Luke 18:1-8 “The Persistent Widow”

Open your Bibles please to Luke 18. We are looking at the first 8 verses today. 

As your finding it, let me ask a question. Is it easier for you to be patient now than it was when you were 5? Do you remember how long it took to get to the beach when you were a kid? It felt like an eternity didn’t it? Well, how does it compare now? A couple hour drive flies by like nothing now, but when I was five, it seemed like a lifetime. Why do I bring that up? Well, partly because as children we were prone to lose heart on a long trip and feel like we were never going to arrive. Jesus knew that as he was discussing the kingdom. In many ways we are like little children when it comes to God’s timeframe for Christ’s return. To us, it seems like it will never come, but God has a plan and a timeframe for His plan. 

 

So, the first thing we see when we look at this passage of scripture is an explanation of why Jesus told this story. It says he told this story so that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. Let me remind us all that this is in the context of awaiting the return of Christ. While this concept pertains to many areas of life when we are tempted to lose heart and be impatient and need to persist in prayer, this is primarily about Christ’s Kingdom being fully consummated when He returns. The truth that is inherent in the statement of reason why Jesus tells this parable is that he recognizes that it is easy to lose heart when waiting for justice, and we need to be encouraged about Gods heart for Justice and His timing for justice. 

Can we all admit that when we have been praying of something for a long time, it is easy to start thinking that God doesn’t want that thing to happen, or maybe worse, He doesn’t love us? We can be so impatient when we are waiting for God to do something we have been asking him to. In most of those situations, we are asking for something that we don’t know is God’s will, so there are times when He has answered, but the answer is “no”. Now, the difference here is that Christ has promised to return and bring justice, so, our role as we do this, is to be patient and to pray. Jesus knows this temptation to be impatient and even to lose heart, so he tells this parable. 

A couple things about this parable, it is called a “how much more” parable. The type of parable where Jesus compares Gods’s heart for something, with a humans’ actions who will do the right things even though they are pretty awful. So, in some respects, he is not comparing a person to God as much as contrasting a person to God. 

So he tells this parable about the persistent widow. She is someone who is pretty nearly destitute as a widow. Most likely surviving on the generosity of others. A woman without much standing in society. And she is taken advantage of. She is treated unjustly. The only course of redress she has is to go to the judge. Only problem is that he doesn’t fear God, and is no respecter of persons. in other words, he is not interested in justice, and he doesn’t care about people. That is bad news for someone seeking justice and needing to be cared for. But, we see in the end, he does give her justice because of her persistence. In Jesus’ story, he basically says, if that is how an unjust judge will generally act, God will surely do even better than that. 

Now, we are going to take some time and look at a few of the differences between God and the Unrighteous judge and hear God’s heart for His people and Justice.

So, first off, lets look at the contrast between this “unrighteous Judge” and God. 

Unrighteous Judge: 

No fear of God: This man had no basis of justice in his mind from which to judge justly. No standard of righteousness.

No Respecter of Persons: This means that he showed no favoritism. He didn’t value anyones life one another, but then it also would seem that he didn’t value anyones life but his own.

Not concerned for justice: That is why Jesus calls him an unrighteous Judge. He had no concern that this widow had been mistreated. There was  nothing in him that wanted to make right what was wrong for her. 

Gave her an outcome that was based on His own comfort: when he finally ruled, it was because he didn’t want for her to beat him down with her continual coming. It was an entirely selfish motive. 

These are the characteristics of the earthly Judge in the story. He was pretty awful, and yet, he still gave justice to this widow.

Now, lets look at the character of God and see if that brings us hope as we wait for His justice to emerge on the earth. 

Where the unrighteous judge was no fearer of God, God IS God, and his nature is just. 2 Chronicles 19:4-7

Where the unrighteous judge was no Respecter of persons, God is a lover of persons. Especially orphans and widows. God shows favoritism to the oppressed and downcast, and as Jesus says in very 7, to His Elect. He is not bothered by our prayers. In fact we know that he longs for us to pray to him and he hears us when we cry out to him. 

Where the unrighteous Judge brought justice reluctantly and because of his selfishness, God brings it in His own time, which may seem long to us, but as Jesus says here it will come swiftly. God’s justice avenges His own character, not our being sinned against. A sin against another Person, is a sin against God first and foremost. So, to let sin go eternally unpunished would be unjust and against His character.

When it comes to justice, it will be served in two ways. Either justice was purchased for someone on the cross and they are forgiven and totally clean, or justice will be served to them in hell as they are paid the wages for their rejection of God. In light of eternity, it will be a swift execution of justice. 

So, here is what we need to be mindful of, especially in light of all that is happening in our world. We are living in a time when justice seems to have no meaning. oppression is rampant. we may be tempted to lose heart, weather it be from seeing the sin that exists all around us, or the sin that keeps creeping into our own hearts. We might be tempted to lose heart, to wonder if God is really going to do something about it. We need to remember Jesus’ words. “ I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.”

It may not seem like it now, but consider an hour in light of a week. Now, consider a week in light of a decade, now consider a month in light of a century. What is a hundred years in light of eternity? 

So, what do we do with this message?

Well, this one has an easy application. Pray!

Specifically, you can pray for these things: 

Pray for Christ’s return.

Pray for justice for the oppressed.

Pray for salvation for the oppressors.

I am going to close by reading Romans 8:12-39

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