Sunday 16 October 2022

Bible Book:

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

Luke 18:1-8 Sunday 16 October 2022

Psalm 121


On many occasions in the gospel accounts, Jesus' parables seem to confuse his audience. However as Luke’s narrative gets closer to Jesus' final days in Jerusalem, the time for Jesus' teaching is drawing to an end. There is now a greater urgency to make the most of every opportunity and to try to avoid confusion by getting straight to the point. This parable therefore begins with a clear statement: it concerns "the need to pray always and not to lose heart.” (v. 1)

This may be very relevant for the first people to hear or read this gospel, which was probably written a few years after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by Roman forces in 70 AD. They would have been a community of fearful, anxious people wondering, after decades had passed since the earthly ministry of Jesus, when and how the Son of Man would return and when the kingdom of God would be realised. This was also something Luke was very aware of. (Luke 17:20-37)

The parable not only exhorts people to keep faith with what they have heard and been promised, but also provides extreme contrasts between a judge who “neither feared God nor had respect for people” and a loving God who cares deeply for his people. The former is subjected to repeated lobbying from a widow and appears to get worn down by her persistence, giving in to what she wants for no better reason that to achieve a quiet life. While it might have been the right outcome for the woman, it is hardly a good example of dispensing justice. By contrast God will “quickly grant justice to them” (v. 8) and yet those listening are still encouraged to “cry to him day and night” (v. 7). We see even with God, justice is not automatically given, it needs to be sought after and, at times, it takes hard work and persistence to achieve.

There is also a power dynamic in the parable that seeks to challenge and change the experience of many who will be listening. As in other stories told by Jesus, it is the poor, weak and marginalised who win favour, rather than those who are rich, powerful and respected. Jesus is again turning cultural norms on their head, and so no wonder Luke’s readers are keen to see the coming of the kingdom of God.

To Ponder:

  • Are there things you regularly pray for and how do you feel about the outcome?
  • Reflect on the news bulletins. What injustices reported today can you seek to address through prayer? Are there issues about which you could contact your local councillor, MP or other political representative?
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