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Prayer and Patience for Justice

• Seth McCoy

The parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge is deeply rooted in the larger story of God’s faithfulness to Israel, Jesus’ re-enactment of that story, and the question of whether Jesus will find faith on earth when he returns.

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Seth began by reminding us that parables are not short stories with memorable punchlines like we might find on a bumper sticker. Instead, they are more like puzzles or riddles where we have to ponder them a bit and try to figure out what they mean to us and how we—personally and collectively—might fit into the parable. And how we fit might change from day to day as our life circumstances and choices change.

The parable in today’s text doesn’t stand alone, but rather echoes with huge themes from the history of Israel. Themes like the crying out of the oppressed to the powerful but unjust rulers who don’t honor or fear God. Another theme is the reminder of God’s persistent faithfulness to God’s people throughout history. And yet another theme is the open question of whether—in the end—God’s people will be faithful, patient and relinquish control in difficult times.

Seth guided us away from a one-size-fits-all interpretation of this parable toward a more probing engagement with these themes and our responses to these patterns in today’s world.

In review: The widow cries out for basic human dignity and rights in an unjust situation. She responds to her adversary peacefully and seeks justice from the authority. As she does so, she witnesses to the injustice she is suffering…she won’t be silenced, but she won’t resort to violence or threats to coerce either.

The unjust judge doesn’t care about God or people but does have power and authority. Eventually he responds to the cry of the widow and grants her justice, but its not for the sake of justice, but rather to put an end to her pestering him and calls attention to his hardheartedness.

After asserting that God is the just judge, Jesus asks the question, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Seth challenged us to let this parable break open our own world and speak to us. We’ll explore that in the questions below.

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Topics: Faith, Justice, Pain & Suffering

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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 18:1-8

    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 what people thought. 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 what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually come and attack me!' “

    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?"

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