Summary: This parable is about persistence in praying but not about praying the same prayer persistently to get what we want. It is about sticking with prayer and with God no matter what!
The Parables of Jesus
The Unjust Judge
August 9, 2009
Here we have another parable with a theme of prayer. Like the parable of the BFF @ midnight, this parable is NOT praying the persistently the same prayer badgering God to get what we desire. In fact, NO WHERE in scripture is this kind of attitude and prayer endorsed. Those are false “conclusions” reading a human agenda into the text. Turn with me to Luke 18.
Boy had a pet parrot that he truly loved. One day, he went in to see the parrot and it had keeled over apparently dead as a doornail. The boy’s father seeing the devastated look on his face had a sudden inspiration for a plan to help his son through this.
“Son,” he said, “Here’s what we are gonna do. Dolly was a really special bird so we are going to celebrate how special she was. Everyday this week we are going to have cake and ice cream to celebrate Dolly. You can invite your all friends and we will just have a grand celebration.”
His son as you can imagine suddenly cheered up and a smile returned to his face as he thought about all the cake and ice cream. Just then the parrot let out a strange squawk and sat up straight back on his perch.
“That’s weird,” his dad replied. Then he mumbled out loud, “What am I going to do now?”
To which his son yelled, “Kill it!”
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ’Grant me justice against my adversary.’
"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ’Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ "
And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
Let’s begin by pointing out some cultural characteristics.
Widows were recognized by their distinctive attire indicating their status. Since women married in their early teens, widows were numerous but not necessarily old. Since widows were often treated almost as property, they were left with no means of support unless they had a male, adult child. If her husband left an estate, she did not inherit, although provision for her would be made. However, even in these cases, she would be at the mercy of the person who took care of the estate often inviting abuse. If she remained in her husband’s family, she had an inferior, almost servile, position. If she returned to her family, the money exchanged at the wedding had to be given back. Widows were often sold as slaves for debts.
Information concerning how the judicial system functioned in the 1st century Palestine is sketchy. Conclusions based on this information needs to limited. And really because this is a parable, it doesn’t matter. We only need to know that many widows would be in desperate situations. More than likely, the widow here was petitioning for the return to property and there was a strong possibility of an unsympathetic and/or corrupt judge.