his way to his last visit in Jerusalem, Christ takes the time to teach his
disciples about the kingdom of God. Using stories and matters at hand, he
imparts to them the simple yet profound character of the kingdom.
He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and
not to lose heart, saying, "In a certain city
there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. "There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to
him, saying, 'Give me legal protection from my opponent.' "For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to
himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal
protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.'"
And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous
judge *said; now, will not God bring about
justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over
them? "I tell you that He will bring about
justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find
faith on the earth?"
(Luk 18:1-8 NASB)
not lose heart
understanding of our prayer life is shown here. To tell a Jew of this time
that he ought to pray would be redundant; to tell him that he ought to pray
constantly would have been disbelieved (rightly so.) Instead, he identifies
the problem most of us have with persistence in prayer: we give up much too
of us think ourselves too much a sinner to pray effectively. That we are
all sinners is clear; Christ inquires only of your direction, not the pig
wallow you came from.
– raised on evangelists who tell you to repeat this prayer, word for word
– feel they don’t have the right words. Prayer is not magic. If you
still think you need the right words, read the Psalms. But pray.
most of us it’s simply this: God never gives me what I ask for. This is
usually a sign that God will give you what you need; it’s obvious you
don’t know what’s good for you. There is a reason we don’t give
submachine guns to small children.
we just give up too soon. Wait upon the Lord, as the Scriptures say.
the usual title; it would be more fittingly called The Persistent Widow. I
call your attention to her characteristics:
a widow – which in that time meant “poverty stricken.” This is not
someone whom God has favored in matters monetary. It is safe to conclude
that there is nothing extraordinary about her relationship to God.
please, her simplicity. She does not approach with a smorgasbord of
demands, as we sometimes do. Nor does her cause seem particularly
important in the larger scheme of things; no grandeur here. The cause was
important only to her. This doesn’t sound so noble, does it?
course, we note her persistence.
comparison is not that we must nag God over and over again; it’s that our
persistence will be rewarded both quickly and richly.
often feel the Almighty to be too slow with us. Patience is a virtue; God’s
patience with the sinners of this world is an excellent example. Remember that
while he is delaying what you want he may be the salvation they need. Do you
not see what this is? The question is not so much of “how persistent” we need
to be; it is more a question of whether or not we trust him – or lose heart
along the way. There is a connection between faith and prayer; the kingdom of God is built by the prayers of the faithful.
He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they
were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: "Two
men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax
collector. "The Pharisee stood and was
praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people:
swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' "But the tax collector, standing some distance
away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his
breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' "I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather
than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who
humbles himself will be exalted."
(Luk 18:9-14 NASB)
us begin by stating the obvious: the Pharisee is factually correct. He is
more righteous than the other guy.
Law required fasting only once a year, on the Day of Atonement. The
Pharisees fasted every Monday and Thursday.
Law required a tithe of most major agricultural things; he exceeds this
by tithing even the herbs from his garden.
problem is not his practice but his attitude.
despises the tax collector; it is an attitude of hatred.
passes judgment on the tax collector (how we are taught not to do that).
assumes that God agrees with him.
note one thing: what was it the Pharisee wanted of God? The only thing
mentioned here is for God to agree with his assessment of himself and the tax
collector. Even that is not certain; whatever his request was, it’s missing
now. He did not go to the Temple to seek the Almighty in prayer; he went to
tell the Almighty how lucky he was to have a servant like me.
tax collector at least had a clear idea of why he was there.
had a clear idea of who he was. He was a tax collector, a toad who
worked for the invading Romans. As we can see from the Pharisee’s
pronouncement, that makes him worse that swindlers, the unjust or even
had a clear idea of who he wasn’t. He knew he wasn’t righteous;
he knew he wasn’t worthy. To the extent that he didn’t even go up near
the temple; he’s at the back of the church in the hope that the preacher
won’t notice him.
had a clear idea of what he wanted. He wanted mercy; mercy from
the God whose mercies are new every morning. And he got it.
kingdom of God comes in prayer; also in humility.
the little children
they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but
when the disciples saw it, they began
rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, "Permit
the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. "Truly I say to
you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it
(Luk 18:15-17 NASB)
is useful here to ask, just what characteristics of a young child are
commendable to the Christian? Here are a few:
remember that Christ spoke in a culture in which children were last and least.
It was also a society in which the Prodigal Son was a minority. Of obedience
in children we may observe:
is commanded, expected and fruitful even though you don’t know “why.”
Children are taught to do as they are told; the explanations sometimes
come years later.
know that obedience pleases both God and their parents. Such pleasure
leads to good; disobedience to hard times.
is a good habit for children, indeed for their own good. There is a
reason we don’t let them play soccer on the freeway.
to be taught
are naturally curious. They want to know things. For the childlike faith we
should take the same attitude. We should want to know.
should not desire just any answer. Like our children, we want to know the
right answer. Good enough, isn’t
as any parent can tell you, “Why?” is the most frequent question. To grow in
understanding is to grow as a Christian.
over their heads
children are simply not capable of understanding or handling their world. They
are accustomed to the idea that they would not understand.
common to them to be “out of the loop.” They know that they don’t know
they do know, it’s common that they don’t understand.
once they master one level of comprehension, they find that the onion of
knowledge indeed has many layers.
is this willingness to live without knowing everything, yet curious about all
things, that marks the Christian who has learned to “wait upon the Lord.”
children have that innocent trust which renders them both charming and helpless.
know that their parents love them.
know that their parents are strong.
understand that the power to correct them is also the power to save them.
God in those three bullets and see if that doesn’t mean trust.
children have this too: they are loyal to their parents and their family.
look back on those things: obedience, the ability to be taught, comfortable
even though they’re in over their heads, trusting and loyal – do these not
describe the child of God?