21 October 2007Luke 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
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?
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?