Sunday

“Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.” (v. 1)

Luke 18:1-8 Sunday 16 October 2016

Psalm: Psalm 121


Background

Luke introduces this parable of Jesus by saying it was aboutprayer. The temptation is then to see the judge as being an imageof God - both answering the pleas of those in need. But to do sorisks a disturbing image of a God who doesn't really care and onlyanswers because he has been worn down.

Although our translation (in the NRSV) states that the judgesuccumbed out of fear of being worn out by the widow's pestering,the literal translation is far closer to fear of physical violence.Therefore, rather than the judge being an image of God, he shouldbe contrasted with God. If this unloving, unjust judge can stillanswer the pleas of a widow, how much more readily will the God whois loving and just respond to our prayers?

However, if that was the sole purpose of the parable, we maythink that Luke was getting a bit repetitive. Earlier in the Gospel(Luke 11:5-8) Luke has already told a parableabout the need for persistence in prayer. So why is anotherincluded?

The answer appears to lie in Jesus' closing challenge: "And yet,when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (v. 8).The early hearers of Luke's Gospel were living through difficulttimes. They had expected Jesus to return quickly and usher in God'snew kingdom, but it wasn't turning out as they had expected.Instead they were being persecuted.

The widow was often an image of one who is helpless anddependent upon others. Maybe this summed up how many in the earlyChurch were feeling. In the midst of this persecution was thetemptation to give up, to stop praying, to lose faith. Perhaps this is the different angle of this parable - persistence inprayer isn't just about getting the things God's people wanted, butalso receiving the strength to continue in the face ofadversity.


To Ponder

  • What are the reasons that might tempt you to give uppraying?
  • What keeps you carrying on?
  • How do you respond to the thought of Jesus returning?


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