The Parable of the Persistent Widow

by LA UBF   06/17/2006     0 reads


The Parable Of The Persistent Widow

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

Luke 18:1-8

Key Verse 18:1

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

In the passage Jesus teaches his disciples the blessed life of prayer.  It has been said that the Lord God provided us with two means of grace: God’s word and prayer. Prayer is therefore one of the important means by which God bestows his blessings upon his children.

First the disciples

Look at verse 1. “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

In the passage as the time for Jesus to return to his Father drew near Jesus chose to teach his disciples “persistent prayer”.  He already taught them the Lord’s prayer. But this time Jesus taught them to pray persistently. 

In verses 2-3 Jesus described the condition of the disciples in this world. The judge in the town shows the kind of leaders the disciples were to operate under. The judge neither feared God nor cared about men. In Jesus’ dictionary, fearing God and caring about men are one and the same. Jesus proved this by taking care of his sheep. But the leaders of this world treat people as numbers. Most of them see people according to their dollar value. The political leaders of Jesus’ day did not care about people. School teachers did not care about people. Parents did not take care of their children. They were busy taking care of themselves. 

In verse 3 a widow kept coming to the judge with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” The word “adversary” further explains the position of the people and the disciples in this world. Without Jesus protecting them they now came to be exposed to the adversary called Satan. They say that there are only two kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. And they represent the two polar extremes, so that as God is love, the devil is everything that love is not. In this way the disciples had to fight the Lord’s battle in a territory which was hostile to them. 

Second, grant me justice against my adversary

“Grant me justice against my adversary.” Here “justice” refers to the condition in which a child of God is supposed to be. It refers to the right to which God’s children are entitled. God’s child must look like God’s child. Genesis 1 says that God made man in His image. To be made in God’s image is the greatest privilege, for no creation but man is made this way. Angels do not understand what it is to be made in God’s image. Satan is one of the angelic beings. Tradition says that Satan was one of the highest ranking angels created to be in charge of art and music.  Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 support this truth especially its exalted status. But since Adam was created, all of a sudden the greatness of the angelic beings came to be eclipsed. Why? Because none of the angelic beings were created to be like God. The truth that God created man reflects God’s will to let man not angelic beings inherit the universe and everything in it.

But think about what we’ve got. Since the fall of the first man Adam, men came to lose everything. Having lost everything, he is left to turn to dust and then fall into eternal condemnation. Is this the way man was created to be? 

Again verses 2-3 describe the dire condition of man’s life in this world which is still ruled by the ruler of the air. And this is getting increasingly so because as Jesus mentioned as the generation deepens the love of many will grow cold. And I do not want to talk about how the [the moral, ethical and spiritual] conditions of men’s lives are degenerating, and how families are broken, and are still being broken more. 

Jesus gave his disciples the mission to reverse this trend. Jesus chose the disciples to recover what had been lost, as Jesus said in John 14:23, “If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” 

Third, a persistent widow

How then should the disciples fulfill the vision to recover the kingdom to God and to men? What the widow did in Jesus’ parable answers the question. Like the persistent widow, we are to come to the Father in prayer. In the parable, the widow was brave and persistent. Although the judge neither feared God nor cared about men, she kept coming to his office. Eventually her bold and persistent plea made the judge paranoid. Because she was so persistent the judge began to have nightmares of her being in his dreams at night. Finally the judge gave up, and granted her justice. 

Just as the widow came to see the judge so also in prayer we can and must come to the Father all the time. And the prayer request is to ask God to grant us justice against our adversary. 

On the American scene, many have lost happy families. Some people technically maintain family relationships. But not all of them have families in the true sense of the word “family”. Some live in mansions. But these mansions are just houses, not “homes”. The same is true in our life at school, towns, and villages. We talk about the so called “Homeland Security.” Each time we travel, we have to go through high level security systems, and as we do so we get treated as if all of us are potential terrorists. But life in the U.S. does not have to be like this.  

Aside from these external conditions, internal conditions are more diabolic. The statistics concerning the average Americans’ mental health for example are only alarming. And it does no good to keep talking about all the despairing news. 

The good news is that we have been provided with the means to reverse the trend, that is, “prayer”. It has been said that where there is Jesus there is the kingdom of heaven. By framing the parable surrounding a widow, a warrior of prayer, Jesus alluded to the truth that prayer can change the kingdom of hell into the kingdom of God. As long as the disciples pray they have the hope to turn the lives of many from that of being cursed to that of God’s absolute blessings. As they are proficient in prayer, they can fill their lives and the lives of many with God’s infinite blessings such as love, comfort, healing, the joy of salvation, peace rolling like a river, and much more. 

Speaking of all the comfort and healings that come from the Father, King David says in Psalm 131:1-3, “My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.” As a king  David went through all kinds of difficulties: difficulties inside difficulties outside. Had it not been for the life of prayer, he could have suffered from a heart attack, and died prematurely. Bu thanks to his prayer, he could receive God’s healing. As a result, he could fill his mouth with words of thanks and praise; and he carried God’s smile despite adverse circumstances. And he lived as a more than conqueror. 

Fourth, will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones?

