December 1st, 2006
A frequent fault of human nature is for us to think more highly of ourselves than is appropriate. Nearly everyone would like to be “one of the most remarkable people in the country”. We like to think that we are better than other people, more generous, less dishonest, cleverer, better looking, more friendly, and more valuable. Unfortunately our own picture of ourselves rarely matches the way everyone else sees us. In today’s reading, Jesus told about the Pharisee who boasted to God about how good he was. The problem was that he could only see the good in himself; he was overlooking the bad, and he couldn’t notice that he was making himself into a pompous fool.
Luke’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 18
18:1 He told them a parable to show that they should always pray, and not give up: 18:2 “There was a judge in a certain city who didn’t fear God, and didn’t respect people. 18:3 A widow in that city often came to him, saying, ‘Give me justice against my opponent!’ 18:4 He refused for a while, but eventually thought, ‘Although I do not fear God or respect people, 18:5 I will grant justice to this widow because she bothers me. Otherwise she will wear me out.’”
18:6 The Lord said, “Learn from what the unrighteous judge said. 18:7 Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who are crying out to him day and night? Will he keep delaying them? 18:8 I tell you that he will give them justice quickly. However, will the Son of Man find faith on the earth when he comes?”
18:9 He told this parable to some people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised everyone else: 18:10 “Two men went to the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. 18:11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people, cheaters, sinners, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 18:12 I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.’ 18:13 But the tax collector, standing away in the distance, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 18:14 I tell you, this man went home justified rather than the other. People who elevate themselves will be humbled, but people who humble themselves will be lifted up.”
18:15 People were bringing their babies for him to touch. When the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 18:16 Jesus summoned them, saying, “Let the little children come to me, and don’t hinder them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to ones like this. 18:17 I can guarantee that anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it.”
18:18 An official asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to earn eternal life?” 18:19 Jesus asked him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good, except God alone. 18:20 You know the commandments: ‘Don’t commit adultery,’ ‘Don’t murder,’ ‘Don’t steal,’ ‘Don’t lie,’ ‘Honour your father and your mother.’” 18:21 He said, “I have obeyed all these things since I was a boy.” 18:22 When Jesus heard his reply, he said, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you own, and distribute the proceeds to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Come, follow me.” 18:23 But when he heard this, he was very disappointed, because he was very rich.
18:24 Jesus noticed his disappointment and said, “It is really difficult for people who have riches to get into the Kingdom of God! 18:25 It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into the Kingdom of God.” 18:26 Those who heard it asked, “So who can be saved?” 18:27 But he said, “Things which are impossible for people are possible for God.”
18:28 Peter said, “Look, we have left everything to follow you.” 18:29 He said to them, “I can guarantee that no one who has left house, or wife, or brothers, or parents, or children for the Kingdom of God’s sake 18:30 will fail to receive many times more in this time, and in the world to come, eternal life.”
18:31 He took the twelve aside, and said to them, “We are heading to Jerusalem, and all the things that were predicted by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 18:32 He will be handed over to the Gentiles, mocked, humiliated, and spat upon. 18:33 They will scourge and kill him. On the third day, he will rise again.”
18:34 They understood none of these things. The meaning was hidden from them.
18:35 As he approached Jericho a blind man sat by the road begging. 18:36 Hearing the passing crowd, he asked what this meant. 18:37 They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing. 18:38 He shouted, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” 18:39 Those at the front of the crowd rebuked him and told him to shut up, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
18:40 Jesus stopped and ordered him to be brought over. When he had come over, Jesus asked him, 18:41 “What do you want me to do?” He said, “Lord, let me see again.” 18:42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight. Your faith has healed you.” 18:43 At once he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God. All the people, when they saw it, praised God.
Entry Filed under: Ungratefulness