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Bible Gem 1108 - The Fit of the Parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-8)

July 7, 2019

One day Jesus told His disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.

There was a judge in a certain city," He said, "who neither feared God nor cared about people.

A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, 'Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.'

The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, 'I don't fear God or care about people,

but this woman is driving me crazy. I'm going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!'"

Then the Lord said, "Learn a lesson from this unjust judge.

Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don't you think God will surely give justice to His chosen people who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off?

I tell you, He will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will He find on the earth who have faith?" (Luke 18:1-8)



Remember we are dealing with Luke's Gospel; the gospel he told us is an ordered account. We have already seen the ways in which it is ordered in what we have looked at to this point. Here we have a parable about prayer immediately following a portion focused on the Second Coming of Christ in which the questions of When and Where are addressed in an elliptical kind of way. Is this a coincidence? Or is there something in the connection between the statements on the Second Coming and the exhortation to persevere in prayer. Take note that the call to concerted prayer in the context of the Second Coming is repeated in Luke 21:36. It seems these thoughts are not just linked once. 


This parable has been called the Parable of the Unjust Judge. It has also been called the Parable of the Importunate Widow. Calling it the latter draws a parallel between this parable and the pericope of Luke 11:5-8. I would suggest you read back over the Gems 966 - 970 that I wrote on Luke 11:5–8 to see what you think about the similarities or differences between this and today's passage and to weigh up what I said about Luke 11.  


Notice how the parable starts and how it ends. Luke tells us straight out the purpose of the parable. It is to tell the disciples (and us) to pray and never give up when there is a delay in God's response. This is another of those times when the reader or the hearer is given some extra info to help them understand the purpose of the parable. We are being brought into the picture behind the scenes. I will give you some more behind the scenes insight before we pull this apart and see what it holds for us.  Why if this parable is about prayer does it end "When the Son of Man returns will He find faith on the earth? 


Point number one: this judge is not a God-fearer.

Point number two: this judge doesn’t care about people and what they think about him. 


This automatically removes the two basic elements of social control in the middle eastern social context. Either you appeal to the fact that the person you are dealing with is one who fears God and wants to do what is right in His eyes. Or if that doesn’t work then normally one appeals to the person's sense of shame as in the case of the Parable of the Friend at Midnight in Luke 11. That is not going to work in this case either because this judge has no fear or sense of shame before people. It ain't going to succeed. 


Also what is interesting with this case is that this woman is going to court to plead her case for herself. That didn’t ever happen. A woman was vulnerable at the best of times in this culture but even more so if she was a widow. It meant she had lost her husband, the one who pled for her in any social situation where she needed someone to speak on her behalf. Like an appeal to the governing body of the land in a court case.  


At the heart of this parable are three truisms.


Truth # One: She has no one to plead for her.

Truth # Two: Her cause is a just one. She is only asking for justice. 

Truth # Three: A judge dispenses justice. That is why the court system exists. 


Having drawn your attention to these five matters: two points and three truisms, I will leave you to work out the pieces of how they fit together. I will be back tomorrow morning. 




Troubles are a lot like people, they grow bigger if you nurse them. 


The days you are most uncomfortable are the days you learn the most about yourself. 


One of the great tests of your faith is how positive you remain when everything has gone wrong or everyone is against you. Rick Warren



Character is built by repeatedly choosing "best" over "easiest." Rick Godwin



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