Summary: A Demanding Widow and a Deluded Pharisee (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: Luke chapter 18 verses 1-14


• When a night club opened on the main street of a small American town;

• The local Church held an all-night prayer meeting.

• One member asked God to burn it down.

• Within a few moments, lightning struck the club and it was burnt to the ground.

• The owner sued the church,

• While the Church denied all responsibility.

• In court the judge said, “It seems that wherever the guilt may lie;

• The night club owner believes in the power of prayer, while the church does not!”

In our passage tonight we have two stories about people who prayed:

• Verses 1-8: The story of a demanding widow.

• Verses 9-14: The story of a deluded Pharisee.

(A). The story of a demanding widow.

• In New Testament days;

• Widows usually had a difficult time making ends meet.

• There was of course no pension schemes and no state benefits;

• A widow without children had to literally survive day-by-day – it was a hard existence!

Reading between the lines of the parable - This widow may well have had an adversary:

• Someone who was trying to take advantage of her.

• It’s likely someone was trying to cheat her out of money or land that her husband left her.

• This was prevalent in Bible times, because women had few legal rights.

Note: As you read the parable remember this is set in an Eastern context;

• Ill: For example the Courtroom was not a fine building;

• But a tent that was moved from place to place as the judge covered his circuit.

• It was the judge who set the agenda;

• He decided what cases he would consider.

• The judge would sit in his tent surrounded by his assistants.

• Anybody could watch the proceedings from the outside,

• But only those who were approved and accepted could have their cases tried.

• It was not uncommon for people to bribe one of the judges assistants;

• So that he would call the judges attention to a particular case.

• Ill: We have seen similar cases among politicians;

• Who have taken cash or bribes to raise particular questions in Parliament.

(1). The woman (vs 3-5)

• For this widow to get her case heard by the judge;

• She would have to overcome 4 obstacles:


• That may sound obvious but it is important to emphasize;

• Because it meant in this culture she had little standing before the Law.

• In fact in New Testament times in Palestine;

• Women did not go to court – they were not even accepted as witnesses!


• Once again this is an important part of the scenario;

• It meant that she had no husband to stand with her in court.

• The Law should have protected her (Moses gave conditions regarding widows);

• But her culture & customs overlooked those laws and made her situation very difficult.


• Question: How do we know she was poor;

• Answer: Is in the fact that she could not pay a bribe to the judges assistants;

• For them to bring her case to the attention of the judge.

• Quote: “She was between a rock and a hard place”


• Notice how Jesus described the judge in verse 2:

• We are told up front that this judge does not care about God or about men.

• He is moved neither by fear of God nor by compassion for his fellowman.

• In other words he is cold, hard-hearted - the sort of judge you want to avoid!

(2). The lesson:

• There is one primary point that Jesus wants his followers to learn;

• Jesus tells this story to make an important point concerning prayer.

• Verse 1 Dr Luke tells us upfront the exact reason for the parable:

• “He is encouraging his disciples to pray and not give up!”

• ill: That is illustrated in verse 3: “A widow that kept coming to him…”

• ill: Again verse 5 says; “Because this widow keeps bothering me”.

• Note: In fact the word translated “bothering” literally means to “poke in the eye.”

• In other words; ‘He was upset because this widow was constantly in his face.’

• The widow kept coming every day;

• And the more the judge refused to listen to her, the more she came!

• She peppered his ears with persistent petitions.

• Because the widow had become an unbearable nuisance, the judge finally listened to her.

• Notice that it is this constant begging and nagging;

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