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Christmas Reflections: Walk Through Luke - Chapter 18



The Gospel of Luke tells of the origins, birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.


December 18

Day 18

Luke chapter 18

There are 24 chapters in this book

They bring us through the story of Jesus - the reason for this season.


I also include in the bottom or comments some “extras” like short videos and songs that you may have never heard (or artists you may not know) that resonate with me during this holiday time.


Each post will start with who is who so that you can get a solid understanding of what this chapter is about. I encourage you to read the chapter in your own Bible after you read this. If you don’t have a Bible there are lots of free apps. I use several versions in my studying to ensure I have a full understanding of what I’ve read.


This is my commentary.


Who was Luke?

A physician, a researcher, a traveling friend of Paul (mentioned in Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:24), perhaps someone researching facts to help the legal case for Paul while in prison in Rome, a non-Jew, the only Gentile author of a book in the New Testament. He penned not only Luke, but also Acts.


New characters continue to be introduced - new in this chapter:

* a judge and a widow

* A Pharisee and tax collector

* Babies and children

* A rich official

* Blind man


PRAYER

Jesus starts this chapter by sharing why it’s so important to pray consistently and continuously. Never lose hope. Never let yourself get tired of praying and learning more about Jesus and the pathway back to heaven. When you’re most tired or down are the times when the word “never” seems to be highlighted. You may think God will “never” hear you or “never” turn your life to where you want to be.

This first part of the chapter doesn’t say “pray when you feel like it, only when you want something, or when things are going great”.

It says don’t lose hope and never stop praying and talking to God.


Jesus explained this by telling a story:

There was a widow who felt like her rights were being wronged and so she went to a judge to ask for justice and protection. This judge didn’t really respect people and didn’t care about God either. He simply didn’t care what people thought about him. This woman was persistent (many times) with her pleas for help. She was looking for safety and justice. The judge kept ignoring her but she consistently and continuously persisted and finally the judge said that if she would stop badgering him for help that he’d finally help her.


Jesus told the disciples “don’t you think that if a man who doesn’t even care for people would still help and serve justice, how much more will God do to step in when he hears our cries for help”.


That judge was not a good man and he helped the woman - really just to get rid of her.


God doesn’t want to help us so he can be rid of us.

  • He wants MORE of us.

  • He wants to hear from us.

  • He wants to lavish us.


In Ephesians it says that God will give you exceedingly and abundantly more than you ask for. But you have to ask. (Keep in mind what you ask for. It may not come wrapped the way you think it should).

Jesus continued and told them something they would not understand yet. He said “I wonder who will still have that type of persistent faith when the son of man returns”


FATHER KNOWS BEST

If you have asked something of God and He didn’t answer you - it’s not that he has not heard. He knows what’s best and perhaps what you’re asking for isn’t what is best for you or perhaps it’s not the timing yet.


Don’t stop asking and talking with Him. God never considers us badgering or pesky- if anything he desires us more.

  • Are we persistently and consistently pursuing God?

  • Are we talking with him only when we WANT something?

Please don’t lose hope. Never stop praying.


WHAT IS GOOD?

The next story was directed to people who thought they had all their morals in check, were “good” in front of God and yet they looked down their noses on “common people”. Wow. This is a tricky chapter. We have religious teachers in our world even today who could fit into this narrative. This part of the chapter gave me great pause to think about this and how many people may be missing Jesus because they are focused so much on other worldly things. Namely - power. God is the judge. Not courts. Not governments. He knows the heart of every person.


Read on.

In this story a Pharisee and a tax collector went to the temple to pray

  1. The Pharisee said thank you lord that I’m not like “those” people in my community and heaven forbid that I’d be like this other guy cheating people out of their money. I tithe my money and fast twice a week

  2. The tax man on the other hand was on his knees face to the ground in shame. Not daring to look up he said “God have mercy on me. Forgive me because I’ have done many bad things in my life.”


Jesus told the group it was the tax man who went home and made right with God.

He said if you walk around with your nose in the air you’ll fall flat on your face but if you are content with knowing you’re not better than others - you’ll become more. You can’t lift yourself up to God. God does the lifting.

