Read Luke 18 at Bible Gateway.
This chapter forms a chiastic structure with part of Luk 17:
1a) Luk 17:11-19, Ten lepers cry for mercy from Jesus + He heals them + your faith has made you well;
1b) Luk 17:20-21, He was asked by the Pharisees of the coming of the kingdom of God;
1c) Luk 17:22-37, Whoever loses his life will preserve it on that Day;
central axis) Luk 18:1-17, Three who are humble:
–1) Luk 18:1-8, The humble widow before the unjust judge;
–2) Luk 18:9-14, The humble sinner before the Temple;
–3) Luk 18:15-17, The humble child before the kingdom of God;
2c) Luk 18:18-30, Inheriting eternal life: the rich young ruler and the twelve;
2b) Luk 18:31-34, Jesus prophesies His crucifixion and resurrection, but the disciples did not understand;
2a) Luk 18:35-43, A blind man cries for mercy from Jesus + He heals him + your faith has made you well.
The B pair: Both the Pharisees and the disciples did not understand something about the coming of the kingdom. The Pharisees thought the kingdom would come with outward manifestation and be glorious like Solomon’s kingdom. They did not understand, that the kingdom was coming in the rejection, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that it would be manifested inwardly, not outwardly (see luke 17, the days of the son of man). And when Jesus tried to explain this to His disciples, they did not understand it, either.
The C pair: What is being sought? How to preserve life to eternal life on that Day, the coming day of judgment. Those who seek to preserve it will lose it. Only those who lose their life will save it. The rich young ruler was also seeking to inherit eternal life instead of eternal death. But what was required, he could not do. That is because we cannot inherit it by what we do to preserve ourselves. The work is only His and the glory in that Day only His.
The pairs, including the A pair, the healing of those who are also humbled outcasts and looked down upon, lepers and beggars, encompass the central axis. The central axis tells the story of three different people who are looked down upon because of their humble status: a widow, a sinner, and a child. These, by their humility, receive what they seek, even though they do not have the power to obtain it in themselves.
This is a powerful lesson for us in our search to walk in our Master’s footsteps and inherit eternal life in the end.