This text we just read has been called The Parable of the Persistent Widow. The story is intriguing because of the contrast Jesus makes with His Father and an unjust judge. God is a perfect judge. Why make this contrast?
Parables are everyday stories that shed light on spiritual truth; they compare the secular to the spiritual. This parable is a contrast and an example. Jesus contrasts an unkind, unjust, unbelieving judge to His kind, righteous and faithful, Father. He also uses a widow, an unlikely person, to make His point. Let’s look at the parable carefully, beginning with verse one.
Luke gives us the point of the parable upfront:
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart. Luke 18:1 (NKJV)
The purpose of the parable is to exhort us to pray and not give up.
Three things are crucial concerning prayer (V1).
1. Prayer is expected always.
There is never a time when prayer is suspended or not needed. We should pray at all times! There is never a situation or time when prayer is not essential.
2. Prayer is something everyone ought to do.
My mom used to say, “You must wash your hands before you eat.” (A great reminder in the times we are in!). The word ought that Jesus uses is a strong word. He says it with Nicodemus: “You must be born again.” The word ought can also be translated must. It is not optional. It’s necessary. In our text, you ought to (must) pray.
3. Prayer is a heart issue; we can’t faint, weaken, give up, or quit.
Translations use different words: lose heart (NKJV, ESV), give up (NIV), never give up (NLT). The underlying idea is to weaken or faint. When we pray, we must keep on keeping on!
I believe that this was a real story. It was not made up just to make a point. Jesus says that there was a certain city, a particular judge, and a widow in that certain city. This was the worst kind of judge to bring your needs to. You wouldn’t want him to hear your case. He simply didn’t care about anyone but himself.
Three things this widow had against her.
1. The judge was not God-fearing (V2)
This judge did not base his decisions on God’s viewpoint. He didn’t follow Scripture. He wasn’t a believer.
2. The judge was not a man of principle (V2)
He didn’t care what people thought. He didn’t respect men or their opinions. He wasn’t a people pleaser.
3. This judge was unkind, didn’t care, and was selfish (V2)
The Bible is very specific about how orphans and widows were to be treated. God is their defender.
A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. Psalm 68:5 (NKJV)
This judge was in a position to be an extension of God’s will on earth. But he simply didn’t have time for an insignificant widow. But because of this widow’s persistence, the judge granted her request (V5)!
…yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. Luke 18:5 (NKJV)
Then Jesus makes His contrast clear (Vs 6-7).
Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? Luke 18:6-7 (NKJV)
Two things God will do if we don’t faint in prayer. And one thing He expects of us who do pray.
Two things God will do if we don’t faint in prayer.
1. He will give justice to His elect (V7).
At the beginning of the parable, the plea of the widow is stated: Give me justice from my adversary (V3). A widow would have no voice, no hope, no justice from this judge, but not with God.
God will stand on our behalf. No enemy can stand against us. Jesus is interceding for us at the right hand of the Father. The Holy Spirit is pleading within us with perfect knowledge of our needs!
Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Romans 8:34 (NKJV)
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26 (NKJV)
2. He will answer quickly (V8)!
Last week we were reminded that a delay is not a denial. This widow came many times. We don’t know how many. Her request was granted, even by an unlikely person. Don’t quit asking; don’t faint.
One thing God expects from His elect.
… Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8b (NKJV)
This widow was a person who was persistent. Her faith that an answer was going to come was proved by her coming!
Invitation and Ministry Time
Are you a person who believes God? Are you a person who has faith in a prayer hearing God? Are we people of the body of Christ? We are not speaking into the air. We are not burning candles and chanting mantras. We are not superstitious. The Christian faith is different from other religions. Our God hears and responds!
How can you respond in faith to this message?
I hope this message has encouraged you to persist and expect God to answer your prayers. Now is the best time to call upon God in Jesus’ name. Now is the time to pray! Be persistent. Don’t Give up! Don’t quit!