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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Luke 18

 

 

Verses 1-14

Luke 18:1-7. And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

He hears their prayer a long time because it does not weary him. It pleases him, he loves to hear their sighs and cries, but will he not yield to their entreaties? What think you? Shall not the good, gracious, loving God yield at length?

Luke 18:8. I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Faith enough to make such prayers as this; faith enough to pray with importunity? Oh, if we had faith enough to resolve to have a blessing, and determined never to cease crying to God until we had it, we should have far more favors than we have hitherto gained from our God.

Luke 18:9-12. And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

A fine peacock, truly! See how he spreads out his feathers, and struts before God, glorifying himself.

Luke 18:13. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

“The sinner,” it should be; it is so emphatically in the Greek. There is a Pharisee, the righteous man according to his own estimate, and all the rest were sinners. Here is the publican, he is the sinner, and he thinks everybody else is righteous. These were two very conspicuous individuals, the self-righteous man and the sinner; and they are both here tonight. I will not ask them to stand up; but no doubt they are both of them present. Now what became of them?

Luke 18:14. I tell you, this man —

The sinner —

Luke 18:14. Went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

It is God’s usual method to reverse what man does, and to turn things the other way upwards: “Everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” You remember how the Virgin Mary, in her song, praised the Lord for this very habit of his: “He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.” That is his regular way of working, and he will continue so to do.

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 122 and Luke 18:1-14.


Verses 1-27

Luke 18:1. And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Especially, not to faint in prayer, not to become disheartened, or weary, even if their prayers should, for a long time, remain unanswered.

Luke 18:2-3. Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

He would not have interested himself in her case simply because she was a poor widow, he had no bowels of compassion for her; nor would it have concerned him at all that her adversary had wronged her. He did not trouble to discharge the duties appertaining to his office. No fear of God and no respect for public opinion, affected him at all.

Luke 18:4. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

He even boasted of the very thing of which he ought to have been ashamed: “’I fear not God, nor regard man;’ I care for nobody, and defy everyone.”

Luke 18:5. Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

He cared for nobody but himself. He was concerned about his own peace of mind. The poor woman could win, through his selfishness, what she could not get from his sense of justice, since that had no weight with him. Her importunity won for her what nothing else could procure.

Luke 18:6-8. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith, and shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth.

God will hear the earnest, united, persistent cries of his people. His Church, today, is like a widow left forlorn. Her cries go up to God, pleading that he will vindicate her cause; and he will do so. He may wait a while; but the prayers of his people are not lost. By-and-by, he will avenge his own elect. So is it with regard to all true prayer. Though, for wise reasons, God may delay to reply, yet he files our petitions, they are registered in heaven. Their power is accumulating, it is all adding to the great pile of supplication which is the real strength of the Church of Christ. What a question that is, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” He can find it if anybody can, for he knows what faith is, and where faith is, but will he find any? Well, he will find so little, even amongst the best of his people, that the question may well be put; and amongst a great many who profess to have faith, he will find none at all. Brethren, we pray so feebly, we expect so little, we ask with such diffidence, we have such slight courage in prayer, that, if the Son of man himself came among us to search us, how little faith he would discover!

Luke 18:9-12. And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

He could not even magnify his own excellencies without sneering at the poor publican who had said nothing against him, or about him. That is a poor kind of religion which has to look down upon all others before it can look up to itself. What, O Pharisee, if others are not, apparently, so good as thou art in some things. Yet, in other things, they probably excel thee; and if thou thinkest thyself worthy of praise, thou hast never really seen thyself as thou art in God’s sight! A correct knowledge of thine own heart would have led thee to a very different conclusion. It is a good thing that the Pharisee appeared to be thankful for something; but, probably, that was merely a complimentary speech, which meant very little. He did not thank God half as much as he praised himself.

Luke 18:13. And the publican, standing afar off, —

Away in some distant corner,

Luke 18:13. Would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

He makes no reflection upon others; but confesses his own sin, and appeals to the great Propitiation, for the word he used means, “God be propitious to me, a sinner.”

Luke 18:14-15. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.

Were not these children too little, and too unimportant for Christ to notice? Their understanding was not sufficiently developed to know anything that he might say; what was the use of bringing them for his blessing?

Luke 18:16. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God consists of child-like spirits, persons like these children. Instead of needing to grow bigger in order to be fit to be Christians, we need to grow smaller. It is not the supposed wisdom of manhood, but the simplicity of childhood, that will fit us for the reception of divine truth. Alas! we are often too much like men, if we were more like children, we should receive the kingdom of God far more readily.

Luke 18:17-19. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

Yet the ruler was right. He knew not that he was speaking to One who is, assuredly, God, and; in the highest sense, good; but, since he had asked, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ answered his enquiry.

Luke 18:20-21. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother, and he said, all these have I kept from my youth up.

All which appears to be simple enough, if you only look on the surface but when you come to recollect that there is an inward, spiritual meaning to all this, that a licentious look breaks the command about adultery, that a covetous desire is stealing, that the utterance of a slander is bearing false witness, and so on, who is he that shall enter into life upon such terms as these? Yet they cannot be lowered, for they are, spiritually, just and right.

