Luke 18 – The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

The best way to discover what is of utmost importance to God is to examine the attitudes and actions of Jesus.

For example, prayer was an important aspect of his life. Luke records seven separate instances where his prayer life was observed by the people who followed him.

Not only did Jesus show people the importance of prayer by his example, he taught people to pray.

In Luke 18 we read, “Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart” (Luke 18.1).

I don’t think Jesus could have made the importance of prayer any clearer. Just so we don’t overlook his point, let’s emphasize his words.

(1) Jesus said we need to pray ALWAYS.

(2) We are not to lose heart in praying. We are not to GIVE UP and stop praying.

The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge

Jesus emphasized his teaching by telling a parable to challenge his listeners to action.

He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people.

“In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’

“For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'”

“And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says.

“‘And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?

“‘I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?'” (Luke 18.2-8).

Widows, orphans and immigrants are often linked together in the Bible to describe the three most vulnerable categories of people in society.

First century women married in their early teen years. Since the mortality rate was high in the ancient world, there was a fairly large number of young and vulnerable widows.

Women were not allowed to work and the death of their husbands placed them in a very troubling economic situation. Some were sold as slaves to pay debts. Others returned to their family and lived lives of virtual servitude.

Judges were supposed to care for the widows, orphans, and immigrants in their midst. Isaiah points out how this wasn’t always the case.

Ah, you who make iniquitous decrees,
who write oppressive statutes,
to turn aside the needy from justice
and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
that widows may be your spoil,
and that you may make the orphans your prey!
(Isaiah 10.1-2)

Whatever was the woman’s situation, the judge in Jesus’ parable had no interest in helping her. He had no respect for God or care for the vulnerable widow.

Yet, the widow prevailed in court, because she refused to give up.

How Much More

This parable is another example of how Jesus used the “How much more . . .” devise in his parables. God is not like the unjust and uncaring judge in the least.

If such a pitiful excuse for a judge will grant justice, HOW MUCH MORE will a loving heavenly Father bring about justice for people who bring their cares to him in prayer.

Jesus told parables to challenge and confront our attitudes and actions. Now is a good time for self-evaluation. How well are we responding to Jesus’ example and message?

(1) Do we pray always? Do we bring everything that concerns us to God in prayer?

(2) Have we given up on prayer, because our requests seem to have been denied or are still waiting for God to act?

(3) Has this parable challenged us to follow Jesus’ example, and to develop and maintain a consistent prayer life?

End-Time Faith

Jesus ended his message about the parable with these words, “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18.8).

Earlier, the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith. Jesus responded and said, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17.6).

Between these two messages about faith is a lengthy teaching on the “coming of the Son of Man” (Luke 17.20-37). The parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge gives further emphasis to his words in chapter 17.

Jesus’ message about the coming of the Son of Man can be outlined as follows:

Luke 17.20-21 – The kingdom of God is already present through the life and ministry of Jesus.

Luke 17.22-23 – There is a “Not Yet” aspect to the kingdom. Even though the kingdom is present, people are not always able to see its effect.

Luke 17.24-25 – The kingdom of God will suddenly appear, but first the Son of Man must suffer and be rejected.

Luke 17.26-37 – Just as events with Noah and Lot occurred without warning, the coming of the Son of Man will occur. Wise people will be found prepared and ready for his coming. Others will not be ready.

Luke 18.1 – The way to be prepared is to have an active and personal relationship with God that is supported by the kind of prayer that does not lose heart in times of trouble.

Luke 18.2-7 – The Widow shows how to pray during times of trouble. We don’t lose heart, but keep coming to God who will help his children MUCH MORE than the unjust judge.

Luke 18.8 – The question for people who hear the parable is this: When the Son of Man comes will he find them prepared and ready for his coming, because they have prayed and not lost heart?

Today’s Application

I hope the two primary applications of this parable are clear.

(1) It is easy to forget that the kingdom of God is among us. Everything Jesus was to his disciples, the Holy Spirit is to us today. That means that God’s kingdom is active in our world.

(2) We are living “between the times” – between the “already” of the present kingdom and the “not yet” of the coming of the Son of Man.

If we get discouraged, damaged and distracted, we may lose heart and give up on our relationship with him.

Jesus want us to be prepared for everything that comes our way by being connected to him through pray. By no means should we give up on a regular and consistent prayer life.

About This Blog

Klyne Snodgrass has devoted 12 years of study to produce the book, Stories With Intent. His book is recognized as the best book on the parables in print. I am indebted to Dr. Snodrass’ work that helps shape my articles.

If you have a prayer request, please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and so will the prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church.

2 Comments

  1. I’m behind on reading the blogs this week – partly because of things happening in my life now that seem daunting and overwhelming. As always, I have continued to start my days in God’s Word and praying…but I’ve gotten bogged down on exactly what to pray for. I am thankful that God knows my heart, and knows the need without my words, and understands my heart desires and motives. I’ve gotten lost in time trying to focus on how to pray – often just sitting quietly as the day Dawn’s, trying to find words.

    All of this makes this parable and blog (which I’ve started multiple times but only today made it through without interruptions!) more meaningful. I don’t have answers, but as I have come to Him throughout these past days, and as I continue to ask Him for answers, He has not, and will not, turn away from me.

    This parable is encouraging as I wait and pray.

    Liked by 1 person

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