The Persistent Widow (Lk 18:1-8)
18:1* ¶ Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,
2* saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man.
3* “There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’
4* “For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man,
5* yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’”
6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said;
7* now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?
8* “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?”
1. In Luke 18, we find two parables that deal with the subject of prayer…
a. “The Persistent Widow” – Lk 18:1-8
b. “The Pharisee And The Tax Collector” – Lk 18:9-14
2. This is not the first time Jesus used a parable to teaching concerning prayer…
a. Remember “The Friend At Midnight”? – Lk 11:5-13
b. In which Jesus taught the value of persistence in prayer?
3. Evidently the element of persistence in prayer was very important to Jesus…
a. For that is also the theme of the first parable in Luke 18
b. As the first verse reads: “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart”
[Are we persistent in our prayers? Do we appreciate the value of such persistence? Or have we lost heart and don’t pray as we ought? Let’s see what we can glean from the parable of “The Persistent Widow”…]
I. THE PARABLE ITSELF
A. THE CHARACTER OF THE JUDGE – Lk 18:2
1. One who did not fear God nor respect man
2. An unjust judge, for which this parable is sometimes known as “The Unjust Judge”
B. THE DISTRESS OF THE WIDOW – Lk 18:3
1. She has some adversary who has wronged her
2. She seeks the aid of the judge to avenge her
C. THE DIFFICULTY SHE FACED – Lk 18:4a
1. The judge would not help her at first
2. Repeated attempts seem to fall on deaf ears
D. AT LAST THE JUDGE HEEDS HER COMPLAINT – Lk 18:4b-5
1. Not out of any sense for what was right in the sight of God or man
2. But only to avoid being wearied by her constant appeals
[Unlike many of the parables, we are not left on our own to determine the point of this parable. Jesus Himself makes it clear as we consider…]
II. THE PARABLE APPLIED
A. HEAR WHAT THE UNJUST JUDGE SAID…
1. He was moved by the persistence of the widow
2. Even when he was not moved by reverence for God or respect for man
B. Will NOT GOD BRING ABOUT JUSTICE FOR HIS ELECT?
1. This is an argument from the lesser to the greater
a. If an unjust judge will heed a persistence widow…
b. …how much more will a Just God heed His chosen people!
2. Our assurance is even stronger when we note the following contrasts:
|The Widow||God’s People|
|A stranger||His elect – cf. 1 Pe 2:9-10|
|Only one||We are many|
|At a distance||We can come boldly He 4:15f|
|An unjust judge||A righteous Father|
|On her own||God is for us – Ro 8:31-32|
|Pleads her own case||We have an Advocate-Ro 8:34|
|No promise of an answer||Promised it will be given – Lk 18:8a|
|Access limited||Access unlimited (can pray to God anytime)|
|Asking provoked judge||Asking delights God|
3. If persistence paid off for the widow, how much more for God’s elect who pray?
C. WHEN THE TIME COMES, GOD WILL BRING JUDGMENT FOR HIS PEOP0LE
1. The promise is given, but it is delayed until his coming… – Lk 18:7b
a. Often God’s people cry for instant judgment, cf. Rev. 6:9-10
9* ¶ 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;
10* 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?”
11* And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
b. His longsuffering may be to give the persecutors time to repent – 2 Pe 3:9
2 Pet. 3:9
9* ¶ 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. But when His vengeance comes, it will come swiftly!
a. There is a Day coming in which God will take vengeance – cf. 2 Th 1:7-9
2 Thess. 1:7-9
7* 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,
8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
9* These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
b. And when it comes, there will be “sudden destruction” with no way of escape – cf.
1 Thess. 5:1-3
5:1* ¶ Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you.
2* For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
3* 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.
D. BUT WILL THERE BE FAITH ON THE EARTH WHEN HE COMES?
1. The Lord will come, avenging His elect
2. But His delay may prompt some to lose faith (implying lack of prayer is indicative of lack of faith!)
3. The Lord’s concern over this matter is what prompts this parable!
a. That men always ought to pray
b. That men not lose heart
1. Have you begun to lose heart? Has your faith weakened?
a. The state of your “prayer life” reveals the true condition of your faith!
b. If you do not pray “always” (cf. “without ceasing” 1 Th 5:17), your faith is waning!
2. But the Lord has given us reason to believe in the power of prayer in this parable…
a. Especially when we are persecuted for the cause of Christ
b. For we do not serve an unjust judge, but a God who has made us His elect people!
May this parable of “The Persistent Widow”, encourage us never to lose heart and stop praying!