Study Guide

Gospel of Luke Chapter 18:1-17

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Chapter 18:1-17

Prayer For Dummies—Again

  • Do we even need to say it? Time for another story. This time showing the disciples how to pray.
  • Okay, so there's this judge in a certain city who has no respect for God or mortals. In the same city there's also a widow who keeps going to the judge.
  • She's demanding that he grant her justice, but he refuses. After a while, though, the judge reasons that he should decide in her favor. It's not that he really cares about justice, it's just that this lady keeps bugging him.
  • If this stupid judge will grant justice to a pesky lady, it's pretty certain that God will do at least that much. (Sound like 11:13 much?)
  • The lesson? Prayer is sort of like annoying God into giving people their due. We've heard this before (11:5-8).
  • Now Jesus rolls out another story tailored especially for snobs who think they're something special and treat others as though they're trash.
  • Two guys are praying in the temple. One's a Pharisee, and the other's a tax collector.
  • The Pharisee prays this priggish prayer that goes something like this: "Dear God, I sure am glad I'm not like other people. They're a bunch of stupid losers. They're all greedy, unjust, and hungry for sex with married women. You know, like this tax collector over here. While he's busy sinning, I'm fasting twice per week and giving ten percent of everything I own away."
  • Meanwhile, the tax collector's standing far away and won't even lift his eyes to heaven. He's mournfully beating his chest, begging God for mercy and admitting that he's sinful.
  • Jesus concludes that the tax collector's the moral one. We bet you saw that one coming.
  • After all, "all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted" (18:14).
  • Jesus also gives a shout out to babies. That's right: God's kingdom belongs to these little cuties.

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