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?”
Understanding And Applying the Text
Luke tells the meaning of the parable before he tells the parable. They were to always pray and not give up. But who is the “they.” The “they “ are the disciples. Jesus’ disciples were more than the 12 apostles. e.g. Joesph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57) and Nicodemus were disciples. The women were disciples. So the disciple is broader than the apostles. We are also disciples. So the “they” refers to us as well. In other words, this teaching applies to all believers.
Perseverance in prayer is difficult. The difficulty is the result of our unbelief. When God does not answer our prayers the way we desire we abandon hope. Continual prayer is evidence of our faith. A disciple ought to be importunate in prayer to God. That is until they understand it is something God is unwilling to give.
Why? It is not because we can wear God down. It is not because we talk Him into it. It is because the facts don’t always appear to us as they are. The fact is, God, hears our prayers. God cares about what we care about because He cares for us.
Jesus was not saying God is like an unjust judge. There is a wide difference between a wicked man and God. God is merciful by nature. Christ intended to assure believers. They have no reason to fear being persistent with God. Jesus does not compare God with the unjust judge. He contrasts them.
The wicked judge had to give in to the widow. How could it be possible for the prayers of believers to have an effect? We are to fight impatience. The delay is not to seduce us to stop praying.
This is a parable of contrasts. Jesus contrasts an unjust judge with God. He contrasts a judge with a widow. Judges have great power. They make decisions. Even when those decisions are unjust they stand. The widow had no power. This was even more true in ancient times. They had no one to care for them. That is why Scripture talks about the care of widows and orphans. (Act 6:1, James 1:27, 1 Timothy 5:3)
The judge’s only concern was himself. You have heard the expression. “giving someone a black eye.” It does not refer to physical assault. It refers to damage to one’s reputation. The phrase “beat me down” may be a colloquialism with similar meaning. He had no fear of physical attack. But her coming might damage his reputation.
“Listen to what the unjust judge says.” The point of the parable is that the judge’s lack of compassion was overcome by the widow’s persistence. If an “unrighteous” judge will do what is right, how much more God?
Jesus said God will avenge His elect speedily. We often wait to be avenged. Sometimes we wait a lifetime. How can that be “speedily?” Commentators will often try to get out of the dilemma by saying it is speedily in God’s time, not ours. If that is the case then saying “speedily” is nonsense. It is meaningless. We don’t know God’s timing. Are they saying we can ignore that? Does it have no meaning to us? They may not realize it but they are calling God a liar. I do know of any other context where you wait a lifetime or even a decade and call it speedy. No, we must reject that understanding. Jesus meant what he said. And what He said is true. Speedily means speedily.
It is better understood as the suddenness of coming. It does not mean soon. When it comes it will be without warning. It will come speedily without warning. Like a missile file in speedily.
Jesus asks if He will find faith when He comes. This does not mean that there will be no believers. Rather faith will not be a common characteristic of everyone.