Luke 18:1-14, And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? 9And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
The subject of the kingdom of God was introduced in chapter 17 by the question of the Pharisees as to when the kingdom would come.
In response to this question Jesus implied that his second coming would not be a quick return but one where much time elapsed between His comings.
There would be time enough for false Christs to show themselves and there would be time enough for Christ’s disciples to build up a great longing for His return.
We know that the disciples did not catch the truth of a delayed kingdom for they asked of Christ in the book of Acts: Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
And the time to which they were referring was the time in which they lived.
But the coming of the kingdom was not going to be immediate and therefore we find in chapter 18 instructions of Christ to his disciples concerning persistence and perseverance in prayer.
If the kingdom were coming quickly there would be little need to teach His disciples persistence and perseverance in prayer.
So the subject of the kingdom of God continues in Chapter 18 as Christ brings to the minds of the disciples the need for persistent and persevering prayer by humble men and women while they await the return of Christ.
This passage that we have just read ends with the question of our Lord: Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
This of courses implies that the delay will be too long for many and many will fall by the wayside and will not await faithfully the coming of the Lord.
Peter eventually knew this by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit when he wrote in:
2 Peter 3:3, Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming?
These kind of words if listened to will promote fainting, not praying.
So many in the last days will faint instead of praying.
The question as to finding faith on the earth when he comes also implies that there were to be some difficult days for the disciples prior to the coming of the kingdom.
The reason the disciples might faint or lose heart is that persecution and opposition and injustice will be fierce and intense.
Many may find their faith wavering as to whether justice will ever be established on this earth.
If I were not a Christian this is what I would believe based upon my life experiences.
I have been alive through some of the most unjust times in history and today we continue to live in unjust times.
More than any other people in history we have been bombarded and continue to be bombarded with news of injustices that take place in every part of this planet.
From this worldly perspective how can anyone think that there can be peace and justice in this world?
Peace and justice are not compatible with the sinful heart of man.
How many times have we heard the phrase “Peace in our time” uttered only to see that that kind of hope for peace falls by the wayside?
The hatreds of men are so deep that they can never be dug up and disposed of.
There is only one hope for justice and peace in this world and that hope is the Lord Jesus Christ.
And as we learned last week it will take the deaths of half of this world’s population to bring in God’s kingdom where justice will finally reign.
But in spite of the conditions in which the disciples find themselves as they await the kingdom Jesus instructs his disciples that there is no room for fainting in his program for his program includes prayer to the Father who will avenge his own elect.
Prayer is to sustain us to that day of Christ.
The Christian is never left unattended, and is never left to his own devices.
We are never alone when we know there is a listening God.
Persistent and persevering prayer is the antidote to fainting or losing heart in this unjust and un-peaceful world.
This is what Christ is teaching in these two parables for prayer is the theme of both.
In verses 1-8 we have the prayer or petition of the persistent widow which she continually put before the unjust judge.
In verses 9-14, we are given the prayer of the self-righteous Pharisee contrasted with the contrite prayer of the humble tax-collector.
As is the case in many of Christ’s teachings we have two lessons in contrast.
The first lesson contrasts God, who is the only judge who will bring justice to the earth, with the unrighteous judge who only grants the widow’s petition under pressure in order to gain his own comfort.
In the second parable Jesus taught that humility is the prerequisite for all prayer.
So He contrasts the self-righteous Pharisee with the repentant contrition of the tax-collector.
In this parable we are given to see that prayer reveals the man.
The Pharisee’s prayer reveals a self righteous hypocrite and the prayer of the tax collector reveals a humble contrite spirit.
So we can see that we can learn much about ourselves from our prayer life.
Most parables do not begin with the reason for the parable but this is not the case here for Luke begins the parable by telling us what its meaning will be.
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.
Another way of saying this is that men have the power of prayer at their disposal but if they neglect that power they will soon lose heart, give up and turn coward.
The hero of this parable is the widow who would not give up.
In spite of this nasty judge who couldn’t care less for her or for her cause she did not turn coward, she did not lose heart but kept on keeping on and because of her persistence she won the day.
In bringing this lady to our attention the Lord called his people to unceasing prayer.
He had already implied that the kingdom’s coming was not going to be immediate so they were to get ready for persistent unceasing prayer.
They were to get ready for difficult days prior to the coming of the kingdom.
They were to witness events on the earth which could easily cause them to lose heart and give up.
But our Lord’s last words in this parable are given to the disciples so that they will not lose heart for he says “when the Son of Man comes”.
There is no ifs ands or buts about it.
Jesus is saying something like this: “You can count on the fact that I will return and that I will bring about justice on the earth when I come.
