“Jesus told them a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1-8)
Jesus could have been a master playwright! Fortunately for us, He had an infinitely greater mission. In Luke 18, He taught His disciples by means of a one-act drama. He might have named it, “Give Up?” He set the scene with three characters. Enter stage right:
“There was a widow.”
The Bible talks of two kinds of widows. One is the “widow indeed.” She lacks older sons or near kin to help her. Since ours is self-advocating, this is her situation. Losing a husband in first century patriarchal Israel was a social and economic tragedy. Widowhood connoted images of a marginal existence at best and extreme poverty at worst. They were prime targets for exploitation. Should an unscrupulous scoundrel get hot on her trail, a widow was vulnerable to losing her family property, having debt repayment terms unfairly altered, and being taken advantage of in a myriad of other ways. Ours was the target of such injustice. Enter state left:
“There was a judge.”
To greatly aggravate her plight, Jesus told us the local judiciary was entirely corrupt. Her one hope against losing it all to a wicked neighbor rested with a town judge whose character Jesus masterfully summarized by the use of just two short phrases: “He neither feared God, nor cared about men.” This means he possessed a total lack of concern for the day of judgement (an intellectual atheist) and a complete absence of regard for anyone but himself (a practical narcissist).
“She kept coming to him.”
There were three factors in her case. Two stood against her. Someone was trying to take advantage of her. That’s bad. And the only person who could help her didn’t have any motivation or interest in doing it. The third factor overcame the first two. She had faith. Faith is spelled p-e-r-s-i-s-t-e-n-c-e. Factor one is the same for us. We face matters too big for us. But for us, factor two is entirely in our favor! The only One who can help us is entirely good, perfectly able, and longs to answer our petitions!
“For some time, he refused.”
The “he” does NOT represent God in this story! God loves you! He is perfectly just! He is altogether gracious and merciful always! He is infinite in power to help! He longs to bless you! And He LOVES to hear you call upon His name! Do you still believe that, Christian? Do you believe when, “for some time,” you don’t have what you asked of Him? His delays are not refusals! And they are for reasons NEVER owing to His disinterest or unfaithfulness. Don’t give up, Christian!
“But finally he said, ‘I will see that she gets justice.’”
Jesus did not say prayer is asking and asking. He said it was asking and receiving. He did not say it was seeking and seeking. He said it was seeking and finding. He did not say it was knocking and knocking. He said it was knocking and having a door opened for us. Persistent, trusting prayer in Jesus’ name (not selfish prayer, but God-honoring prayer) will always be answered in the affirmative by God. God said it. That settles it. I believe it.
“Listen to what the unjust judge says.”
If a judge with no regard for God or man would grant this woman’s petition simply on the grounds of her wearing him out by her persistent coming, will not God? Will God not help you? Yes! He will! Will He keep putting you off? No! He won’t! In fact, He will see that you get what you have asked of Him and quickly, Jesus said!
“However, when the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the Earth?”
With such plain teaching, surely Heaven must be asking again, “Who hath believed our report?” The answer to that is unmistakable. Those who seek God persistently in prayer! Those who make sure there are strong prayer meetings in their churches and in our area! Those who shut their doors and pray fervently to our Father in secret! These and only these believe it! But, if the Son of Man returns this week, will He find this kind of faith in our town? His question, not mine.
Nothing honors and pleases God more than our faith in Him and His promises, a faith demonstrated by persistent, believing prayer.
‘Til we finish the race,