Some time ago, a friend of mine was being cruelly and unfairly harassed by people who wanted to do him harm. In his despair, he wrote, “I do not know what to do except pray. I have eternal life and I am spiritually in peace, but I am very depressed and upset.” When we suffer like this, we long for Jesus to come and establish His just rule over the world.
Having taught His disciples about His return (Luke 17:20–37), Jesus now tells a parable about how they should live while they wait for Judgment Day. There are two characters in the parable, a hero and an adversary.
First, we meet a judge. His work is to ensure that the wicked are punished and the innocent are vindicated. However, this judge has become insensitive to the suffering of other people. He neither fears God nor cares about people (v. 2).
The judge is approached by a needy and vulnerable widow. Widows are regularly presented in the Bible as models of faith and faithfulness (e.g., 1 Kings 17:7–16; Mark 12:41–44), for the essence of faith is a recognition of one’s deep need and utter dependence on the Judge of all people. This woman, with apparently no one to represent her, pleads her case for justice before this callous judge.
The judge’s response is as predictable as it is inexcusable: he dismisses her. Yet she returns day after day. Finally, the judge relents so that, literally, “she won’t come and give me a black eye” (v. 5).
The lesson Jesus wants us to draw from this story is that we, too, should keep praying and not lose heart. If an unjust judge will give a widow justice, how much more will the just and loving heavenly Father grant justice to His faithful people?
In a world which is opposed to the gospel and where there is so much injustice, it is easy for believers to lose heart and think that God does not care. However, even when it appears God is not acting, we should keep trusting Him and praying. He will bring justice quickly.
When are you tempted to give up praying? How does this parable encourage you not to lose heart?
Reflect on Jesus’ question at the end of this parable: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (v. 8)