The last Penny
57 “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
Observations & Reflections
Jesus’ words should really be connected with the rebuke in the previous few verses, where He was upset with the people for not being able to read the signs of the times. Now Luke shows Jesus turning slightly apocalyptical and is delivering an illustration of the end times. However, Matthew uses this passage in a very different setting. It’s actually a teaching about peace during the sermon on the mount. In reading Matthew 5, it is easy to see why Matthew may have placed the passage there, rather than in a more apocalyptical warning passage. It seems to fit either scenario. Either way, in Luke’s narrative it’s a serious illustration for the audience who will eventually have to meet their maker.
In Jesus’ illustration, He is encouraging people to make peace with their enemies before they get to the court to be judged. In doing so, they do the will of God but also preserve themselves from the wrath of the legal system. Likewise, it was time for Jesus’ audience to get right with the Lord before they have to meet the final judgement. Jesus’ audience (in Luke’s gospel) is being encouraged to be aware of their compromised situation situation with the messiah and the coming disaster for those who cannot reconcile.
[Featured image titled “A Lawyer Going to Court”, by Thomas Couture”]