Summary: A Demanding Widow and a Deluded Pharisee (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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:
(1). SHE WAS A FEMALE;
• 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!
(2). SHE WAS A WIDOW.
• 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.
(3). SHE WAS POOR.
• 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”
(4). SHE FACED A HARD-HEARTED JUDGE.
• 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;