ALL CAN COME

Around this time people were bringing babies and children to Jesus hoping he would simply touch them. The disciples tried to shoo them away and Jesus stopped them and said “let the children come to me and don’t stop them. Don’t get between the kingdom and me for they are the kindgom’s pride and joy. Unless you accept God’s kingdom with the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”


I have seen this in my own personal life. When Olivia was only just old enough to speak clear sentences she said “mommy Jesus loves it when I say his name”.

It was a profound moment and I asked her how she could know that. She very seriously paused and looked at me almost perplexed and yet confident and said “because he told me”. I knew then she could hear him.

When we get older we let noise of life interfere and we perhaps can’t hear him whisper.


Another time Vincent was drawing at Nana’s house and he delivered the prize drawing.

It said “Jesus. You are so NICE to me”. Mom of course framed it. It’s in the dining room for all to see and to heed.

For years whenever something seemingly miraculous has happened we call each other and remind each other of what Vincent wrote and then we thank God.


These two children are like who Jesus was meeting and who he was talking about to the adults. We must come to him with a spirit of openness and innocence and desire to know him more.


PERCEPTION

The next story He told came from having a local Jewish ruler ask him what it would take to have eternal life. This man addressed Jesus as “good teacher”.

Jesus said “good? Why are you calling me good because nobody is good except God.”

Jesus asked the man if he knew all of Moses’ commandments. The man said not only yes but that he followed them all.


Then Jesus said “well there’s only one thing left to do then. Sell all of your belongings. Everything. And then give the money you get to the poor. You will have many more riches and valuable things in heaven. Then come follow me.” Phew.

That was the key. That was everything.

This man was very wealthy and so this statement made him very sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and unwilling to let them go.


LET IT GO

What are we holding onto that we aren’t willing to give up to God? A job? A relationship? “Things”? I know there are some things I’m clutching. I saw a Ted Talk not long ago. The speaker was an artist. When he was in the prime of his artistry he clutched the pen to draw so hard that he developed a shake. The shake made it impossible for him to draw the way he had studied his whole life. He loved art. He now could no longer produce it the same way. He had to let go of the pen and reinvent himself. He ended up finding new ways to explore and create. He didn’t limit himself to the clutch or the shake.

He let it go and found himself just as joyful doing something different.

It’s easy to hold onto things or people that we are comfortable with. But what if - by letting go - we find something even better? He actually caused the change. He gripped so tightly he altered his physical body to no longer be able to draw the same way.


What are we doing to ourselves that ultimately will prevent us from living the way we are most comfortable with?


Change. It’s hard.

Change can sometimes be amazing. What needs to change in your heart and mind? I know it’s a question I’m most definitely pondering.


All of these questions are leading to the keys to the Kingdom.


How might the changes in our lives bring us closer to heaven? Jesus wanted to answer the man and did. Remember this man wanted to know. He really did desire to go. But...decisions are often very difficult.


Jesus was sensitive to his reaction as he is to us. He told the group “do you have any idea how hard it is for people who have it all on Earth to enter the kingdom of heaven? For rich people to let God rule in their lives? I’d say it’s easier to thread a camel through the eye for a needle than to get a wealthy person to let God truly rule their life.”


This discouraged many listening and one shouted out “then who even had a chance at all?!” I might have even thought those same things hearing this.

Jesus said “it’s not about having a chance. If you think you can pull it off yourself you can’t. BUT you have EVERY opportunity in the world if you TRUST God to do it for you.” God can do things that are impossible for people to do.

Peter was still questioning and said “master we left everything we owned to follow you, didn’t we?”


Jesus affirmed that and said “yes and you won’t regret it. No one who has sacrificed it all will lose out. I mean all - family, spouses, children, homes etc. it will come back multiples many times over in your lifetime - and then the Bonus of eternal life.”


I don’t know how comforting this was to the people. It’s not just about losing “things” as things can be replaced. Not long ago a famous singer and his wife lost their 21 year old son. They cherished him his entire life for two decades. They created memories and the son was even a part of some of the music that this man spent his entire career making. The son went on to perhaps a strayed pathway or perhaps it was just time for him to return to heaven and he died of a heart attack in his parents home. His heart attack also was an open door for the enemy to attack his parents. Here’s a singer who sings about giving it all away, that roads aren’t easy, but you have to just get back up again. It may be easy to sing that to a crowd - less easy to believe it for yourself.

