Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Jesus gathers his disciples for a teaching on prayer....to pray and not grow faint. He uses a persistent widow, a shadey character, a dishonest judge to make a point about the goodness of God. The message is not about the "way to have peace with God" bu

In Jesus Holy Name October 21, 2007

Text: Luke 18:1-8 Redeemer

“A Desperate Widow: A Parable About A Responsive God”

During the past Sundays our Sunday morning Gospel lessons have been moving us through the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 14 Jesus told his disciples about the “cost of being a disciple.” In chapters 15-16 Jesus taught about God’s love and desire to find those who are spiritually lost and so we had the story of the “Lost Sheep”, the “Lost Coin”, and “the Lost Sons”. In Chapter 16 Jesus confronted the Pharisees again regarding the ultimate destiny….heaven or hell…by telling the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. In Chapter 17 the focus of Jesus’ teaching now centers on his disciples.

(This message is not about the way to have peace with God, or the way to heaven. I you do not know about your eternal destiny we will be glad to talk with you. This message is about the believer’s “walk with God.

Jesus has gathered his disciples. It is a moment of teaching on the topic of prayer. Bill Hybels in his book “Too Busy Not To Pray” writes: Prayer less people cut themselves off from God’s prevailing power. The frequent result is the familiar feeling of being overwhelmed, over-run, beaten down, pushed around, defeated. Surprising numbers of people are willing to settle for lives like that. When you keep your hands in your pockets – it shows that you do not trust the Creator God to be a loving Father.

Jesus tells his disciples a parable, a story about a persistent widow to help them understand how God feels about prayer. He uses a shady character, a dishonest judge, to make a point about the goodness of God.

“The main character in the parable is a widow. Of course it’s never easy being a widow. In the U.S., being a widow is not usually as desperate as it was in the Middle East 2000 years ago. In our culture widows can be wealthy, hold positions of influence, attend school, own property, and be allowed to work.

When Jesus told this story the situation was quite different for many. Generally, a widow had little education, no job outside the home, certainly no power and no status. If she did not have a son, or brother-in-law who could care for her she might become a beggar, a 1st century street person.

This woman has been wronged by someone and her case was in court. The judge was dishonest. Jesus described him with these words: “He did not fear God, and he did not respect other human beings.” The widow was poor. She could not bribe the judge. Without fear of God, the judge did not worry about some future day of reckoning. Without respect for others, he did not care how his decisions affected people who looked to him for justice in his courtroom.

This judge is the widows only hope. What could she do? Rejected, Hurt, she examined her situation, knowing that no higher court would hear her case. She knew this judge was her only hope. She decided: “I will pester him. Every time the judge turns around, I’ll be there. I’ll follow him home. I’ll follow him to work. So that’s what she did. Finally, the judge said, “I can’t take it any more. She is wearing me out.

Some people think that this parable means that we should bang on the doors of heaven, spend hours on our knees. Sooner or later we’ll wear God down. NO!

Jesus is contrasting this dishonest judge with a loving father. Jesus said, “You see how the unjust judge reacted, now look at God’s approach. Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him? Will he keep putting them off? No. He will see that they get justice.

First, we are not like the widow, abandoned. Paul writes: “We are adopted sons and daughters of God, chosen before the creation of the world.” (Ephesians 1) We have a relationship with God by our baptism. He knows our name. We are his. We do not have to “bang on heaven’s door.” Hebrews 4:16 “Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence ……”

Second. Our heavenly Father is not like the judge in Jesus’ story. “The judge was crooked, unrighteous, unfair, disrespectful, uncaring and preoccupied with personal matters.”

The Bible reminds us that we serve a God who looks for opportunities to pour out his blessings on us. The most repeated prayer in the Christian church begins…. “Abba”, Dad our Father. In Romans 8:16 Paul wrote “……we are God’s children…”

Most Fathers love to be generous with their children. Jesus once said, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake? If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11.

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