by Bill Spaans:
In Luke 18 Dr. Luke recounts several of Jesus’ teachings. We read the parable about a persistent widow, and the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. We also read about people who wanted to put their babies in Jesus’ arms, but the disciples rebuked them. Jesus’ response was to call the little children to Himself. He said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Then there is the story about the rich ruler who wanted assurance that he would get to heaven. He claimed to be a good person, but Jesus tells him “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, the ruler became very sad, because he was very wealthy.
Lastly, Luke 18 includes the story of the blind beggar who received his sight. The text says that he persistently asked Jesus to have mercy on him, to the point that some of the others told him to be quiet. Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked what the man wanted. The man said “Lord, I want to see,” to which Jesus replied “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”
Whew! These stories are a lot to take in! So, what are the common threads that hold them together? Perhaps two truths stand out:
First, it is interesting to note that the judge, the Pharisee, the tax collector and the rich young ruler were all prominent people in the time of Christ. However, the tax collector was despised in the eyes of society. But Jesus saw it differently. Jesus said “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” So, we learn here that God is not awed by our accomplishments or standing. In 1 Sam. 16:7 we read “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Second, these accounts have much to teach us about prayer. First, we need to be persistent in prayer as the widow and the blind man were. Also, our prayers need to be brought before God in humility, like the tax collector. And we need to come to God expectantly, like a little child. God listens to us if we pray persistently, humbly and expectantly.
So today let’s ask God to purify our hearts. And let’s approach Him persistently, humbly and expectantly. If we do so, He will acknowledge us. And to God be the glory!