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LUKE 18:1-8

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
May 13, 2001

Please turn with me to Luke 18:1-8 - our text for this morning.

Former heavy-weight boxer James “Quick” Tillis is a cowboy from Tulsa,Oklahoma, who fought out of Chicago in the early 1980s. Tillis still remembers his first day in Chicago after his arrival from Tulsa. Tillis says, “I got off the bus with two cardboard suitcases under my arms in downtown Chicago and stopped in front of the Sears Tower. I put my suitcases down, and I looked up at the Tower and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to conquer Chicago.’ “When I looked down, the suitcases were gone.”

There are too many times in our lives when we feel like James “Quick” Tillis. Times when it would be very easy to be discouraged - to give up - to lose heart. In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus is telling His disciples a parable to encourage them - to keep praying - to keep trusting God - even in the “Quick” Tillis times of our lives.

Luke 18:1: Now He - Jesus - 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.”

I once heard about a young lawyer who opened an office in a small town right on the main street of the town. Being the only lawyer in town he thought he would do quite well. But, after a few months he was going broke and thinking of closing his office. Just as he was about to give up another lawyer opened an office across the street. And now they’re both doing quite well.

I know I probably offended somebody with that. Let me say that I don’t believe that all lawyers are crooks. But, this judge was a crook. He was only in the profession for the money and really didn’t care about anyone but himself.

Verse 3: There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him - the judge - saying, “Give me legal protection from my opponent.”

In the Bible - according to God’s law - widows are given a special place - special protection (Exodus 22:22-24; Deuteronomy 10:18; 24:17) - because in the culture of that day widows were nearly helpless. They had no husband to protect them - no one to watch out for them. In Jesus’ day, widows were looked down on and they were easy prey for unscrupulous men. Their only hope was the intervention of someone who would dispense justice.

So, this widow comes to this corrupt judge and demands justice. And, notice also, that, “she kept coming to him.”

We can just imagine what this would have been like. One day this widow shows up in the judge’s courtroom. The judge - who really isn’t interested in seeing anyone - has a lesser official send her away. But, the next day she’s there again.

So, reluctantly he agrees to see her. After a few minutes the judge interrupts the widow with some sort of “brush off” line, “I’m sorry. I’d really like to help you. But that isn’t in my jurisdiction. So, I really can’t help you.” And he quickly escorts her out of his office.

But, the next day there she is again. And the next day. And the next. Always with the same request, “Give me legal protection from my opponent.” No matter what the judge tries he can’t get rid of this obnoxiously persistent widow.

Verse 4: For a while he - the judge - was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, “Even though I do not fear God or respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.”

Notice this phrase, “she will wear me out.” In the original Greek this is one of those expressions that doesn’t quite translate into English. Like in Armenian we say, “keeten dagen eengav” - “he fell from under his nose” - meaning “he took after him.” Or, “achkus mudar” - “You went inside my eye” - meaning “I appreciate you.” This phrase in Greek literally means something like, “she will give me a black eye.”

In other words, this judge is going to help her because he’s thinking about himself. He doesn’t care about the widow or poor people. He’s only thinking about appearances. “People - my constituency - actually think I care about them. What will people think if this widow keeps showing up here and I keep turning her away.” So, the judge gives the widow legal protection.

Verse 6 - now here’s the point of the parable - the application to our lives: And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said - think about the attitude of the corrupt judge who finally granted the widow’s request - now, will not God bring about justice for His elect - God’s people - who cry out 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?”

By contrast with the unjust judge - Jesus is making two points of application. First, God will bring justice for His people.

There are times when we think God is unjust. Times of sickness - of suffering - of injustice - of loss. Times even of genocide and wars. Times that make our hearts seize up and our chests to grow tight. Times when fainting would be a relief. Times when we wonder if we can go on or if we should. We’ve all been there to one degree or another.

Jesus is asking His disciples - and us - a question. “When you pray - when you cry out to God - do you think God is unjust? Do you think that God is uncaring - corrupt - unrighteous - only interested in Himself and what He gets out of it? If you think this - Jesus says - you’re wrong. God is not unjust.”

Ron Ritchie - teaching on this passage - quotes George Campbell Morgan - the great congregational pastor - Morgan wrote this concerning the character of God: “There are things He cannot do because they would deny the truth concerning Himself, His righteousness, His holiness, His justice, His compassion; and God cannot be unrighteous. God cannot be other than holy, God cannot be unjust, and God cannot fail in mercy.”

