I love to read. Sometimes the theme of the book is revealed in the first paragraph, and sometimes it becomes obvious at the end. This chapter contains a lot of imagery of faith and perspective, which is clarified by the final story.
In the aftermath of Jesus telling His disciples about His second coming, chapter 18 opens with encouragement to pray and not lose heart. I am again surprised by the theme of persistent prayer. This time, Jesus told a story of the impartial judge who gave in to a widow because she kept asking over and over and over. And God wants us to pray like this!
And then Jesus asks a question: will He find faith on earth when He returns?
This leads into a story of a self-righteous Pharisee and a repentant tax collector. What really counts to God – what we do, or the aroma of our heart? Does it smell like a skunk or a candy shop? God exalts the humble.
The disciples had some lessons to learn here. Mothers were so excited for their children to be blessed by Jesus. And Jesus loved the kids! He instructed His disciples to come like a little child who does not expect to give something of great value, but wants to receive what you have to give. Do I come to God ready to receive?
Jesus had to repeat Himself a lot. The rich young ruler, influential and thriving, asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus knew that he did a lot, but that’s not what He was after. Jesus wanted his loyalty. He confronted the young man about his money.
I am rich like that – so confident that I can do something for God, and then flabbergasted when its risky. What would God’s budget look like? He has so much more for us than what we give up,and those blessings start here and now on earth, with more to come in Heaven.
The final mini-stories illuminate this section. Jesus foretold His death again, and the disciples couldn’t see what He was talking about. Directly after, a blind man calls out for Jesus, Son of David. The blind man could see what so many of the leaders ignored! He asked for his sight to be restored, and Jesus immediately granted it. The man who could see followed Jesus.
Perspective is so important to truly seeking God’s plan. It is so easy to try to “do” for God rather than receiving from Him. It is also easy to justify actions as sufficient, rather than keeping a humble attitude. I pray that God will help me to see in the areas that I am obliviously blind, and gain faith-perspective.