The Parable of the Persistent Widow
The main characters in this parable are the widow and a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.
Sounds like this judge is a total jerk who doesn’t care what others think and will do what he believes is right in his own mind.
Anyway, onto the story.
The widow comes to this judge asking for justice, but gets denied. But the widow kept trying. Over and over again.
However, the judge denies the request. Over and over again.
Until, one day, the judge finally gets annoyed over this widow’s unrelenting persistence.
And the judge finally relents and grants the request.
Jesus’s lesson here is the following:
Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?Luke 18:6-7
I love parables where Jesus performs a comparison of the earthly with the heavenly.
If the worst of judges takes such a long time and eventually gives in, think about how much better things will be with the best of judges. In our case, we have God, the heavenly judge. The best judge.
The lesson here is to always pray and not lose heart.
The Pharisee and the Tax Collector
This story features two people who went into the temple to pray: a Pharisee and a tax collector.
The Pharisee thanks God that he’s not like other inferior men, even citing the tax collector next to him as an example. He lists out all the good things he does to “prove” that he’s better than average.
On the other hand, the tax collector straight up admits he’s a sinner and asks for mercy.
Jesus’s lesson is the following:
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.Luke 18:14
I’m going to make up a term: opposite logic. To be exalted, you must humble yourself. I found this to be a common theme in Jesus’s teaching, and there are several examples in this chapter alone.
The Pharisee who exalted himself will be humbled, but the tax collector who humbled himself will be exalted.
They got the opposite of what they did.
Let the Children Come to Me
Jesus loves kids. He even emphasizes this with his famous prefix truly I say to you. Any time He uses those words, pay extra attention.
Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.Luke 18:17
We see a bit more opposite logic here. Jesus is speaking this to adults (His disciples) who tried to deny the kids access to Jesus.
Humans respect the hierarchy of age and rank. Adults get more privileges than kids. Just look at the movie rating system: G, PG, PG-13, R. Or rides at amusement parks where there are height requirements. We unlock privileges with time.
But Jesus flips this on its head by saying kids have amazing privilege due to their innocence. Which is counterintuitive.
The Rich Ruler
We don’t know who this rich ruler is, but whoever he is, he seems like quite the decent guy.
He’s kept all of the commandments since his youth. He even humbles himself to ask for Jesus’s teaching.
Honestly, I would vote for this guy to be in a position of power today over any other contemporary ruler.
Even Jesus says that he lacks only one thing. That means the rich ruler has all his bases covered, which really is quite impressive.
But the one thing he lacks unfortunately is a deal-breaker when it comes to entering the kingdom of God.
One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.Luke 18:22
This is blatant opposite logic. Jesus is telling a rich person—who probably has everything you can imagine—that he still lacks one thing.
Diving another layer in, Jesus says the rich person lacks lacking things. Wow, we can chain the word lack. That’s wack.
The broader lesson here is that by advancing yourself in the world, it becomes harder for you to enter the kingdom of God because of the worldly attachments you form. Of course, it’s not saying that having great wealth and power renders you ineligible to enter the kingdom of God. It does make it significantly harder due to the temptation to idolize the creation over the creator.
Similar to how they say “buyer beware”, I’ll say “worldliness-seeker beware”.
Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time
I always found this to be quite interesting. Jesus will tell his twelve disciples something they don’t yet understand, but will still tell it to them.
I suppose this is like parents who tell kids things that they don’t expect to understand today but will later down the line.
Jesus Heals a Blind Beggar
This story has the same lesson as the parable of the persistent widow: be persistent.
When the blind man realizes that Jesus is coming, he starts crying out to Jesus.
If I may use a bit of my imagination, I can see (terrible pun, but still intended) that the blind man is probably doing everything in his power to get Jesus’s attention.
First of all, it’s impressive that as a blind person, he is aware of Jesus’s existence. That means Jesus is quite famous, like a celebrity. And the blind man is Jesus’s biggest fan.
Second, the blind man is probably resorting to being loudly obnoxious to the point that others are rebuking him to shut up. But he refuses to let down. When your greatest hero is so close, how can you back down? He’s heard so much about Jesus and desperately wants Jesus. Everything about being polite has gone out the window. So fervent.
Third, the blind man has extraordinary faith. Back in the day, if you had some kind of disease, people thought that your ancestors sinned. (This is, of course, not true.) Day and night he probably has been ridiculed by the people around him. And at best case, people pity him. But none of this stopped him. He has so much (blind) faith in Jesus that it made him well.
The irony is that the blind man saw what most of us don’t see. He saw that Jesus was all you needed in this world. So many others around him have healthy eyes, but they just stuck to their daily lives, and they missed out.
Just to throw in a bit of opposite logic here. Having healthy eyes doesn’t mean you can see clearly and having healthy ears doesn’t mean you can hear well.
Be Persistent: Be just like the persistent widow or the blind man. The reason Jesus uses abnormal characters to tell the story is to illustrate that if even they can do it, anyone can. I will say that they do have one advantage over “normal” people is that they are desperate. We need to be more desperate, otherwise we’ll miss out.
Opposite Logic: Many things about faith are counterintuitive. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled and vice versa. The last shall be the first and vice versa. We need to unlearn what we have learned in this world to understand God’s way.
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