The Persistent Widow

“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. “There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ “For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)

In Luke chapter 18 we see two Parables that deal with prayer. The Parable that we are looking at today “The Persistent Widow” and the “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector.” We have seen Jesus before use a Parable to teach us concerning prayer. We remember “The Friend at Midnight,” (Luke 11:5-13) which taught the value of persistent prayer. We can observe by the Friend and the Widow that persistence in prayer is important to Jesus. In the first verse of “The Persistent Widow” Jesus makes this point. “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”

As we look at this Parable we first note the character of the Judge. In verse 2 we see that he was a man who did not fear God and that he was unjust towards his fellow man. These characteristics cause some to call this Parable “The Unjust Judge.”

In verse 3 we learn of the widow that she has some adversary that has wronged her in some way. She has now come to the judge to avenge her with legal protection from her adversary.

At first the judge would not help her and would just send her away without hearing her case. But the widow was persistent and came to him repeatedly to plead her case. Even then her words fell upon deaf ears of the judge. The widow continued to call upon the judge and would not relent. Finally in needing relief the judge heard her case. It was not because it was right in the eyes of God but only to avoid being wearied by the widow’s persistence.

We learn that by persistence the judge finally heard the widow’s plea. At first the judge had no intention to entertain the widow’s complaint but was moved by her persistence. The judge had no fear of God or regard for man but for the sake of peace he listened and satisfied the widow.

In this Parable we see a progression from the lesser to the greater. If an unjust judge can be moved by the persistence of a widow how much more will a just God heed the call of His chosen people. We can see and have this assurance that if a poor widow can move an unjust judge then how much more can God’s people through persistence in prayer move Him to act on their behalf?

God will answer the prayers of His people but He may bear long in that answer. God is above us and He knows that end from the beginning and will answer when the time is right. Until He does we must have faith that He has answered our concerns. “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10)

Our loving God is longsuffering which we should be thankful for. What seems as a long delay to us may be a blessing to our persecutors that they are given time to repent just as we had been given. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

When the fullness of time has come God will seek His vengeance and it will come quickly. All happens according to God’s perfect plan and purpose. There is a day appointed for when God will take His vengeance against unrighteous man. “And to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)

When that day comes it will be sudden destruction and for those who must endure there will be no way of escape. “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3)

At the conclusion of this Parable Jesus asks a question. “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” None should doubt that the Lord will come and avenge His people. The Christians have been waiting for that day sense the Day of Pentecost, which has been near two thousand years. As we look out across the world we find fewer and fewer people of faith. This delay in time may have caused many to lose faith. This could mean a lack of prayer or an inactive faith.

Two important points that we as Christian should take from this Parable is that we should be people who pray continuously. “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) This is not giving God lip service but to pray the desires of our heart persistently until by faith we see the unseen become reality in our lives. The other is that we should not lose heart. This is where the heart of man should find its rest. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

Questions that we need to ask ourselves is this. Have we begun to lose heart? Has our faith weakened? The state of our prayer life reveals the condition of our faith. If we are not praying without ceasing, then our faith is weakened.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, May 19, 2017

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