Vv 1-14: "Prayer is the greatest privilege of the believer. It
enables conversation between the believer and the Father. It complements the
Word, by which Yahweh communicates with His people. There is a need for patient,
persistent prayer, and the Master employed the parable of the Unjust Judge to
demonstrate this principle. There are two parables on Prayer: The power of
persistent prayer (vv 1-8), and the need to pray aright (vv 9-14). The vital
lessons of humility, and sincerity are stressed throughout this chapter. The
Pharisee was a hypocrite; he searched his heart and found only good; he stood
apart in pride; he stood upright in confidence. On the other hand, the Publican
was a worldling. He searched his heart and found only evil; his stood apart in
shame; he stood with head bowed, recognising his need. He demonstrates the first
essential of acceptable worship: recognition of our need of God. Following the
parable, the Master gave practical examples of the principle. He blessed infants
(vv 15-17), explained the difficulty of the rich to enter the kingdom (vv
18-27); revealed the reward of self-sacrifice (vv 28-31). He then instructed the
Twelve about his death (vv 31-34), and healed a blind man (vv 35-43). It was a
time of great instruction; great activity; great importance" (GEM).
ALWAYS PRAY: Cp lessons of morning and evening incense:
Exo 30:7,8. Also, Dan 6:10; Psa 55:17. Prayer with special ref to 2nd coming:
Luk 17:20-37; 18:8.
"Jesus has sent his church into the world on the same errand
upon which he himself came, and this mission includes intercession... the church
is the world's priest? Creation is dumb, but the church is to find a mouth for
it. It is the church's high privilege to pray with acceptance. The door of grace
is always open for her petitions, and they never return empty-handed. The veil
was rent for her, the blood was sprinkled upon the altar for her, God constantly
invites her to ask what she wills. Will she refuse the privilege which angels
might envy her? Is she not the bride of Christ? May she not go in unto her King
at every hour? Shall she allow the precious privilege to be unused? The church
always has need for prayer. There are always some in her midst who are
declining, or falling into open sin. There are lambs to be prayed for, that they
may be carried in Christ's bosom? the strong, lest they grow presumptuous; and
the weak, lest they become despairing. If we kept up prayer-meetings
four-and-twenty hours in the day, all the days in the year, we might never be
without a special subject for supplication. Are we ever without the sick and the
poor, the afflicted and the wavering? Are we ever without those who seek the
conversion of relatives, the reclaiming of backsliders, or the salvation of the
ALWAYS PRAY AND NOT GIVE UP: KJV has: "and not
"[What is the context? In Luk 17...] Then there follow solemn
words about the hardship and difficulties which they will have to face in
seeking to keep true to their calling. He says that if they would keep their
life they will have to lose it. He enforces his warning by reminding them of the
days of Noah and the days of Lot, and tells them in effect that their experience
will be similar. They will have to face stress and strain in holding fast to the
faith. Indeed, later on he will tell them of a day when men's hearts will faint
for fear when they see awful things coming upon Jerusalem. And therefore he
spake a parable unto them, to this end, that they ought always to pray and not
"Think what fainting means. The dictionary says that to faint
is to become weak, to be feeble, without strength -- to lose courage, to give
way. In the Bible it has to do with weariness, for Paul says, 'Be not weary in
well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not' (Gal 6:9). It look
as though not to be weary is not to faint. We must understand what weariness is.
It is not tiredness. Tiredness is a blessed thing which comes from working and
which makes us rest so that we are restored and ready to work again.
"But weariness is different -- it is not a blessing but a
curse. It is losing heart. It is a feeling that things are not worth doing. It
means beginning each task with a sigh instead of a smile. It is being
dispirited, without motivation. It is losing hope. The words of Isaiah can help
us to understand fainting: 'Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the
young men shall utterly fall" (Isa 40:30). The young men represent the strongest
and most virile force in the nation -- those most likely to keep the city, to
hold fast and remain true. Even these shall fail and their awful failure is
described in these words: fainting and weariness.
"On the other hand, mark those who triumph, for the contrast
is a revelation: 'They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they
shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they
shall walk and not faint (Isa 40:31). Here is a definition by contrast: to faint
is to be without eagle wings; not to run, not even to walk. In Bible terms it is
an awful disability; a paralysis leading to impotence; withered by weakness and
wasted by weariness.
"Jesus says that if disciples desire to avoid fainting they
must pray. He does not seem to admit of any middle position. It is one thing or
the other. If men pray they will not faint and if they do faint it will be
because they have ceased to pray" (GD).
THERE WAS A JUDGE: For Israel during her long exile and
persecutions, God has become a harsh "Judge" and no longer a loving
AND THERE WAS A WIDOW: And Israel has become the
"widow" deprived of her Husband!
ADVERSARY: "Antidikos" = an opponent at law.
God, a judge of widows (Psa 68:5). Cp idea, Lam 1:1; Isa 54:4.
God's vengeance in Isa 59:14-18; 62:4,6,7,11.
Other examples of importunity: Luk 18:39,42; Mat 9:27-29;
15:22-28; Mar 4:38; 2Co 12:8; 2Pe 3:9,15; Rev 6:10; Psa 74:10; 94:3.
