Posts Tagged "Luke 18:1-8"

A God of Love

October 20, 2019
By Rev. David French

As is always the case, today’s Gospel lesson is part of a larger context. Beginning with verse 20 of chapter 17, Jesus has been talking about the end of time. He’s also been talking about the persecution that the Church will endure before the end of time comes. As Jesus said to His disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it” (Luke 17:22). That is, Jesus encouraged the disciples not to lose heart in the middle of persecution because when the time is right, the Son of Man will come to judge the living and the dead. That’s where today’s Gospel lesson begins. And so, it’s in light of the fact that the Church will be persecuted that Jesus told them a parable teaching they should “always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

The judge in the parable clearly was not worthy of his position because he “... neither feared God nor respected man” (Luke 18:2). This judge was interested in his comfort alone and didn’t really care about the cases that came before him. He wasn’t interested in the law of God, and he wasn’t interested in the opinion of people. He was, to say the least, not the kind of judge you would want to bring your case before.

Unfortunately, the widow in our parable had no choice. Widows in biblical times were among the weakest, most vulnerable members of society. And while Jesus doesn’t give the details of the woman’s case, we do know that she went to someone who should have helped her in her search for justice.

The judge, however, saw no gain for himself by helping the woman, so he decides to ignore her. He hoped she would just give up and go away, but she didn’t. Every morning he entered his court, and there she was, bringing her petition. 

Eventually, he got tired of seeing her and said to himself, “Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming” (Luke 18:4–5). Ultimately, the widow wore the judge down. He didn’t hear her case because it was the right thing to do, but because he was sick and tired of seeing her in his court day after day. He simply wanted to get rid of her.

This parable is what’s known as a parable of contrasts. Jesus contrasted this unrighteous judge with God who is righteous and holy. He said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily” (Luke 18:6–8). In other words, Jesus taught His disciples that if an unrighteous judge will give justice just to get a nagging widow off his back, how much more will the God of love bring justice to His people.

The contrast between God and the unrighteous judge is not the only contrast in this parable. There’s also the contrast between us and the widow. Although Jesus doesn’t tell us the details of the widow’s case, we do know that it was a good case. Our case before God, however? Not so much. The truth is, we don’t have the right to even bring a case before God. 

But God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world in order to redeem the world. Jesus took the punishment for the guilty verdict we deserved. He opened God’s court to all by paying all our debts when He died on the cross.

And while we still have no rights in His court, God gives us that right for the sake of His only begotten Son, our savior, Jesus Christ. You were given that right on the day of your baptism when the Holy Spirit worked faith in your heart.

In this parable, Jesus teaches us to pray continually and never lose heart. Why? It’s because His promise is that He will bring justice to His chosen ones and will do so speedily. The really good part is, the justice He gives is not what we deserve. He doesn’t give the justice dictated by the law, but the justice dictated by Him being a God of justice and love. 

Jesus shows us that God’s justice simply can’t be separated from God’s love; that is, His love as revealed in His Suffering Servant, a love that has as its goal to make the sinner pure and the ungodly just.

Remember, God sent His Son because He so love the world, that is, He so loved people, all people, people like the widow, people like the unjust judge, people like you and me who hear Him today. But God’s love is not always so easy to see, even for a believer, so Jesus teaches us to pray continually and never lose heart.

My friends, as St. John assures all who, by the working of the Holy Spirit, believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, “Now we are children of God and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears we shall be like him ….”

The truth of those words is what Jesus purchased for all humanity with His life and death. And with His resurrection, the truth of those words is what is received by all who believe. And that means God’s kingdom is already among us. To be sure, much of it in ways we don’t see, but still believe, knowing as God revealed through the apostle Paul, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). And so, we continue to pray. We pray especially for that time when we shall see Jesus face-to-face and this world of sin is replaced with a new heaven and a new earth.

After Jesus finished telling the parable, He asked, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). Will he find faith that is persistent and loyal? The answer implied in the question is yes, He will! He will find people like those mentioned throughout the Bible who prayed without ceasing. 

He will find faith in people like the tax collector who humbled himself and beat his chest begging God for mercy. He will find faith in the little children who look to Christ and trust him completely. He will find faith in people like the blind beggar who cried out to Christ for healing and mercy. He will find faith in people like you and me who come before Him again on this day. For we, too, are a people who stand before God pleading for mercy and leaning on Christ for everlasting hope.

So, can we pray and not lose heart? Yes! Can we pray and not give up? Absolutely! For we know to whom we belong. Jesus the Christ of God purchased you from sin, death, and the power of the devil with His own holy blood. You belong to Him. You are a part of His body. He has won eternal life for you which comes with the right to pour out your heart to God your Heavenly Father in prayer. 

The apostle Peter wrote, “[Cast] all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). He cares for you and, unlike the unjust judge in today’s parable, our God truly is a God of love who invites you to come to Him in prayer because, by grace through the faith He has worked in you, you are truly His beloved and precious child.

In His name, Amen.

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