The Parable of the Persistent Widow
18 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”
6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.
Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Observations & Reflections
The parable follows Jesus’ apocalyptic teaching about what the final days will be like. It is a parable about faith and persistence. But it is also about what Jesus is expecting from his followers. As with the previous teaching by Jesus, this parable only appears in Luke.
The parable’s meaning is not about pestering God to get what you want. Rather it is a contrast between God and the ungodly. If even the ungodly will grant justice to the nagging widow then how much more would we expect the Lord to grant justice. It’s a teaching similar to Jesus’ teaching during the sermon on the mount.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25-26)
If even the unrighteous will grant justice then be assured that the Lord will do that and more. We have no need to be anxious about such things. Rather, we should have faith in the Lord and all that he says and our lives should reflect such a faith. When Jesus returns this is what he is looking for.
[Featured image by Lorenzo Otto, titled “St Lucy before the Judge“, from 1532]