At the beginning of Luke 18 (verses 1-8), Jesus tells a parable to those who were listening “…on the need for them to pray always and not become discouraged.” (Luke 18:1, HCSB) It’s about a widow who continually petitions to an unjust judge to give her “…justice against her adversary.” (verse 3) We are not given any details about what the issue was; only that the judge was “unwilling” (verse 4), and that he finally gives in because he can’t take her “pestering” (verse 5).
The point of the parable?
Luke 18:6-8a (HCSB)
Then the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. Will not God grant justice to His elect who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay to help them? I tell you that He will swiftly grant them justice.”
Jesus then asks a rhetorical question…
Luke 18:8b (HCSB)
“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find that faith on earth?”
That’s the big question: “Will He find that faith on earth” …when the Son of Man comes?
The rest of the chapter continues to build on this theme of what will be found at Christ’s return. Verses 9-14 is also a parable. It’s an illustration about those who look down on others because they think that they themselves are righteous, describing that in the end a great reversal happens: the humble now will be exalted then, and the now exalted will then be humbled. Verses 15-17 culminates with this point: that “…whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” In verses 18-23, a “very rich” ruler comes to Jesus looking to find out how one inherits eternal life. He’s not looking for any relational dynamic with God, because he already thinks that he has that. After all, he tells Jesus that he has kept all of the commands that Jesus quoted to him since his youth. What he’s looking for is the answer to how one remains alive forever. Jesus deflates the ruler’s confidence by telling him that… “You still lack one thing: Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” After seeing the ruler walk away let down, the disciples in verses 24-34 wrestle with how it is even possible for anyone to be saved. That faith seems inconceivable in their eyes at this point.
But, encouragement comes…
Luke 18:27 (HCSB)
He [Jesus] replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Peter, feeling a little better and a bit confident at this reply says, “Look, we have left what we had and followed You.” (verse 28) The problem is, Peter’s sudden confidence is in the same vain as was the ruler’s. He thinks he’s ok in his relationship with God because of what he has done. Jesus then brings it back to reality…
Luke 18:29-30 (HCSB)
So He said to them, “I assure you: There is no one who has left a house, wife or brothers, parents or children because of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more at this time, and eternal life in the age to come.”
However, Jesus didn’t leave his disciples deflated as He did the ruler. He encouraged them about what He had set out to accomplish, even though the gravity of it would not resonate with them until after it had all gone down…
Luke 18:31-34 (HCSB)
Then He took the Twelve aside and told them, “Listen! We are going up to Jerusalem. Everything that is written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and He will be mocked, insulted, spit on; and after they flog Him, they will kill Him, and He will rise on the third day.”
They understood none of these things. This saying, was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.
Later, in their trek to Jerusalem, they would come upon a blind man. It was an opportunity for everyone journeying with Christ to get a glimpse of that faith which seemed so elusive up to this point…
Luke 18:35-43 (HCSB)
As He drew near Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. Hearing a crowd passing by, he inquired what this meant. “Jesus the Nazarene is passing by,” they told him.
So he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those in front told him to keep quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him. When he drew near, He asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
“Lord,” he said, “I want to see!”
“Receive your sight!” Jesus told him. “Your faith has healed you.”, Instantly he could see, and he began to follow Him, glorifying God. All the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
I ask again…
“Will He find that faith on earth” …when the Son of Man comes?
I think so. But, the more important question is…
Will you be found with that faith… when the Son of Man comes?
Godspeed, to the brethren!
*This article was inspired by a Bible study with some friends.