Luke 18 recounts three parables – The parable of the Persistent Widow, the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, and the Rich Ruler. When I read through this chapter, each parable illustrates a different lesson to me and has applications that could easily be a separate post for each parable.
In addition to the parables, this chapter has two separate accounts of Jesus interacting with people who were coming to him. The first is found in verses 15-17: “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him saying, Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
At the end of the chapter, in verses 35-43, Jesus heals a blind man. “As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ And he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me recover my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Recover your sight, your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God.”
These two accounts really struck me today. Jesus, in rebuking his disciples for trying to keep the children away, says that the kingdom of God belongs to such as them. I think of my little guys, aged 5 and 3, and the conversations we have about Jesus. Their faith is not hindered or limited in any way by the kind of boundaries that grown-ups are. When they pray they are not concerned with using the right words – they just talk to God like they would talk to anyone else. My son Samuel told me he doesn’t want to wait until he’s “really old and dead” to see Jesus, he wants to go be with him in heaven now! Obviously, I don’t want Samuel to meet Jesus yet. But I love that in his heart right now he is so excited and passionate about being with someone simply because loves him.
When the blind beggar shouts to be heard above the crowd surrounding Jesus, he begs for mercy. I noticed that his request was not specific. Jesus asked him what he wanted to be done for him, and he simply requests to be able to see. Jesus immediately grants the request, telling him “your faith has made you well.” We don’t know much more than that the man was blind and that he was begging. The disciples tried to keep him away from Jesus, I assume believing him to be a hassle. What Jesus saw was his faith.
I have this hang-up about approaching God in prayer. It’s so hard for me to go to him and ask for things knowing that he knows my sin. Some irrational part of me thinks I need to make myself “worthy” of his attention. But Jesus doesn’t measure worth the same way I do. He doesn’t require me to act a certain way, use a required formula of words + actions before he’ll listen to me, or even wait to be heard. The children simply wanted the touch of Jesus. They couldn’t have had any great theological understanding of anything. They just wanted to be in his presence. The blind man wasn’t hampered by his status in society from requesting mercy – he believed Jesus could heal him and so he asked for healing.
Do you approach the Lord like a child? I don’t, at least not often. I think about the words I use when I pray, I feel guilty if my requests seem frivolous, I compare my situation with those in worse situations, and question whether my petitions are worthy of even being heard.
My prayer today is for my faith to be more like a child’s. To strip away all of the baggage that I carry around in my mind and heart, and just be with him in conversation, feeling the comfort of his touch.