Luke 18-21

Prayer and the Kingdom of God

In our previous study Jesus was using Parables to teach His disciples. The Pharisees were listening and they asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming. Jesus told them the kingdom was within or in their midst. Which is it? Both! This means the kingdom of God is here ready to take up residence in the heart of the believer but it can and will be missed by unbelievers and skeptics.

Following this exchange Jesus gives a teaching on the end times and in Chapter 18 he teaches a Parable about praying and not losing heart during difficult times. In verse 8 He ends the parable regarding prayer with a caveat. When Jesus returns to set up the kingdom of God will He find faith? So the first things we learn about prayer are that we must pray and not lose heart and we must pray in faith. Both of these go hand in hand.

The events that take place in the chapters that follow illustrate and give understanding to what He just taught. Starting with verse 9 in Luke 18 we learn that those who trust in themselves tend to pray to themselves rather than God. Their prayers often reflect their life story that brings attention to themselves. Jesus contrasted the Pharisee in this story with a tax collector who was despised and labeled a sinner by the Pharisee. The tax collector came humbly before God and asked for mercy with childlike faith. His faith touched the heart of God while the prayer of the Pharisee never got off the ground because of his pride.

As we continue, in verse 18 we read of the rich young ruler coming to Jesus asking what he must do to receive eternal life. I believe any conversation by man to God is a prayer so we will treat his request as a prayer. In this case we see that his wealth was a stumbling block to him entering the kingdom of God in verses 24&25. So in this interaction we see how important a prayer of faith in God is to entering the Kingdom of God which helps answer the question the Pharisees asked in Chapter 17:20.

The interaction between Jesus and the disciples, and the importance of praying and not giving up, is illustrated in verses 26-34 as Jesus tells the disciples of what awaits Him in Jerusalem which explains His teaching in Chapter 17:22.

This leads us into the next event, in Chapter 18:35-43, where a blind man hears that Jesus is going by and he starts to cry out for mercy to Jesus. He is sternly warned to stop praying to Jesus but he cries out all the more. Jesus stops and asks Him what he wants Jesus to do for Him. He tells Jesus that he wants to regain his sight. Regain, would indicate that he once had his sight. Jesus speaks the word and he receives his sight but makes it clear that this man, although blind, had eyes of faith and it was his prayer offered in faith that made him well. As Jesus travels toward Jerusalem where He will be rejected, put to death, buried, but rise again and ascend into heaven, it is clear that this man represents Israel and those who will see Jesus, and receive Him by faith during the Church age and into the Great Tribulation.

Chapter 19 begins with Jesus calling to a tax collector named Zaccheus. He is small and has to climb a tree to see Jesus so he does what he has to do to see Jesus. Jesus calls to him and invites Himself to dinner at the home of Zaccheus. (See Revelation 3:14-22)

 Zaccheus receives Jesus and his life is transformed because, by his faith, he has made loving Jesus the most important thing in his life. More important than the money, power, and possessions he had gained as a tax collector. The tree Zaccheus had to climb represents the cross. Back in Luke 9:23&24 we read, And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” NASB


As we continue in Chapter 19 Jesus gives another parable that has to do with the kingdom of God and that the kingdom must come first in the heart of each subject of the kingdom. He has warned that there will be a time of darkness ahead so we must be a people of faith regardless what we may face. It is said that prayer changes me. This is clearly illustrated in this teaching. The people had it in their head that the kingdom of God would come when the messiah suddenly appeared and it will. But what they did not see or understand is that the Messiah Jesus must first come as the Lamb of God who is sacrificed for the sins of the world. Those who reject Jesus will be in the dark until they are willing to receive Him first as Savior and then as Lord. We will see this process unfold in the chapters to come, but for now we must realize that the kingdom of God must come in the heart of each believer by faith in Jesus and that we must remain faithful.

May God Bless and Guide

Pastor Dave