The Parable of the Persistent Widow


Proverbs 24:16 says, “for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity. As you reflect upon your life, how many times have you fallen down? Did you pick yourself up each time and say that you’ll try again? Regardless the number of experiences of failure or rejection, do you keep on going? A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.
Elbert Hubbard. In Luke 18, Jesus focuses on the general principle concerning the importance of continued prayer in all matters, see 11:5–8.

In 11:8, friendship is not enough to make the friend get up, but persistence is. Jesus uses comparison/contrast with the judge and Himself, the Judge. “Listen to what the unjust judge says. ‘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!’Jesus says if even an “unrighteous” judge (v. 6) will do what is right, how much more God? 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. In verses 7-8, Jesus is explaining the comparison/contrast between Himself, the just judge, and the unjust judge.

We can’t miss Jesus’ emphasis on His character versus that of the unjust judge. The word for unjust is adikia meaning 1) injustice, of a judge, 2) unrighteousness of heart and life, or 3) a deed violating law and justice, act of unrighteousness. The unjust judge did not value injustice because he had an unrighteousness of heart and life as he contemplated not addressing the law and giving justice to the widow. Paul raises the rhetorical question about God’s justice in Romans 9:14. He says, “What then shall we say? Is God unjust?” Paul also answers that question by responding “Not at all!” God, through the writer of Hebrews 6:10, goes on to say “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

The matter is settled. Jesus 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.” The fact that an unjust judge will act because he does not want to get beat down by a persistent widow’s continual request which is first nerve racking, but it has also been proposed that the unjust judge did not want to be found out. By not answering the same widow, the people may have assumed that he was truly and indeed unjust. On the other hand, Jesus says it is exactly his justice for his chosen ones that will cause him to get justice, and quickly. Before you go and start saying, “well, God did not answer me quickly when…” Quickly is not determined by us. If we believe in the fact of God being a just judge, we must reserve our judgment of any action that God does. How can we, who are unjust and unrighteous, judge God is just, righteous and perfect.

Beyond focusing on the Second Coming of Christ, Jesus does not want us to fall into the trap of not valuing and validating the character of God in our thoughts and actions. It is our belief about who God is that will drive our actions about what we believe God will do on our behalf. This is the essences of the point Jesus raises in comparing and contrasting Himself, the just judge, and the unjust judge. John 5:26-30 says “26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life  in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice. 29 and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” In the verses preceding (17:22–37) Luke 18 and the reference to the Second Coming of Christ in v. 8, Jesus conveys that persistence in prayer for the coming of Christ and His final triumph over evil, even when that coming is seemingly delayed, is particularly in view (1 Cor. 16:22;Rev. 22:20).

Concerning this passage, what should we pray for? ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ Clearly, she had an earthly adversary, but the implication is for our spiritual adversary, satan. Christ will grant us justice over our sin and satan’s accusatory comments against us. Be persistent in prayer saints against your adversaries – sin and satan. For now you know one of the greatest principles of [godly] success; if you persist long enough you will win.
— Og Mandino
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