Setting

This lesson continues the theme of Jesus’ teachings on God’s kingdom. The three larger sections (9-30) all pertain to the conditions for entering the kingdom of God. Each stresses the proper attitude we should have toward God as well as the incompatibility between the ways of men and the way of God. Only if we change ourselves to conform to the ways of God can we enter His kingdom.

Key Verse

(18:14; 18:29-30)

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Outline

  • The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
    (18:9-14)
  • Receiving the Little Children
    (18:15-17)
  • The Rich Ruler
    (18:18-30)
  • Prediction of Jesus’ Suffering, Death, and Resurrection
    (18:31-34)

Segment Analysis

  • 18:9-14

    1.

    Note at least two things that are wrong with the Pharisee’s prayer (11-12).

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    He justified himself before God and overlooked his shortcomings. He despised others. His prayer was not a true prayer because instead of seeking God’s grace, he was only “praying with himself” (11).

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  • 2.

    What can we learn from the tax collector about the proper attitude we should have before God?

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    We must feel contrition for our sins and realize that we are undeserving of God’s forgiveness. Rather than comparing ourselves with others, we should see only our sinfulness and look to God for mercy.

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  • 3.

    What makes a person self-righteous? What makes him humble?

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    We tend to be self-righteous when we see only the good things we have done and when we compare ourselves with others. But when we compare ourselves to God’s perfection and see our sins, we will be humble.

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  • 4.

    Why did Jesus pick a Pharisee and a tax collector as characters in the story? What is his point?

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    The Pharisees were regarded by the people as pious and godly. They were supposedly more just before God than the rest. The tax collector, however, who represented the social outcasts and sinners, were considered to have no place in God’s kingdom. Using these two extremes, the Lord teaches us that no one can be righteous before God, regardless of how much good he has done, unless he humbles himself and accepts God’s grace.

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  • 18:15-17

    5.

    Why do you think the disciples rebuked those who brought little children to Jesus? Have you ever made the same mistake?

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    They might have thought that little children, as unimportant as they were, did not deserve to distract Jesus from His ministry.

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  • 6.

    If you are a parent, how would you let your children come to the Lord?

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    We need to let them have a personal knowledge and faith in Christ by bringing them up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4).

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  • 7.

    What does it mean to receive the kingdom of God as a little child?

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    Receiving the kingdom as a little child means accepting Jesus Christ with child-like attitudes such as humility, sincerity, and trust.

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  • 18:18-30

    8.

    Why did the Lord correct the way the ruler addressed Him (18- 19)? What can we learn here about the ruler’s view of obtaining eternal life?

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    The ruler addressed Jesus as a good teacher probably because he measured Jesus’ goodness with human standards. Because of his misunderstanding of goodness, the ruler believed that he may inherit eternal life with good deeds. So the Lord corrected him by referring him to God’s goodness, emphasizing that no one is “good” except God alone. In other words, no one can be justified before God by his goodness.

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  • 9a.

    What prevented the ruler from entering into God’s kingdom?

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    The command to sell everything was to reveal the ruler’s shortcoming (“you still lack one thing”). What prevented him from entering God’s kingdom was his unwillingness to forsake all that he had for the sake of following Christ.

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  • 9b.

    How does the ruler’s sorrow show that he still had not kept God’s commandments even though he thought he had?

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    His reluctance shows that he did not love the Lord God with all his heart, all his mind, and all his soul, since he could not give up his possessions for God. Not only so, it also shows that he failed to obey perfectly the command to love his neighbor as himself.

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  • 10.

    Why is it so difficult for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God?

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    It is difficult for those with riches to forsake ownership of their wealth and use their riches for God. Riches pose a great challenge because we are easily tempted to serve our own interests with our wealth and fail to serve God (16:13).

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  • 11a.

    What does this passage teach about salvation by grace?

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    From a human perspective, what the Lord requires of us is impossible to achieve. That is why the people asked, “Who then can be saved?” However, by His grace, God is able to save us and accomplish in us what is humanly impossible (cf. 17:5-6).

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  • 11b.

    In view of the Lord’s teaching, how can we enter the kingdom of God?

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    We must surrender ourselves and all our possessions to the Lord and become a follower of Christ. We must live for Christ and let Him be the Lord of our lives.

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  • 12.

    What blessing does God give to those who forsake all things for the sake of His kingdom?

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    See verse 30.

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  • 18:31-34

    13a.

    How does Jesus’ prediction show His awareness of His mission?

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    He knew that His journey to Jerusalem and His impending sufferings were for the purpose of accomplishing salvation, which the prophets had written about (31).

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  • 13b.

    How does it relate to the kingdom of God?

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    Before the ultimate fulfillment of God’s kingdom, the King Himself must suffer many things and die to redeem His people (17:25; Jn 11:50).

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