Summary: A teaching message on Luke 18:9-14.
Luke Series #79 September 15, 2002
Title: Who is and Who is Not Welcomed by God
Introduction: Welcome to New Life in Christ. This morning we are in Chapter 18 of the Book of Luke in our verse-by-verse teaching series out of that book.
Read Luke 18:9-14
This passage today is connected to those that come after it, although I will only cover this particular parable today. This passage, the example of the children which follows and the story of the rich ruler are all connected by a single theme, which is what we would expect since Luke tells us that his intention was to "write an orderly account" (Luke 1:3) of the story of Jesus.
The theme of this passage is a healthy relationship with God. Jesus tells us through this parable, the example that follows, and the story of the rich ruler, what kind of person does, and what kind of person does not have a healthy relationship with God. This is certainly a subject of the greatest importance, since a healthy relationship with God is the essential criteria for receiving God blessings, God’s mercy, and eternal life in heaven.
When Jesus uses the word "justified" in verse 14, he is referring to a healthy relationship with God. Later when he talks about those who will be receiving the kingdom and entering the kingdom, he is also, in a broad sense, referring to those who have a healthy relationship with God. In essence, Jesus is telling us who will be welcomed into the presence of God in heaven and who will not be.
Last week, Steve Harty was sharing with me about an invitation to dinner and golf he had received to Wayne Huizenga’s private golf and country club. He received this invitation as a result of a business connection. Many of you are aware that Wayne Huizenga is one of America’s wealthiest men. He is the owner of Blockbuster video, and of several professional sports teams. You can imagine that his private club must be elaborate and the dinner five-star, and it was. Of course, not everybody can go to the club and enjoy these benefits. There are criteria that must be met before you are welcomed in or accepted. Steve had to give them his social security number (for a background check?) and a picture of himself so that when he arrived, he was quickly and graciously welcomed in to enjoy the many luxuries available. The dinner and country club were great, but first Steve had to be accepted or welcomed in.
The same is true with being welcomed into God’s presence. In order to experience his blessings, including eternal life in heaven, we must be welcomed in. Not everybody is welcome. There are criteria which must be met. Fortunately, those criteria have nothing to do with your status in society. What are God’s criteria? Who is acceptable to God? Who has the right relationship with him? What kind of person is welcomed by God and what kind of person is not welcomed by God? This is the important question our passage today answers. I believe there are two main points being made in this passage.
1. God will never welcome those who trust in their own goodness.
2. God will always welcome those who trust in God His goodness.
I will explain and elaborate on these points as we cover this passage verse by verse.
Read Luke 18:9
We are immediately told that Jesus was sharing this parable for the purpose of enlightening a very specific group of people; those who were "confident of their own righteousness..." In other words, Jesus was speaking to those who trusted in their own goodness. These were those who believed that they were "good people" and therefore they were right with God and going to heaven. This group was not necessarily limited to the Pharisees or other religious leaders. With the exception of the most profane people of the day (prostitutes, murderers, tax collectors, etc.), most people thought of themselves as good people.
The same is true today. It seems that most people in America consider themselves decent people. They are "confident of their own righteousness." After all, they’ve never murdered anybody, molested a child, cheated on their spouse, or robbed a bank. If you are one of these people, who is confident that they are good person, then this parable is for you.
Read Luke 18:10-12
Jesus often used two people in his parables to contrast each other and make a point. You could not have gotten two people who were seen as more different by society than these two people were. The Pharisees represents the good person, while the tax collector represented the height of wickedness. We are accustomed to having a negative view of the Pharisees today, but the opposite was true in New Testament times. They were the paragon of righteousness. They were the pillars of the community. They were the ones who were surely God’s favorites. If Jesus were speaking this parable to a contemporary audience, he would probably start out by saying, "Two men went to church to pray, one a pastor, the other a pornographer." The conclusion of this modern parable would be a shock because it would be the pornographer and not the pastor who left the church in a healthy relationship with God.