Summary: Four incidents in Jesus life give Him a chance to teach about the Kingdom of God.
Kingdom & King
Intro: This section of Luke’s gospel gives us insights into Jesus’ kingdom and His role as king. As we see Jesus react to four different situations, we see that the driving focus of His teaching is the Kingdom of God.
I. Let the little children come to me (Luke 18:15-17)
A. It was common for people to bring their children to religious leaders to receive a blessing. (Compare with people taking babies to see politicians)
B. The disciples wanted to protect Jesus from this "nuisance." They thought that an important man like Jesus would not have time for unimportant people like children.
C. Jesus showed his disciples that the very ones that the world sees as unimportant, He sees as important.
D. He also taught that we must become like children to enter the Kingdom of God.
1. When someone asks what they need to do to be saved, do we mention becoming like a child?
2. I see in my children this model of absolute trust and the absence of a "works mentality." They never come and say, "Dad, we think we deserve supper today. We’ve been good." They expect me to provide because I am their father. In the same way, we don’t have to earn God’s grace. It is a free gift.
II. How hard it is to enter the kingdom (Luke 18:18-30)
A. The ruler who came to see Jesus had a works mentality, not a childlike mentality.
B. Jesus saw through this and reminded him at the very start that only God is truly good, that nobody else can lay claim to righteousness on their own merit.
C. When the man still professed righteousness, Jesus asked him to give up his idols, to give up his riches. The man left very sad.
D. Jesus then taught something that is hard to accept: It’s harder for the rich to enter the kingdom.
1. The Jews didn’t agree. They taught that the rich were rich because of their righteousness. Riches were a sign of God’s blessing.
2. We try to soften Jesus’ words. We teach that "the eye of a needle" was a gate going into Jerusalem or a narrow waterway. But if you notice, Jesus, in verse 27, refers to it as something "impossible." We need to take Jesus’ words at face value.
3. We need to warn people that riches make our entrance into the kingdom more difficult. Yes, you can seek God and find riches. But you can’t seek riches and find God. At least not easily.
E. We all need to remember that it is impossible to enter the kingdom without God’s help. Rich, poor, wise or foolish, we all need God’s help to enter the kingdom.
F. We also need to remember that there are earthly blessings for those who sacrifice now. (vss. 29-30) I have seen this in my own life. Having given up family and friends to enter the mission field, I have found a larger family than I ever could have dreamed of. I have traveled extensively, being received in the homes of strangers who received me as if I were a long lost son.
III. The king and His mission (Luke 18:31-34)
A. Jesus now teaches His disciples that sacrifice and suffering are at the heart of His mission.
B. The disciples need to see that it is only right that they give things up in the face of all that Jesus gave up.
C. The twelve are unable to understand this point at this time.
IV. Have mercy on me! (Luke 18:35-43)
A. When kings in the Middle East traveled through the countryside, their subjects would often call out to them asking for a "mercy." They were asking for a favor from the king.
B. The blind man is among the first to address Jesus by the messianic title "Son of David." The son of David was the rightful king, the one who would inherit David’s throne. The blind man can see what the others can’t: that Jesus is king.
C. The blind man asks for, and receives, a mercy from his king.
D. We learn that the blessings of the kingdom are available to those who come in faith.
V. What’s the point?
A. We need to remember that Luke didn’t write history as a 21st-century Western historian would. He didn’t just write out the chronology of the life of Christ. Stories were grouped by thoughts and ideas, and specific incidents were included for their teaching value. You can compare this with the way you might group the photos from a summer vacation, possibly putting all the photos of your brother on one page and all the ones of your uncle on another.
B. Luke has grouped a series of incidents that give us insight into the kingship of Jesus. He has shown us that entering the kingdom requires us to be childlike, that we must depend on God and not ourselves, that it involves sacrifice and that it requires faith.