Luke 18:22. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing:

Christ gives him a test. If he is what he thinks he is, he will be ready to obey whatever command God lays upon him. Christ is about to lay one upon him; let us see whether he will obey that.

Luke 18:22. Sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

Now, which will he love the more, the Son of God, or his wealth?

Luke 18:23-27. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, and they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

Yet some men spend all their lives in the earnest endeavor to make it hard for them to be saved. They are trying, as much as ever they can, to block up the road to eternal life, hoarding up that which will be a grievous burden to them, even if God shall lead them in the way to heaven. How much better is it to live wholly unto God, and then, be we rich or be we poor, consecrate all to him, and live to his praise and glory!


Verses 31-43

Luke 18:31-33. Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

Our Lord Jesus Christ often talked to his disciples about his death. Before the time for it came, he foresaw it, he thought and spoke much of it, he even dwelt upon the terrible details of it very minutely: “He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge him, and put him to death.” Ah! dear friends, when our Lord Jesus died for us, he knew what he was doing. There are some men who, without a moment’s consideration, could do a brave notion, but they could not sit down and coolly calculate all the consequences of doing it. They find themselves unexpectedly in the face of imminent danger, they see a person needing to be saved from peril and they make a rush for it, and the daring deed is done. But here our Saviour deliberately thinks and talks about his death, yet he never flinches, or looks back, but he prepares his heart for the solemn event, and sets his face like a flint to go through it all that he may save the souls of his people. We also ought to think and talk much of our Lord’s death, since he thought and spake so much of it.

Luke 18:34. And they understood none of these things:

They could not make out what he meant, it was plain enough, but they could not believe that it should be so.

Luke 18:34-36. And this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: and hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.

The blind man asked, as the familiar hymn puts it, —

“What means this eager, anxious throng,

Which moves with busy haste along?”

Luke 18:37-38. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.

If he could not see, he could hear. So, dear friends, like this blind man, use what senses you have. “Faith cometh by hearing;” so it came to this man, and as soon as he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth who was passing by, he began to pray to him. Oh, that some of you would also pray to him as soon as you hear that he is nigh! Deep down, from your very soul, let this cry go up, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Luke 18:39. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace:

I think I hear them saying, “Do not make such a disturbance. The Master is preaching, and we are losing his words through your noise. What is all that clamor about? Can you not have more respect to the Son of David than to cry in that fashion?”

Luke 18:39. But he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

That is a good thing for you also to do, not only to keep on crying to the Lord Jesus, but to grow more importunate when others rebuke you. If you are seeking the Saviour, do not be put back, and if others would hinder you, be the more resolute, the more determined, to be heard by him.

Luke 18:40. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him:

Jesus had been walking along, the crowd making way for him, but he was arrested by the cry of a blind beggar: “Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him:” —

Luke 18:40-41. And when he was come near, he asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.

A plain question and a very distinct answer. What is it that you, dear friends, want of Jesus? Could you all tell if the question were put to you? What is it that you would have the Lord do for you? Do you know? This man did know; and when we know, as he did, what we want from Christ, we shall soon get it. The sad fact concerning many people is that, though they are not blind with their natural eyes, they are so blind in heart that they cannot see their own needs.

Luke 18:42-43. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God:

Christ his only to speak, and the great work is done at once. The salvation of a soul from the power of sin is not the work of weeks; it can be done in a single moment. “Immediately he received his sight, and followed him.” That is beautiful; as soon as he could see, he looked for Christ, and then followed him, “glorifying God.” He clapped his hands, and followed Jesus, shouting and crying, “Blessed be God, I have found my sight! The darkness is over, and the light has broken in upon my soul.”

Luke 18:43. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

This exposition consisted of readings from Luke 18:31-43; Luke 19:1-10.


Verses 35-43

Luke 18:35-39. And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: and hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace:

“Hush!” they cried; “how can you disturb the blessed Master’s discourse? Be quiet.”

Luke 18:39-40. But he cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood,—

Prayer held him fast. Here is a stationary Saviour, held in his place by the cries of a blind man. Oh, the power of prayer! It stays the onward march of the Son of God: “Jesus stood,”

Luke 18:40-41. And commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.

It is a great thing to know what you really do want. There are some persons who are so blind that they do not know that they are blind; and because they say, “We see,” therefore is their blindness the more intense. I fear that there is many a person, who professes to pray, yet who, if Christ should come into the room, and say, “What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?” would not know how to answer the question. This man did; and he said, very briefly, and very clearly, but in a very full way, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”

Luke 18:42. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight:

Often, the blessing from Christ’s lip is the echo of the prayer which fell from ours. The blind man said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Echo answered, “Receive thy sight.”

Luke 18:42-43. Thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight,—

See, how the prayer, the word of Christ, and the immediate effect of it, all tally. “That I might receive my sight.” “Receive thy sight.” “He received his sight.”

Luke 18:43. And followed him,—

Christ likes not blind followers: “and followed him,”—

Luke 18:43. Glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

They seemed to be greatly impressed, but we shall see that some of them soon spoke in another fashion.

This exposition consisted of readings from Luke 18:35-43; and Luke 19:1-10.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Luke 18:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/luke-18.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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