The issue for you to concern yourselves about isn’t whether I will fulfill My promises, but in spite of the injustice you find on the earth, I desire that you will be found faithful when I return.”
The Lord’s faithfulness is guaranteed and he wants us to take strength from that so that we too will be faithful when he comes.
So he forewarns us by telling us of this unjust judge which in essence describes the conditions that will be on earth until he comes.
There will be no real, complete, and ultimate justice on the earth until He returns and establishes it in His kingdom.
The Sermon on the Mount speaks of present pain, mourning, persecution, and sorrow, but of ultimate blessing only when He comes with His kingdom.
Jesus draws our attention to the judge in this parable.
He says, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
This judge was a very nasty character but according to the Lord we are to learn from him even though he was a man who had no reverence toward God nor did he respect or care for men.
Neither fear of God nor love of man could move him.
Here we are given a judge who had a perfect opportunity to exercise justice in the case of this passionate woman but he couldn’t care less about her need and he consistently delayed answering her frequent petitions.
There is a saying that justice delayed is justice denied and this judge intended to deny justice to this widow.
But she would not have it so.
She was the squeaky wheel who intended to get the grease!
She persisted, and pressed, and persevered. She pled for justice.
But what this judge did should not be done!
Justice should come easily.
This is the way the kingdom of God will be run.
Justice will not have to be begged for in the kingdom of God.
We see by this parable what the condition of justice is in this world.
Justice is not loved as it is only given if there is some benefit for giving it.
But justice in the kingdom is given for justice’ sake as it is always right to do right regardless of the cost or the lack of benefit.
The question we should focus on is why do sinful men ever bring about justice?
The answer is given to us in this parable and it is the same as that given by the unjust judge.
Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
So we see that men bring about justice when it is in their self interest to do so.
It is not righteousness which moves men to act in favor of justice, but self-interest.
We look to government officials to promote justice, but if the justice they are required to administer is not in their own self-interest, it usually does not come quickly or it doesn’t come at all.
Look at the criminal cases that get the district attorney’s rapid attention.
As he selects his cases is he interested in justice or his own ambition?
We are a nation of law but are we a nation of justice?
Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray once informed a man who had appeared before him in a lower court and had escaped conviction on a technicality, “I know that you are guilty and you know it, and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge, and that there you will be dealt with according to justice and not according to law.”
So we see in this parable that if unjust men will not bring about justice because it promises them no benefit, then persistence may force them to act in self-interest to reduce the pain of our persistence.
So men promote justice out of self interest but God promotes justice because God is righteous and just.
God does not need to be forced to bring about justice for His saints.
God has promised to bring about justice, and He will.
God loves justice, God loves his children and he moves with compassion for those who are oppressed and this causes him to always act to bring about justice.
God’s love of justice, God’s love for His own and His compassion for the poor and the oppressed move Him to always act to bring about justice.
This character of God is our assurance that our prayers will be answered when it comes to the matter of justice.
Because of this we never have an excuse to faint or to lose heart for we have a God who never sleeps and who sees and records every act of injustice to insure that justice will prevail.
This unjust judge moved because of the perseverance of this widow.
Because of her persistence it was in the best interest of the judge to give the woman what she wanted, so he granted her request, not out of a positive motivation but out of a selfish, cost benefit analysis.
The unrighteous judge granted the widow justice, not because it was the right thing to do, not because the Old Testament law required it, and not because a helpless widow requested it, but simply because it served his interest best to do so.
The focus of this parable is not on the widow but on the unrighteous judge, because his character is then used to teach us by contrasting his character with God’s character.
The woman persisted in her petition because that judge was a wicked man who would act only out of self-interest, and she literally wore him down.
The cost of listening to her became too high for the judge so justice was exercised to save his ear.
She got what she wanted from him because he was evil and would put his comfort and best interests above anything else.
Contrast this persistence with that of the Christian.
The Christian is taught to persist in prayer because of the character of God, which is the opposite of that of the judge.
God is righteous; the judge was unrighteous.
God has chosen His disciples and He cares about His disciples because He has chosen them.
But the unrighteous judge has no feelings and no relationship to the widow.
He has no compassion toward her, while God has great compassion on His own children.
The unrighteous judge delayed because he didn’t care about God nor did he respect man.
But the Lord Jesus Christ delays out of compassion for guilty unjust men, giving them time to repent and to be saved.
The unrighteous judge only cared about reducing his “pain,” while the righteous Judge came to suffer the greatest pain of all, the just wrath of God, in order to save fallen man.
The unjust judge brought about justice slowly and reluctantly, but the Just Judge of all the earth will speedily bring about justice when He returns to the earth.
Since we can count on that we must not faint!