13 November 2010

Luke 18:1-8

"And will God not grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night?" (v.7)


If you wish to understand a parable, a story with a hidden meaning, then it can help to must look for the contrasts within it.

The two characters in this parable offer a contrast. First there is the judge, who we are told did not fear God, and therefore did not properly follow Jewish custom. He probably would have been a paid judge appointed by King Herod or by the Romans. Such men were notorious. We are told unless a person had influence and money to bribe the judge they had no hope of ever getting their case settled.

By contrast there is the widow, who is a symbol of all who are poor and defenceless. It was obvious that she, without resources, had no hope of ever getting justice from the judge. But she had one weapon. Persistence. This, in the end, won the day.

The judge is not offered as a picture of what God is like. Jesus is not portraying God as some dour ungracious deity who needs to be badgered into compliance. What Jesus means is that if this callous judge could be moved to act by the widow's persistence, how much more will God answer the people's prayers for vindication!

Prayer is the way we commune with God. It is the life blood of the Christian. It was the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) who wrote, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of". And Jesus himself said of prayer:

"Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you." (Matthew 7:7)

To Ponder

What other contrasts can you find in this parable?

What does prayer mean for you?

Bible notes author

The Revd Richard Teal

Richard Teal is a Methodist minister currently serving as chair of the Cumbria Methodist District. He has a deep interest in ecumenical relationships, Church growth and liturgy.