// Jam 5:4; Gen 4:10.
HIS CHOSEN ONES: Repentance of "elect" nation of Israel
in last days.
WHO CRY OUT TO HIM DAY AND NIGHT: Isa 62:6,7.
//Mat 7:13,14; 24:37.
FAITH: An individual, persistent faith, as that of the
widow. The faith of v 42.
WILL HE FIND FAITH?: Answered in Rev 13:10: "Here is...
faith of saints."
ON THE EARTH: Or, "in the Land".
"This question seems to grow more significant as we increase
our knowledge of history and humanity. The Truth has come to light many times
and been lost again. It might very easily be submerged once more in these
closing days of the Gentiles.
"It is the recognition of this grim possibility that makes
some of the older brethren so insistent in their exhortations to 'Hold fast.'
Many of us, if we were dying and hardly able to speak, would make those two
words last our last message to the Brotherhood. We are convinced that the saving
truth of the Gospel has been brought to light, and the greatest need for these
days is that we should hold fast to the Faith and build up character on this
"We differ in temperament, and we may differ in judgment as to
the right course to pursue in time of danger, but among those who have taken an
active part in the Truth's welfare for the past thirty years there will be
absolute agreement as to the need of this exhortation to 'Hold fast' "
TO SOME WHO WERE CONFIDENT OF THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND
LOOKED DOWN ON EVERYBODY ELSE: "Human nature is such that we so easily fall
into this trap. It is so easy to think that we are right, and that therefore we
are righteous -- and despise those who have not yet found the truth as revealed
in the gospel. We know this is not the way it should be and this parable that
follows (vv 10-14) is very revealing. Who do we relate to in this parable? Well,
the publican, of course. But is that who we are? Pro 30:12. Isa 65:2-5 (esp v
// Pro 30:12,13; Isa 65:5; Eze 33:13.
Luke's interest in tax-collectors: Luk 3:12; 5:27; 7:29; 15:1;
18:10; 19:2. "Tax-collector" synonymous with "sinner": Luk 5:30; Mat 9:11; Mar
2:16. Rabbis considered them a criminal class, to whom it was even permissible
to lie (LTJM 1:516). But Christ found friends among this class (Luk
Vv 11,12: The prideful approach: the Pharisee was
self-centered and conceited. His morality was based on negatives. His worship
was based on externals.
I THANK YOU THAT I AM NOT LIKE OTHER MEN... LIKE THIS TAX
COLLECTOR: "Pride is so subtle that if we aren't careful we'll be proud of
our humility. When this happens our goodness becomes badness. Our virtues become
vices. We can easily become like the Sunday School teacher who, having told the
story of the Pharisee and the publican, said, 'Children, let's bow our heads and
thank God we are not like the Pharisee!' "
I FAST TWICE A WEEK: Strict Pharisees would fast every
Monday and Thursday, during weeks between Passover and Pentecost, and again
between Feast of Tabernacles and Dedication of Temple (Temple 198).
The penitent approach: The publican was humble before God and
man, and was more aware of his own sins than those of others. He was not
concerned about obtaining material wealth. He was conscious of his standing
AT A DISTANCE: Like the lepers: Luk 17:12.
WOULD NOT EVEN LOOK UP: Cp Psa 34:18; 40:12.
BEAT HIS BREAST: A sign of sorrow and humility (Luk
One day Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, visited a prison
and talked with each of the inmates. There were endless tales of innocence, of
misunderstood motives, and of exploitation. Finally the king stopped at the cell
of a convict who remained silent. "Well," remarked Frederick, "I suppose you are
an innocent victim too?" "No, sir, I'm not," replied the man. "I'm guilty and
deserve my punishment." Turning to the warden, the king said, "Here, release
this rascal before he corrupts all these fine innocent people in
JUSTIFIED: Though "at a distance" (v 13), he was
WERE ALSO BRINGING: "Prosphero" = to offer, as a
sacrifice! Just previously (Mat 19:1-12; Mar 10:1-12), Jesus was talking about
the sanctity of marriage; the children are a large part of his reason.
TO HAVE HIM TOUCH THEM: All the occasions of Jesus
touching, or being touched, in the context of healing (notice that not one of
them is in John's gospel): Mat 8:3,15; 9:20,21,29; 14:36; 17:7; 20:34; Mark
1:41; 3:10; 5:27,28,30,31; 6:56; 7:33; 8:22; 10:13; Luk 5:13; 6:19; 7:14,39;
8:44-47; 18:15; 22:51.
Note: faith (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38), not ignorance
(Eph 4:18), is essential to salvation.
TO SUCH AS THESE: That is, to those who are similar (in
some respect) to these. Similarity? A childlike faith: cp Mat 19:23; Mar 10:23;
Luk 18:24; 1Pe 2:2; 1Co 14:20; Mat 18:3,4; Psa 131:2.
RECEIVE THE KINGDOM OF GOD LIKE A LITTLE CHILD: But of
course this cannot mean that the kingdom is closed to those who would first come
to it as adults!
