Scripture reading – Luke 18

We continue our study of the Gospel of Luke, but I remind you the chapter breaks in the four Gospels will not be as exacting as the historical timeline that led Jesus to His appointment with the Cross. That explanation is not meant to confuse you; but to remind you that the numbering of verses and chapters in your Bible have been added by translators and editors to assist students of the Scriptures in private study and public worship. For example, today’s Scripture reading is Luke 18 and chronicles Christ’s oft repeated prophecy of His arrest, suffering, death, and resurrection (18:31-34). A parallel record of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, and the prophecy of His betrayal, suffering, death, and resurrection is also recorded in Matthew 20:17-19.

Luke 18

Luke 18 opened with a principle on prayer followed by a parable that illustrated both the privilege, and power of persevering prayer.

The Duty of Prayer (18:1)

Jesus began His parable by saying, “men ought always to pray and not to faint” (18:1b). The word, “ought,” indicates prayer is a perpetual necessity. In essence, discouragement and weariness are never cause for neglecting prayer. In principle and practice, we are to persevere in prayer, and never grow discouraged or lose heart, because our answers are sent from the Lord. Be confident of this, God hears and answers prayer!

The Parable: A Widow’s Appeal to a Heartless Judge (18:2-5)

Following His exhortation to always pray, and not lose heart, Jesus illustrated the power of persistent prayer (18:2-5). He told a parable of a widow who petitioned a heartless judge for relief from her poverty, but the man neither feared God nor revered men (18:2).

Widows in 1st century Israel were often poor, and relied on numerous sanctions for their care. Because some sons and daughters neglected the command, “Honor thy father and mother” (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16), widows would often fall to being dependent on charity. In Christ’s parable, the judge did not fear God’s judgment (18:2), and had little regard for his petitioners; in fact, he had even less concern for fairness or justice. Though tasked with a charge to dole out justice, such a judge would often be calloused, and spurious in matters of the law.

Though the identity of the widow’s “adversary” was not revealed (18:3), her perseverance in demanding of the judge her right to justice, was finally heeded when he succumbed to her endless appeals (18:4a). Admitting he was unmoved by a fear of God or man (18:4b), the judge nevertheless yielded to the widow’s demand, and reasoned: “Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me” (18:5).

The Purpose and Application (18:6-8)

If a heartless, unjust, and wicked judge could be moved to justice and action by a poor widow’s appeal, imagine how much the heart of a loving God is moved by the persistent petitions of His people (18:7-8a). We have here a great promise: God hears the prayers of His people (“His own elect” – 18:7a), and in His season, exacts revenge against their enemies.

Closing thoughts – Will you pray, and trust the LORD to answer your prayer in due season? Will you commit to not “faint” or grow weary, believing God hears and answers prayers? Though your adversaries boast, be sure the LORD will answer prayer, and His judgment will fall upon your enemies “speedily,” and without warning (18:8a).

Heed the Widow’s Example, Don’t Lose Faith!

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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