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Parables Concerning Prayer
Summary —The Widow and the Unjust Judge. The Pharisee and the Publican. Little Children Brought to Christ. The Young Ruler Seeking for Eternal Life. Going Through the Needle's Eye. The Lord's Sufferings Declared to the Twelve. Blind Bartimæus Healed at Jericho.
1. They ought always to pray. Prayer is a privilege and a duty. Not to faint. Persistence in prayer is requisite to making it effectual. See Eph. 6:18. “God reserves for thee that which he is slow to give thee, that thou mayest learn to entertain a supreme desire and longing for it.”—Augustine.
2, 3. A judge. The judges of the East are irresponsible, often unjust, usually delay justice for the sake of bribes. A widow. The widow of the East, unless she has powerful friends, is absolutely helpless. In India, she is regarded almost as an outcast. It is only the Bible that proclaims God as the widow's friend. Avenge me of mine adversary. That is, redress the wrong I have suffered.
4, 5. And he would not for a while. Because selfishly indifferent. This widow troubleth me. What neither the fear of God nor the regard for human rights could do, her persistence accomplished, because her “continual coming wearied him.”
6–8. The Lord said. This is the application of the parable. Shall not God avenge his elect? If an unjust, hard-hearted judge can be moved by the persistent prayers of a widow, will not the tender, loving, good Father hear the cries of his children? Though he bear long. Rather, as in the Revision, “He is long-suffering over them.” He is long-suffering for them for their own good, and long-suffering towards their enemies in order that they may have opportunity to repent. Shall he find faith on the earth? Prayer is the utterance of faith. Prayerlessness is proof of unbelief. The Lord, pained by the unbelief of even his disciples, shows in these words what a burden to him is our unbelief (see Matt. 17:17).
9. He spake this parable, etc. The persons described in this verse are so much like the Pharisees that we can hardly believe that they were not. Rabbi Simeon, one of them, said, that if there were only thirty religious men in the world like Abraham, he and his son would be two of them; if only two, he and his son would be those; and if only one, that would be himself.
10. A Pharisee … a publican. The one the type of orthodoxy; the other regarded by orthodox Jews a religious outcast. See notes on Matt. 3:7 and 9:9.
11, 12. The Pharisees stood. Stood forth where he could be seen. Prayed thus with himself. Self was the center of his thoughts. Not as the rest of men. Pride and contempt of others are manifest. I fast twice a week. He enumerates his claims on God. He is very scrupulous about fasting and paying tithes (Lev. 27:30).
13. But the publican, standing afar off. Remote from other worshipers, like a pariah. Would not so much as lift up his eyes. His spirit was so humble and contrite. The Pharisees probably had both hands and eyes lifted up. Smote his breast. An act denoting sorrow. Be merciful to me a sinner. A humble confession.
14. This man went … justified. With his sins forgiven. His prayer was answered; not the proud boasts of the Pharisee. “This parable teaches us the spirit that should pervade our prayers. The first parable encourages us to pray, and faint not. The second reminds us how we ought to pray. Both should be often pondered by every true Christian.”—Ryle.
15–17. They brought unto him babes, that he should touch them. See notes on Matt. 19:13–15 and Mark 10:13–16. It was the customs of the Jews to bring their babes to the synagogue for the rabbi to lay his hands upon and bless. So says the Talmud.
31–34. Behold, we go up to Jerusalem. See notes on Matt. 20:17–19 and Mark 10:32–34. Luke adds: All the things that are written by the prophets shall be accomplished.. For some things written by the prophets, see Psa. 16:10; 22:7, 8; 49:15; Isa. 53:1–9; Dan. 9:26.
35–43. As he drew nigh to Jericho. This was on his last journey to Jerusalem, a little more than a week before the crucifixion. Matthew and Mark also give accounts of the healing of the blind beggar. See notes on Matt. 20:29–34. Compare Mark 10:46–52. Matthew says there were two blind beggars. “If there were two there certainly was one.” Luke and Mark only name the one who was most active and earnest. Mark says his name was Bartimæus. For a description of Jericho see note on Matt. 20:29.
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