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to make it through to the Kingdom of God.”
- 18:26 The people listening in said, “Well then, who can be saved?”
- 18:27 Jesus said, “What’s impossible for humans is possible for God.”
- 18:28 Peter said, “Look, we’ve left everything of ours behind so we could follow you.”
- 18:29 Jesus answered, “The truth is this, those of you who have left your home or your wife or your brothers and sisters or your parents or your children—when you have done it out of devotion to God’s Kingdom—
- 18:30 you have an incredible reward waiting for you in this time and in the age to come, when life continues forever. You’ll receive many times over the value of what you left behind.”
Jesus predicts his death again
- 18:31 Jesus met privately with his 12 disciples. He told them, “Look, we’re going up into the hills to Jerusalem. Once we get there, everything the prophets said would happen to the Son of Humans will happen then.
- 18:32 He’ll be handed over to the Gentiles.6 They’ll make a joke out of him. They’ll insult him. They’ll spit on him.
- 18:33 They’ll beat him. Then they’ll kill him. On Day Three, he’ll come back to life."7
- 18:34 His 12 disciples had no idea what he was talking about. The fact is, they were kept from understanding it. For the time being, they were shielded from knowing what was about to happen.
Jesus heals a blind beggar
- 18:35 As Jesus approached the city of Jericho, he came to a blind man who was sitting at the side of the road, begging.
- 18:36 When the blind man heard the noise of the approaching crowd, he asked what was going on.
- 18:37 Some people told him that Jesus of Nazareth was coming.
- 18:38 The man began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, help me!”8
- 18:39 Some of the people who were leading the entourage told him to be quiet. The man cranked up the volume louder: “Son of David, help me!”
- 18:40 Jesus stopped walking and asked that someone lead the man to him. When the man got there, Jesus asked,
- 18:41 “What would you like me to do for you?” The man said, “Sir, I want to see again.”
- 18:42 Jesus said to him, “See again! You have faith, and it has saved9 you.”
- 18:43 Instantly the man could see again. He joined the Jesus entourage, following him and thanking God along the way. All the people who saw this gave thanks to God as well.
The Greek word, hypopiazo, can mean a variety of words including “wear out,” “beat,” or “hit in the face, under the eye.” It’s not a kind word.
Usually translated Son of Man. See note 5:24.
The Greek word, archon, refers to someone in a leadership position – such as a prince, a city leader, or a ruler.
It’s unclear why Jesus bristles at being called good. Suggestions include that Jesus detected some insincere flattery, or perhaps Jesus was hinting that he really is good because he really is God. The goodness of God is a common theme in the Bible. For example: Chronicles 16:34, Psalm 25:8.
Jesus is reciting laws of Moses from Exodus 20:12-16; Deuteronomy 5:16-20.
“Gentiles” refers to the Romans who had been occupying the Jewish homeland for about a century.
The Greek word, anistēmi, is often translated “rise again.” It has a wide variety of meanings, including: to get up from laying down, to stand up, to take a stand against someone, to come back from the dead, to leave one place and go to another (such as leaving this life and going to be with others who have died).
More literally, “Have mercy on me!”
The Greek word sōzō can have several meanings: save, heal, make whole again, protect, rescue.
In the story of the nagging widow, Jesus says that when people ask God for help, “He won’t hesitate to give them justice, pronto” (18:8). Most of us who pray know better. We don’t always get justice pronto, if ever. So how do you think we should make sense of what Jesus said?
Jesus seems to encourage his followers to pray patiently and persistently “day and night” (18:7). It almost sounds as though God needs to be nagged. If that’s not the case, why would God want us to keep praying about something over and over? Why couldn’t we simply ask him once and be done with it?
Jesus wonders out loud if when he comes he will “find people of faith” (18:8). What characteristics do you think he’s looking for when he talks about people of faith?
What do you think is the point of the story of the tax collector and the Pharisee (18:9-14)? Try to sum it up in a sentence or two.
Jesus said “anyone who doesn’t welcome God’s Kingdom like a child… Will never see the inside of it” (18:17). What do you think he means by welcoming the Kingdom like a child?
It seems unfair of Jesus to ask a rich man to zero out his assets as an entrance fee into God’s Kingdom: “Sell everything you have” (18:22). Why do you think Jesus would ask so much of this man when he never asks anything of other people, and sometimes says they are saved because of their faith (18:42)?
Why do you think Jesus calls out the rich people, saying it’s especially hard for them to “make it through to the Kingdom of God” (18:25)? What’s so spiritually tough about being rich?
When the blind beggar called out for help from Jesus, why do you think he added the title “Son of David” (18:38)?
Jesus told the blind beggar “You have faith, and it has saved you” (18:42). How do you think the man’s faith saved him, and from what was the man saved? Was it from his disease and a life of begging, or from hell, or from something else?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus said, “Those who make themselves out to be a big deal, will get cut down to size. But those who keep it humble, will get honored for that.” Can you confirm that?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus praises his followers who left their home and families “out of devotion to God’s Kingdom” (18:29). What do you think Christians today give up out of devotion to God’s Kingdom?