This chapter starts with two parables that seem to flesh out a little more the teaching that concluded the last chapter.
The parable of the Widow and the Unrighteous Judge (vv. 1-8) highlights a certain perseverance on behalf of the widow and a certain unrighteous judge that can be contrasted with God, who is always the Just Judge. In one way, this parable that highlights God’s justice, is then applied in the next parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (vv. 9-14). This parable is remarkably clear and the omnipresence of God only outs more emphasis on the difference between the disposition of the Pharisee and that of the Tax Collector. Notice the way Jesus ends this parable (v. 14): it’s pretty clear how God judges and what God expects.
There is a brief interlude that follows: Jesus blessing the children (vv. 15-17). Again, Jesus emphasizing the qualities that are necessary to gain entry into the Kingdom: the trust and dependence on God that a child has on his/her parents; humility; and without guile. It’s a beautiful portrait of Jesus too- embracing the children!
Jesus then has an interaction with the rich young man (vv. 18-30). This interaction is complex and has many layers of meaning and purpose. Notice first the reiteration of the 10 commandments (or at least a portion of them). But then notice that Jesus ups the ante: he supersedes the 10 commandments with the New Commandment: total Gospel poverty, dedication to the preaching of the Gospel, and the danger of attachment to earthly things. This particular episode closes with a admonition and commendation for those who achieve this detachment and work at it: treasures in Heaven.
Following this we have Jesus making the third foretelling of his own death and resurrection. With this chapter Jesus is approaching, ever more closely, his impending death. Once again he quotes the Old Testament scripture to verify the validity of his own claim of not only being the Messiah, but of being the Messiah that was, in fact, prophesied in the Old Testament. You gotta wonder if the Apostles, disciples and those Jesus taught haven’t gotten by now, would they ever?
The chapter closes then with Jesus healing a blind man. Notice the sequence of events and the words spoken. Jesus has just got finished telling the Apostles that he was the Messiah and that is death is approaching. Then we have this blind man calling Jesus, the Son of David, which is a Messianic title because the Jews thought that the Messiah would come from the house of David. As if to verify both his own words and the words of the blind man, Jesus heals him: and only God can heal. Jesus is a pretty smooth operator! What would we expect though: he’s the Son of God and the Savior of the World!
Point for Prayer
“Jesus, model of prayer, you constantly went aside, sometimes all night, in order to pray. You were persistent, humble, and simple in your approach to praying. You taught these values in your sermons. Fill me with the grace of prayer and the attitudes that make prayer effective. Turn my heart always to you” (164).