It is one thing to claim Jesus as one’s Savior and to say he is a child of God. It is quite another to act like this is true in one’s life. Often, believers think that publicly embracing Christ is the faith that is needed. While this is true, and very important in the life of the believer, there is another kind of faith the Lord looks for in his elect. It is the kind of trust that waits for God to act on the believer’s behalf. In our own modern day believers often take up their own defense in the courts of the land. Standing on our human rights, we have discovered we are often able to defeat our foes by taking our struggle to this world’s justice system. In doing so, we demonstrate publicly that we embrace Christ as our Savior, and our efforts often help our brethren in their walk with Christ. However, I don’t believe that this is the faith our Lord looks to find in us?
In Luke 18:1 Jesus begins to offer a parable to his disciples, because he wanted them to understand they needed to be consistent in prayer and never give up. The main characters of the parable are a widow and a judge (Luke 18:2-3). He is powerful, but the widow is weak. The judge has authority over the widow’s adversary, but she does not. Jesus claimed the judge neither believed in God nor had compassion toward men (Luke 18:2). In contrast, however, the widow has no power over her circumstances. Nevertheless, the fact that she never gives up and continues to bring her case to the judge serves to change her condition (Luke 18:3, 5). She doesn’t seem to be put off by his lack of interest in her plight.
Although the judge is an unconscionable man, he decides to get rid of the widow by doing as she requests (Luke 18:4-5).The problem, as he sees it, is not that an injustice is done, but rather, if he doesn’t respond favorably to the widow, she will weary him (Luke 18:5). The Greek word for weary (G5299) is defined by Thayer as: “to beat black and blue, to smite so as to cause bruises… (then Thayer points to) that part of the face that is under the eyes” (parenthesis mine). In more modern speech, one might say the widow was beginning to give the judge a “black eye”. He was concerned over his reputation, so he felt it necessary to do exactly as she asked.
In Luke 18:6-7 Jesus draws a contrast between the unjust judge, who listens without any compassion to the request of the powerless widow, and God, who loves his elect and intends to respond favorably to requests they make to him.
In the parable Jesus intends for the widow to point to God’s elect, or those in the Kingdom of God (Luke 18:7). I don’t believe that Jesus intends to say God is willing to respond favorably to all the believers’ requests. In the parable the widow has an adversary and an injustice is being done to her. In the context of prayer to God, it would mean the elect are in trouble, probably persecuted by someone or several people, but the elect have no power to set things right (Luke 18:6-7). They need God to act, if such things would ever become safe.
The parable shows the unjust judge will eventually rule against the widow’s adversary, making him powerless to hurt her (cf. Luke 18:5). The context in which Jesus offers the parable to his disciples seems to cause the widow’s adversary (Luke 18:3) to point to the Pharisees (Luke 17:1, 20; cf. 15:1-2) or the religious people of the time. Jesus said that God would avenge his elect even though he may show patience toward their persecutors (the them in Luke 18:7). However, the time would come that God would act suddenly. Once God acts, it would take only a short time for the adversaries of his elect to retreat (Luke 18:7-8).
It seems that Jesus doubted the believer’s trust that God would respond on their behalf against their adversaries would be found, or that it would be a rarity, when he comes. It is simply too easy to try to defend ourselves when offenses come (cf. Luke 17:1). Yet, Jesus tells us that we shouldn’t resist evil (Matthew 5:39). Rather, by allowing evil to take its course, God would be given opportunity in our lives to give us such a wise testimony that our enemies would be unable to respond to save face (Luke 21:15). Nevertheless, Jesus wondered, if the faith could be found once he returned (Luke 18:8). 2Peter 3:3 claims that in the last days scoffers would arise doubting that Jesus would return and vindicate those suffering under persecution. False doctrine is a powerful influence. Once it is given credence, it is very difficult to put away, so Jesus wondered, if men would continue to cry out for vindication. Would there even be the faith on earth expecting his return (Luke 18:8).