In verses 6-8a Jesus showed his disciples that God is different from the rulers of this world such as the judge. God cares about men. He cares about people so much that he sent His one and only Son Jesus. In his loving care, for anyone who receives Jesus as the Lord and Savior, he pours the spirit of love into their hearts. Romans 5:5 

"Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.” 

In the passage “his chosen ones” refer to those who put trust in Jesus. The word “chosen” does not mean that God chooses a few special people, and rejects the others. Rather God calls everyone so that everyone would be saved. But God cannot choose a man if he chooses to not receive the Son; God chooses all who choose to receive Jesus, and you choose to receive God’s gift of salvation by choosing to receive and believe in the Son. John 1:12 explains this concept by saying, “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God.”

Fifth, cry out day and night

Practically our relationship with God the Father is no different than a child’s relationship with his or her parents. A pastor has a granddaughter. He knows how the granddaughter relates herself with her parents. As a grandfather he knows when she cries out and why she cries out: she cries out when she is hungry, when she needs a fresh new diaper, and when she is sleepy (meaning she gets stressed out and therefore get her battery recharged. When any of these situations occur, all she needs to do is cry out. Then very quickly her parents come and take care of her. And without exception she is persistent in getting what she needs. Indeed crying out persistently is the way to get justice granted.  

In Romans 8:15 the Apostle Paul says the same thing. “[Y]ou did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." So here is what we are to do: when we go cranky all we need to do is to cry out to the Lord in prayer. 

“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?” Here three things are important: first, cry out, second to him, and third day and night. What is prayer? Tons of books can be written. But Jesus explained the essence of prayer with two words: cry out. In crying out you do not need many words. All you need to do is make a loud noise. Lately a grandfather learned of this first hand. As such the granddaughter’s vocabulary is limited. So when she has a poo-pooh, she cries out. When she is hungry, she cries out. When she is sleepy she cries out. So all she has to do is to cry out. And in crying out she does not explain the reason.  

In prayer it is important for us to cry out to God the Father, not to men. To men Jesus remained gentle and calm. He kept his cool to all who came to him.  This does not mean that he did not have any ill feelings against people. In fact he had tons of difficulties. Although Jesus was altogether lovely, truthful, and righteous all the time, still people came around and gave him a hard time.  A lot of them criticized him some out of ignorance some out of selfish ambition. But Jesus kept his cool. How could he do that? Hebrews 5:7 answers the question: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” 

Think about the expression loud cries and tears.  One day a grandfather was amazed to see the way in which his one year old granddaughter cried out. Each time she cries tears came out so quick. Plus, as she cried out in his living room she kept her left hand to the floor to steady her body. With her right hand she beat the ground, and often times beating her head to the floor, making loud noises like the siren coming out from a fire truck from the Downey Fire Department. 

Hebrew 5:7 says that this is how Jesus prayed. Of course Jesus did not make a loud noise that could be heard by others. Some people misapply Hebrews 5:7 by making lots of noise during a prayer meeting. But we must remember what Jesus said: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” So Jesus cried out to God the Father, not to men. The only time Jesus cried out audibly was while he breathed his last. Mark 15:37 

And we need to cry out to the Lord day and night. On many occasions it is not easy to cry out day and night. Suppose you are a nurse, and you work at a hospital. During your day shift, you run into a situation like your boss falsely accusing you of one thing or another. You feel like screaming at your boss. What then should you do? You can go into a bathroom nearby, close the door behind you, and cry out to the Lord with tears. But make sure that no one but God hears your cry. Also make sure that you do not stay in the bathroom too long. Your time on the job belongs to the hospital and your wages are calculated based on the hours you work. One can apply the same wisdom to different situations: situations that arise at home, at school, at common life, in the church fellowship, and much more. Night time is also a good time to cry out to the Lord in prayer. 

“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?” Combine this question with what verse 1 says: “Then Jesus told this parable to his  disciples to show them that they should pray always and not give up.” Here “always” means “always” – it is the same as “night and day” or “morning and evening”. It also can mean “on all occasions”, that is when you feel sorrowful, frustrated, irritated, angry, when you are mad at someone like you, your boss, your spouse, or anyone. And we need to cry out to the Lord from Monday to Sunday. And all the days of our life here in the body we must cry out to the Lord, because prayer is not just our “love-line” but a “life-line”. [For further insight, please read Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; and Galatians 4:6]

Sixth, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

Lastly let us look at verse 8b. “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" This passage indicates that by the time Jesus comes again people will rely more on what man can do not on what God can do. But there is a limit to what man can do. Unlike man, God is not limited. His power is omnipotent. And there is nothing which he does not know or cannot do. And in all we do, we are called to offer prayers to the Lord God day and night. Then the Lord God will bring about his justice. As God grants his justice, everything will turn out to be beautiful, and the solution God comes up with is free from side effects.

In conclusion we learned that the Lord gave us the privilege to pray to God the Father calling him “Abba Father!” As God’s children we may face all kinds of challenges. But these challenges cannot defeat us. Rather in prayer we can overcome all kinds of enemies – enemies inside and enemies outside. In prayer, we can go deeper into the love and power of God the Father, and gain sufficient comfort and strength, to live as more than conquerors. 

One word: always pray not give up