Every day is another chance to get closer to God.

One of my favorite Toby Mac songs is called One World. It says come as you are, there are bumps and curves in the road but there’s no terrain you can’t traverse if you have God with you. There are no wounds from your past that can’t be healed and nursed. We all have just one world. There’s no room for hate. Look out for one another. We are all part of one family from God. Every one of us was made to reflect light. He will forgive every single one of us for every single thing we have ever done or thought of. Come as you are.


That song not only touches on all of the stories Jesus told above, but also stories yet to be told.


<If you’re a praying person - please pray for others you may know who experience loss or sadness during the holidays. The pandemic had already brought far more than the lions share of need for prayer and healing when there is hurting.>


UP AHEAD

The disciples kept walking with Jesus on their way to Jerusalem. They didn’t know what was in store but He did. He stopped them and said “listen - everything the prophets have said about the Son of Man is about to become true. He said things these before they could understand them and before anyone could possibly know these things would come to pass:


1. Many bad things are about to happen to me

2. I will be handed over to Romans

3. I will be jeered at and made fun of

4. I will be spat upon and beaten with whips

5. After completely torturing me I will be killed

6. 3 days later I will rise again”


They just didn’t get it and couldn’t comprehend what He was saying and yet it was plain and simple.

At that time the meaning was hidden from them. In the next few days you’ll read more about what happened. Please don’t stop reading. Please stick with me. I know these chapters and the commentary may be long - but the message is for you.


Back to the chapter.


JESUS WILL MEET YOU WHERE YOU ARE

They finally reached the outskirts of Jericho where there was a blind man begging in the streets. He asked what was going on because there was a lot of commotion and people. Someone told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. The man shouted out “Jesus son of David have mercy on me have mercy!” People we’re trying to shush him but he continued to yell louder “Son OF DAVID!” How did he know? He couldn’t see - but believed that Jesus was the messiah foretold.


Jesus stopped and asked for the man to be brought over to him. He asked “what do you want from me”? The man said - “master I just want to see again”.


Jesus healed him and said “your faith has saved and healed you”. Instantly he looked up seeing Jesus and followed him - glorifying God. Everyone in the streets joined in praising God for what they saw happen.

He just wanted to see. And the first thing he saw? Jesus.

Tomorrow more to come with Ch 19


—-


PRAYER

Lord thank you for your word. Thank you that no request I make to you is too small for you to hear me and for you to care enough for me to not leave me alone and helpless like the widow. Lord you give me way more than I deserve and I know many people. Please help me make sure to never look down on people who live in different circumstances than myself. Lord I know people like the Pharisees in this story above and yet I’m no better than they if I don’t show love to the unlovely. Help me to help others (especially those who don’t know you or are still denying you) hear and see that no matter who they are and no matter what they’ve done that you are for them. You are merciful and forgiving. Thank you for forgiving me every day even when I don’t deserve forgiveness. Lord you have given and taken away much in my life. I know I clutch with a tight fist to that which I love most. My life has been through testing and I’m sure I’m not done yet. Not even close. I ask Lord that you just be with me during trials and tribulations and that you keep evil far from me and those I care most about. Thank you that all things are possible through you and that you are limited to time or space. Help me to have eyes that see you more clearly, ears to hear you more nearly, and a heart that feels you more deeply. Thank you for taking my life into your hands, for dying for me, for rising above, and for your promise to come get me again. Amen


MUSIC - the universal language

The song that resonates with me today is this one by Toby Mac. You can hear the song here https://youtu.be/7QaJyAeRyg4


EXTRAS:

Here are two wonderful scenes from The Chosen. They will prompt your thinking and creative mind if this could have been the way it was thousands of years ago. This is one of the best produced shows on TV. Take the time. Make the time. Invest the time. Watch this program. It could change your life - forever.


Here’s a beautiful clip from The Chosen where Jesus is talking to the children https://youtu.be/GvOpb1sxx8Q


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