God is not like this unjust judge who only answered the widow’s petition because she bothered him. God actually wants us to come and pray before Him. He wants to hear us and to answer our prayers. God will bring justice for His people.

The second point of application is a question. Knowing that God is just, will we trust God?

Its easy to pray and to be discouraged. If I asked for a show of hands this morning - and you don’t have to raise your hands - but, if I asked for a show of hands - how many of you have been praying for months - years - specifically for a family member - an illness - a situation in your lives- direction and guidance - prayers for restoration and healing - and God has not given you His answer yet? Is God just? Does He care? We know God is just. But when faith meets the hard reality of life - will we trust God?

Jesus - while sharing this parable - is speaking to a group of men - the disciples - all of whom but one - would suffer severely and be martyred for their trust in God. The lone exception - John - would live out his last days in exile. How can we trust God?

The Apostle Peter - writing shortly before he was martyred - during a time when Nero’s persecution of the church was growing in severity - writing during a time when false teaching was tearing at the heart of the church - when believers were beginning to doubt that Jesus was returning - when the question of the day was, “How can we continue to trust God?” - the Apostle Peter writes in 2 Peter, “Don’t let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness - as we - living in this email / www world - who are constantly checking our stopwatches think about the passing of time - but God is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8,9)

Its great when God lifts the curtain so we can see what He’s doing behind-the-scenes. God has heard our cries. And, God is responding. God’s whole plan - His purpose and program through-out the ages of history - is for mankind to repent and to turn to Him. Only God knows what that takes - or how long - to work in our hearts to accomplish that eternal transformation - to accomplish those things that endure far beyond our “stopwatch mentality.” Whether we see it or understand it or not - God is doing it. What He asks, is for us to trust Him.

On commuter flight from Portland, Maine, to Boston, Massachusetts, Henry Dempsey, the pilot heard an unusual noise near the rear of the small aircraft. He turned the controls over to his co-pilot and went back to check it out.

As he reached the tail section, the plane hit an air pocket, and Dempsey was tossed against the rear door. Dempsey quickly discovered the source of the mysterious noise. The rear door had not been properly latched prior to takeoff, and it flew open. Dempsey was instantly sucked out of the plane.

The co-pilot, seeing the red light that indicated an open door, radioed the nearest airport, requesting permission to make an emergency landing. He reported that the pilot had fallen out of the plane. He requested a helicopter search of that area of the ocean.

After the plane landed, they found Henry Dempsey - holding onto the outdoor ladder of the aircraft. Somehow he had caught the ladder - held on for ten minutes as the plane flew 200 mph at an altitude of 4,000 feet - then at landing - kept his head from hitting the runway - only twelve inches away. It took airport personnel several minutes to pry Dempsey’s fingers from the ladder.

We need to hold on to God like that - no matter what the turbulence in our lives - so that nothing can pry us away from our faith - our salvation - in Him. There is no other alternative.

Jesus asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

When Jesus returns - and He will - and God who is just puts everything to right - even in these difficult days - when He returns will He find us losing heart - forgetting to trust Him - working out our own solutions - fainting before injustice? Or will He find us on our knees - praying - trusting - looking for Him with expectation?

Psalm 37:5 contains a promise for us. It’s the point Jesus is making in this parable: “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.”

There’s one last thought I’d like to share specifically with our mothers here today. There’s a Jewish proverb that says, “A child without a mother is like a door without a knob.”

Where would we be without our mothers? For one thing, without our mothers none of us would be here. Mothers play such an important role - a critical role - in our development - from conception and beyond - a crucial role in the fabric of our lives.

George Campbell Morgan had 4 sons - all of whom became pastors. One day one of the sons - Howard - was asked, “Who is the greatest preacher in your family?” Howard looked straight at his father and said, “Mother.”

Susannah Wesley spent one hour each day praying specifically for her children. Every week she took each child aside for one hour to discuss spiritual matters. Two of her sons, Charles and John were used of God to bring blessing - renewal and revival - to all of England and much of America. And, we could go on sharing example after example of God using Godly mothers.

Here’s what I’d like to share with our mothers this morning - applying what Jesus said about praying and not loosing heart - mothers - grandmothers - parents - aunts and uncles - hang in there with your kids. Your influence is greater than you may ever know this side of heaven. Pray and keep on praying - trust God. He hears with His heart of justice and love. He loves and is already working in the hearts and lives of your children.