Summary: This odd parable about a widow and a judge shows us why we’re to pray persistently as the end approaches -- so we won’t give up!
Who knows what this picture is? Yep, you guessed it ¡V it is my fire pit! [SHOW PICTURE] And if you recall, a few months back I taught you how to pray (from Luke 11) and I used this fire pit as an example, remember? You¡¦re saying, ¡§Who could forget!¡¨ The point was that we are to pray with shameless boldness and persistence! I knew you¡¦d remember the fire pit?
Today, on day 8 of our 50-Day Adventure, I want to share with you why we¡¦re to pray that way. And we learn the why from a parable similar to the one in Luke 11, but this one is in Luke 18. So take your Bible and turn to Luke 18, and when you get there, put your finger on the first word in 18:1¡K ¡§Then¡¨. Got it? Good!
Now put another finger on the word ¡§when¡¨ in 18:8. Got it? Great! (We¡¦re doing a finger version of Twister, eh?)
These two key words will unlock the parable for us and show us how best to understand our Lord¡¦s teaching in this odd story about a widow and a stern judge. Let me explain¡K
Verse 1 ¡V ¡§Then¡K¡¨
Looks back to chapter 17:20-37 and the coming of the kingdom of God. Things will get worse¡Kit will not be a time of ease or comfort. So what does he tell the disciples to do? PRAY! In light of the coming end, PRAY!
Now skip down to 18:8¡K
Verse 8 ¡V ¡§When¡K¡¨
He closes this parable with the same theme ¡V the end of time and his return/coming. See the phrase ¡§When the Son of Man comes¡K¡¨? His question regarding faith is designed to bring us to a point of evaluation ¡V ¡§Will I be one who is enduring, watching, and persevering? Will my faith in God¡¦s eventual justice keep me faithful and committed?¡¨ Again, there is a focus on the soon-coming end.
And what is between these two key words? A story that has often been misinterpreted and taught incorrectly. Let me say at the outset that this parable is not designed to cast God as the judge who is bothered by the widow. Instead, it is a parable that teaches by contrast ¡V if even human judges eventually right the wrongs and avenge the mistreated and persecuted, how much more will God rescue his own at the right time?! Let me show you what I mean¡K
[TEACH PARABLE and WORD MEANINGS]
Here¡¦s the point he is making in the parable: Persistent prayer is one of the key ways we find the strength to endure, especially as the end draws near.
Let¡¦s say it like this:
¡§Persistent prayer is where I discover God¡¦s perspective and partnership, which gives me the strength to endure, especially as the end draws near.¡¨
There’s no better example or illustration of this than the life of Jesus. What did he do as his life neared the end? PRAYED! In fact, it would be good for you to take some time this week and look through John 17, Christ’s high priestly prayer. Or look at his prayer meeting in the garden where the disciples fell asleep! In the waning days of his life, prayer became one of his top priorities. Why? Becasue that discipline, more han most others, gives us the strength to go on and not give up.
Let me break this statement down for a minute and expand on a couple of principles taught in the parable:
1. God¡¦s perspective helps me see through the trial!
In other words, God¡¦s timetable is the only timetable that really matters. This is called perspective. Seeing through the immediate to the eventual is a mark of maturity and of one following our Lord as a disciple. It¡¦s about his timetable, not my schedule.
What if, while watching the playoffs, you left in the 6th inning and told your friends, ¡§Game over!¡¨ They would laugh at you! Why? Because no matter what the score, the game isn¡¦t over till the 9th inning. So you hang in there and keep on cheering knowing that ¡§it ain¡¦t over till it¡¦s over!¡¨
So it is with spiritual perspective ¡V it ain¡¦t over, Christian! What we see around us looks bleak, and you may feel maligned, persecuted, mistreated ¡K but it ain¡¦t over, brother and sister! Don¡¦t give up!
2. God¡¦s partnership helps me see who to trust!
In other words, God¡¦s truth about his character (trustworthy and dependable) and my condition (I belong to God) helps me realize I am not destined for destruction! God is in control of me and my situation. I am his chosen one, and he will rescue me ¡V avenge me ¡V because he promised! His Word promises a day of reckoning, and we are waiting and watching for that promised day! It¡¦s all about his truth, not my feelings.