One of the appointed scripture lessons on the month of October was The Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust judge. The main theme of my sermon was, of course, to delve deeper into this parable and relate it to our lives and the life of the church.
The parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge found in Luke 18:1–8 is part of a series of illustrative lessons Jesus Christ used to teach His disciples about prayer. Luke introduces this lesson as a parable meant to show the disciples “that they should always pray and never give up.”
The parable of the widow and the judge is set in an unnamed town. According to the Book of Deuteronomy, the judge presides over the town. This particular unjust judge has no fear of God and no compassion for the people under his jurisdiction. In the Jewish community, a judge was expected to be impartial, to judge righteously, and to recognize that judgment ultimately belongs to God. Thus, the judge in this story is incompetent and unqualified for the job. Justice was not being served.
A needy widow repeatedly comes before the judge to plead her case. According to Jewish law, widows deserve special protection under the justice system, a law also found in the Book of Deuteronomy. But this unjust judge ignores her. Nevertheless, she refuses to give up.
Eventually, the judge says to himself, “I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!” The widow gets the justice she was seeking. Then Jesus explains His point: if an uncaring, unfit, ungodly judge answers with justice in the end, how much more will a loving and holy Father give what is right to His children?
We do not always get immediate results when we pray. Our definition of swift justice is not the same as the Lord’s definition. The parable of the persistent widow demonstrates that effective prayer requires tenacity and faithfulness. A genuine disciple must learn that prayer never gives up and is based on absolute trust and faith in God. We can fully count on the Lord to answer when, where, and how He chooses. God expects us to keep on asking, seeking, knocking, and praying until the answers come. Disciples of Jesus are people of persistent faith.
The parable of the persistent widow and unjust judge is similar to the parable of the persistent neighbor found in Luke 11:5–10, another lesson in Jesus’ teachings on prayer. While both parables teach the importance of persistence in prayer, the story of the widow and the judge adds the message of continued faithfulness in prayer.
Jesus presents a final quiz on the matter at the end of the parable of the persistent widow and unjust judge. He asks, “But when the Son of Man returns, how many will He find on the earth who have faith?” Just as Paul stresses in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, continual devotion to prayer should be a way of life. The Lord wants to know if He will find any faithful prayer warriors left on the earth when He returns. Will we be among God’s people still praying at Christ’s second coming, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done?”
Faithful, never-ceasing, persistent prayer is the permanent calling of every true disciple of Christ who is dedicated to living for the Kingdom of God. Like the persistent widow, we are needy, dependent sinners who trust in our gracious, loving, and merciful God alone to supply what we need.
As your Pastor, I would like to stress that everyone is important to God, and His Son Jesus Christ. We at Emmanuel UCC feel the same way about each other and everyone in the community near and far. You are worthy of the love of God and Jesus, and worthy of the love we would like to share with everyone who walks through our doors.
Feeling unloved? Unworthy of love? Want to learn more about your own spirituality? Want to get involved in mission near and far? Give Emmanuel UCC a chance. Remember, wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here! With Agape love,