The setting for the Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge is in the midst of the discussion of the coming kingdom of God.
If you read Luke 17.20-37, it will be evident that the events mentioned there are not for the faint of heart. As difficulties ensue, some followers of Jesus will be tempted to give up.
Luke recorded this problem as the basis for Jesus’ parable, “Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart” (Luke 18.1).
Jesus taught his followers to “Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26.41).
Instead of despair yielding to the weakness of the flesh, Jesus calls on us to pray.
To make his point, Jesus used a parable to convince his listeners about the value of prayer.
The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge
Two ends of the social spectrum were identified by Jesus in this parable.
— Luke 18.2-5 – 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.’”
Proverbs states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1.7).
“Fool” describes a person who believes that there will be no accounting for their behavior. They don’t value God’s wisdom and instruction, preferring their self-centered impulses.
The judge used his power for self-motivated interests, denied God, and devalued the widow.
The widow was joined by orphans and immigrants as the most vulnerable persons in society. She had no one to go to court for her and no money to bribe the officials to decide in her favor.
Her only resource was to continually make her case before the judge.
Argument from “Lesser” to “Greater”
That the judge is a miserable human is a given in this parable. He is the “lesser” person of value and God is the “greater.”
God is the judge who always enacts justice (Genesis 18.25).
As Jesus interpreted the parable, he encouraged his listeners to continue to pray, quite aware of God’s nature.
— Luke 18.6-8 – 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?”
Let’s not be mistaken. We don’t need to badger God like the woman who needed to confront the unjust judge.
We need to replace despair and the temptation to stop following Jesus with prayer.
As we “stay alert and pray,” we will be able to overcome injustice that afflicts people who follow Jesus.
We will continue to pray “Your kingdom come; your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6.10), even though we don’t see immediate results of the prayer.
Faith at the End
Jesus concluded his interpretation of the parable with these words: “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
People who continue to “stay alert and pray” and who trust that God is bringing about his kingdom in the world demonstrate their faithfulness to God and his agenda.
Jesus told parables to convince his listeners to adopt his attitudes and actions.
Let’s align our lives with Jesus in this regard by praying, not giving up, and staying alert in the times in which we live.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this parable on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel today. Please listen in to hear Rudy’s perspective on this important passage of Scripture.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.