21 October 2007

Luke 18:1-8

"Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart ... 'I tell you, [God] will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?'" (v.1, 8)


Son of Man - what is this phrase about? It is a title that Jesus often uses about himself in the gospels. It is a phrase that could mean 'just an ordinary person', but the title is also used in apocalyptic literature to describe a heavenly leader, such as Daniel 7:13. Here it is probably being used by Jesus to link together his earthly ministry, suffering and death and the future when his work is fulfilled.

This is one of those parables that is found only in Luke's Gospel. It follows some teaching from Jesus about the future, the coming of the Son of Man.

The judge's character is the opposite of what it should be. A judge should be just. A judge who does not fear God is the opposite of the ideal. The widow is a contrast to the judge - she represents those who need protection.

What was happening to those who first read what Luke has written here? They were being persecuted. The experience of these early Christians was that things weren't happening as fast as they expected. Despite all this, they are being asked: will they remain faithful, even when things don't happen as they hoped?

The purpose of the story is not to suggest that God is like the judge, but to point out the contrast. If this judge, who doesn't normally act justly, responds to the widow, will God do any less?

To Ponder

What happens when you get no answer to your prayer? Do you lose heart?

God will grant justice to those who persist. How can you work with God in this?

Bible notes author

Revd Helen White

Helen White is a Methodist minister, currently serving in the Wantage and Abingdon circuit in south Oxfordshire. She has particular responsibility for Blewbury, Didcot, Milton and Upton Methodist churches, as well as sharing in the work of other churches across the circuit.