The Gospel of Luke - Part 78
Show Faith in our Priorities — Luke 18:18-34

April 15, 2007
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

Last week we opened Chapter 18 of Luke, where Jesus teaches the Disciples about faith, and thereby teaches us about faith. The Bible is very clear about the importance of faith to God:

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. —Hebrews ll:6
One Biblical definition of faith is:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. —Hebrews ll:1
In this chapter we see three different ways we should express faith in our daily lives.

  A.   Show Faith In Our   Praying
  B.   Show Faith In Our   Priorities
  C.   Show Faith In Our   Problems

Last week we started with how we should
A.  Show Faith In Our  Praying.

We saw that we should [1] never give up, that persistence shows our true faith that God will answer our prayer.

We also saw last week that we should [2] not be proud in our praying. We saw the Pharisee who was self righteous, depended on himself and what he did for his relationship with God and the tax collector who realized that he was solely dependant on the grace of God and deserved nothing. It is clear that Jesus was telling us that the tax collector was the more righteous of the two.

Jesus tells us:

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. —Luke 18:14
The third thing we learn in the first section of Luke 18 is that we should [3] not hold back.
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.” —Luke 18:15-17
What can we learn about prayer from this passage?  Though this passage may not be talking directly about prayer, it’s a great picture of what we do when we pray for people — we bring them to Jesus through prayer. Verse 15 says that the disciples tried to discourage parents from bringing their children to Jesus (until Jesus rebuked the disciples). We aren’t told why — maybe the disciples felt that Jesus was too busy or that children weren’t important enough.

Maybe that’s another lesson about prayer — we can (and should) bring every person and every problem to Jesus. Nothing is too small and He is never too busy!  Who should you be “bringing to Jesus” through prayer? Your children? Your neighbors or co-workers?  We all need to be faithfully praying for the people around us.

The parents brought their children to Jesus to ask Him to pray for them and bless them. They realized that there are needs in their children’s lives that only Jesus could meet, things only Jesus could do. Like these parents, let’s commit this week to pray for our children and to ask Jesus to take them in His arms and bless them.

Jesus is also talking about pride in this section.

Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. —Luke 18:17
What do you think Jesus means by receiving the kingdom “like a little child”?  I think Jesus is talking about the importance of us having a childlike trust and openness and humility. A little child will accept something without suspicion and without hesitation.

B:  Showing Our Faith In Our Priorities.

The first reference to faith in the Bible is in Genesis 15:

And he [Abraham] believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. —Genesis 15:6
The last reference to faith is found in Revelation:
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. —Revelation 14:12
Martin Luther said, “God our Father has made all things depend on faith so that whoever has faith will have everything, and whoever does not have faith will have nothing.”

Jean-Pierre de Caussade said: “To live by faith is to live joyfully, to live with assurance, untroubled by doubts and with complete confidence in all we have to do and suffer at each moment by the will of God. We must realize that it is in order to stimulate and sustain this faith that God allows the soul to be buffeted and swept away by the raging torrent of so much distress, so many troubles, so much embarrassment and weakness, and so many setbacks. For it is essential to have faith to find God behind all this.”

We should Show Faith Our Priorities.

And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, looking at him with sadness, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. —Luke 18:18-34
Look back at verses 18-27.  What stands out to you from the encounter of Jesus and this man?  Notice also how critical faith is to making the commitments that Jesus expects of every person who follows Him.
And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” —Luke 18:18
What are some things we learn about this person?  There are several things we learn about this man: The man asks a good question. Apparently he was genuinely searching. Though very religious, he wasn't assuming that he was going to heaven. Maybe, in spite of all his good works, he still had a sense of something missing.

Notice that he asks "What must I do . . . ?"   His focus is on earning entrance to heaven. He wants to know what standard of good works will qualify him for eternal life. This is the way we are all prone to think. We all tend to evaluate whether we are living "good enough" to go to heaven.

Why didn't Jesus respond by emphasizing the importance of faith rather than works?

We aren't told. I think Jesus understood that the young man was locked into a “work your way to heaven” mind set. So Jesus presented him with a “good work” (giving away all his wealth to help the poor) that He knew the young man was unable (unwilling) to do. In this way, He helped the young man see that works wouldn’t get him to heaven.