A CERTAIN RULER: Simply called "a man" in Mat 19:16;
Suggestion: the rich young ruler was Joseph Barnabas -- who
later does in fact heed the exhortation of Jesus (Acts 4:36,37).
WHAT MUST I DO?: Note stress on the word
INHERIT: There was no good work learned from any good
rabbi that could EARN eternal life. Cp Rom 9:31,32.
NO ONE IS GOOD: There was no "good" work, or any
combination of "good" works, learned from any "good" rabbi that could EARN
eternal life (cp Rom 9:31,32). Possibly a roundabout argument also: 'But if I
really am good, then I must be from GOD!'
YOU STILL LACK ONE THING: An allusion to Psa 23:1, LXX:
"I shall want (or lack) nothing." The rich young man lacked but one thing -- ie
Yahweh as his shepherd. Thus he lacked all things, ie all things meaningful. The
remedy: "Come, and follow ME."
AND YOU WILL HAVE TREASURE IN HEAVEN: "The crisis will
come at last and it may come any moment. The slave of instinct has to give it up
and everything. He has to lie down and die; he has to take time to do that,
although he could spare so little for Christ; and then where are the wealth and
the honour, and all the fine things that he has set his heart upon? All gone;
nothing left behind -- absolutely nothing! He goes to corruption; he descends to
the grave without a hope. Having laid up no treasure in Heaven, he is buried a
spiritual bankrupt, for whom there is no prospect but tribulation and wrath and
anguish. That is a fine harvest for a man to reap! That is a fine result for a
man to work so hard, and so diligently and so skilfully for! Dangerous!
dangerous! dangerous! to put off Christ with the idea that we are going to do
differently 'by-and-by.' We don't know whether we will have a 'by-and-by' to do
different in. The only time we can reckon upon is the present; and that time is
not our own at all if we are Christ's" (SC 66).
VERY SAD... GREAT WEALTH: Few would think to link these
two concepts so closely together!
A MAN OF GREAT WEALTH: "He had great wealth" (Mat
19:22; Mar 10:22). Or rather, his wealth "had" him (Deu 6:10-13). "If your hand
offends you, cut it off" (Mar 9:43). Ct Mat 20:34; Mar 10:52; Luk 18:43: the
rich man loses all; the poor man gains all. Also ct Zaccheus, a wealthy man who
gave it up (Luk 19:6,8).
Examples of prophetic reluctance: Exo 4:10; Jer 1:6; Eze 3:14;
Jon 1:3; 1Ki 19:10; Luk 5:8,10; 9:59; 18:23; Act 13:13; 18:9. Ct Isa
THE RICH: Or "those who TRUST in riches" (Mar 10:24).
It is possible righteously to have riches, but not to trust in them: Abraham,
David, Zaccheus. A theme of Christ's parables: Luk 12:15-21; 16:19-31.
IT IS EASIER FOR A CAMEL TO GO THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE
THAN FOR A RICH MAN TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD: "The proverbial saying...
refers to the absolutely impossible... Attempts to weaken this hyperbole by
taking 'needle,' not as a sewing needle, but as a small gate through which an
unladen camel could just squeeze and only on his knees are misguided. This
conjecture may come from some of Jerome's allegorizing" (EBC).
An old Heb proverb: "Open a needle's eye to God, and God will
open to you a gate large enough for camels."
"These words of Jesus covered not only the rich but the poor
also. The rich man glorying in his riches is far from the Kingdom of God, but
the poor man trusting in his hard-earned pittance is no nearer. Indeed the poor
man may clutch his few pounds more tightly than a rich man his thousands. The
emphasis in each is upon the same thing. Our trust must not be centred upon
riches, great or small, or upon honour, or men, but upon God" (MP).
WHO THAN CAN BE SAVED?: For every man of this world is
"rich" is something: "rich" in pride, if nothing else.
UP TO JERUSALEM: His face set like a flint (Isa 50:7).
The good shepherd going before his sheep (Joh 10:4).
Was Jesus leaving (Mat 20:29; Mar 10:46) or approaching (Luk
18:35) Jericho? Prob he was between an old part of the city and the new part of
the city -- hence the difference.
JERICHO: The city of palm trees, who lift up righteous
hands to heaven (Psa 92:12; Song 7:7). Also the city of the curse (Jos
A BLIND MAN: Named Bartimaeus (Mar 10:46). There were
actually two beggars (Mat 20:29). Typifies the blind Gentiles, healed by Christ,
the "Light of the world".
BEGGING: A man must be conscious of his poverty before
he starts to beg.
OF NAZARETH: The despised Branch of healing (Mat
2:23n). Nazareth = "netzer", branch: cp Isa 11:1 ("Branch out of root of
HE SHOUTED ALL THE MORE: Like the widow in Luk
ORDERED THE MAN TO BE BROUGHT TO HIM: A second-hand
call: a great test of faith.
Mar 10:50 adds "Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his
feet and came to Jesus."
AND FOLLOWED JESUS: He left the city of the curse (v
35), and followed Jesus to the city of blessing!