Jesus' responses to this young man address two critical issues that the Lord felt must be dealt with before this man could come to true faith:  Jesus says:

Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. —Luke18:19
First, the man needs to decide who he believes Jesus to be. Jesus doesn't allow him to just think of Jesus as a "good teacher" (that's how the world always wants to see Jesus, even today). No, Jesus challenges him to decide if he is willing to believe that Jesus is truly God. The young man can't believe until he understands who Jesus really is.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” —Luke 18:22
Second, the man needs to be willing to put Jesus first in his life. This is an important truth for people to understand today. Many people are willing to trust in Jesus as long as it doesn't change their lifestyle. But Jesus comes to us as Lord as well as Savior. It's a package deal — He can't be our Savior unless we're also willing to accept Him as our Lord. Remember the old saying: "If Jesus isn't Lord of all, He can't be Lord at all."
But when he heard these things, he became very sad. —Luke 18:23
Apparently the man left at this point. Allowing Jesus to be Lord of his finances was apparently a commitment he was not willing to make. The Life Application Bible Notes say:
“This man’s wealth made his life comfortable and gave him power and prestige. When Jesus told him to sell everything he owned, Jesus was touching the very basis of his security and identity. The man did not understand that he would be even more secure if he followed Jesus than he was with all his wealth. Jesus does not ask all believers to sell everything they have, although this may be his will for some. He does ask us all, however, to get rid of anything that has become more important than God. If your basis for security has shifted from God to what you own, it would be better for you to get rid of those possessions.” (Life Application Bible Notes)
How about you? Don't fool yourself — Jesus knows your heart!
Jesus, looking at him with sadness... —Luke 18:24
Mark 10:21, a parallel passage about this same event adds an important statement here:
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him... —Mark 10:21
Jesus loved this man and felt compassion for him. But we come to the Lord on His terms, not ours.  It’s important for us to remember this truth. Jesus loved this young man. Why? Maybe because the young man was sincerely seeking God. We need to remember God’s love. His words and actions don’t always appear loving to us. But He loves every person and longs for everyone to be saved:
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. —1 Timothy 2:3-4

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. —1 Timothy 4:10

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people. —Titus 2:11

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. —2 Peter 3:9

How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! —Luke 18:24
Why do you think it’s harder for the wealthy to “enter the kingdom of heaven”? The Bible Knowledge Commentary says: "Riches often cloud a person's thinking about what is truly important in life".

There are many verses that warn about the dangers related to wealth:

See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction! —Psalm 52:7

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. —Proverbs 11:28

But the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. —Mark 4:19

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. —Luke 16:13

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. —1 Timothy 6:9-10

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. —1 Timothy 6:17

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. —Revelation 3:17
Jim Elliot, a missionary who later died a martyr trying to get the Gospel to the Auca Indians in Ecuador, wrote in his journal, "He is no fool, who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” —Luke 18:27
In verse 25, Jesus states how deadly wealth can be to us spiritually. But God is able to work in the heart of any person. His Spirit can still convict of sin and help people see their need for the Lord.

The Life Application Bible Notes say:

“This ruler sought reassurance, some way of knowing for sure that he had eternal life. He wanted Jesus to measure and grade his qualifications, or to give him some task he could do to assure his own immortality. So Jesus gave him a task — the one thing the rich ruler knew he could not do. “Who then can be saved?” the bystanders asked. “No one can, by his or her own achievements,” Jesus’ answer implied. “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Salvation cannot be earned—it is God’s gift.” Life Application Bible Notes
The Bible Knowledge commentary says:
“Jesus’ reasoning [with the ruler] was clear: (a) one must keep the Law perfectly in order to inherit eternal life. (b) Only God was good—truly righteous. (c) Therefore nobody can obtain eternal life by following the Law. The only course of action left to an individual is to follow Jesus in order to obtain eternal life.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” —Luke 18:28
The disciples made the commitment that this rich young ruler was unwilling to make. Jesus promises that God honors our commitment to Him both in this life and in eternity - a real "win/win" situation!
And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” —Luke 18:29-30
Jesus speaks of those who have "lost" family because of their commitment to Christ, probably some disciples were disowned by their families because of following Jesus. Jesus' statement in verses 29-30 may refer to the "family" believers will experience together as believers.
And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.” —Luke 18:31
Jesus balances what He has just said about blessing now and in eternity by speaking of His own death and resurrection. He wants them to understand what is going to happen to Him. He wants them to understand that it is all part of God's purpose and plan for His life. Next week: — we will look at  Showing Faith In Our Problems.