New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – Persistent Widow and Crooked Judge

Such an interesting parable and personal challenge!

Luke 18:2-8

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?”

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

Earlier in Luke 17, Jesus begins His current teaching in response to the Pharisees questioning Him of when the kingdom of God would come. He provided a quick response and then turned to His disciples, and began to teach of their desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and yet will be disappointed. His teaching is directed to His disciples, using a question offered by those who considered Him the enemy.

When did the Lord give this parable?

This parable was given within three months of the passion week. For a helpful document, providing a list of all the events in Jesus Life, check out the following download.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

During the last three months of the Lord’s time in Israel, much of it was spent in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan, and finally in Jerusalem.

Why did the Lord give this message?

He provided a response to the Pharisees, as mentioned above, yet the intent of the parable is directed solely to those who will follow the Master through disappointing times.

Periods of extended time will be required of believers, times of waiting and persevering through times when many things are disappointing. Consider the following to understand the context the disciples were possibly understanding. Many may look to the coming of the Lord as being instantaneous, and very soon, and this is a great hope of mine. Even so, come Lord Jesus. And yet, let us not get our eyes of the fact that His final coming may yet be thousands of years away.

The timing of His coming is to be handled with kid gloves in my understanding, and has caused many to experience great disappointment in their expectations.

A few years back, I did a quick study on the Greek word translated as lightning in Luke 17:24 and found a most amazing teaching. His coming is as the sun rise, and not necessarily as the lightning strikes. In relative terms, the sun rise takes “forever” compared to a lightning strike. Consider the implications.

So why did He provide the parable of the persistent widow? Persevere in prayer through disappointing times, times of seemingly unattainable hope, times when all the cards are stacked against you and the Lord is still waiting to answer.

What was the message for the original audience?

Let’s compare the two characters in this parable.

Persistent WidowUnrighteous Judge
Under persecution by enemyLiving in comfort
HelplessNo desire to help others
PersistentNo fear of God
Genuine need of justiceUnwilling to perform his duties
Received in the endSelfishly gave in

The unrighteous judge is definitely a looser. A man who had attained his lot in life and was riding the milk wagon (milking it, as those in my industry speak of folks prior to retirement as simply coasting).

And yet the Master compares our Father in heaven with this unrighteous judge, who simply offered relief to the widow to get her out of his hair. She just kept pestering, nagging, bugging, requesting, bothering the judge. He wasn’t in it for the justice of the matter. He sought relief from his own “adversary”, the persistent widow.

In all the parables so far, Jesus describes our Father as a loving compassionate God. The Old Testament is rife with descriptions of a patient, loving God who reaches out to an unrepentant rebellious nation time and time again. The unrighteous judge is a diametrically opposed description of the loving Father.

And that is the point!

This is a comparison of difference, and the Master is highlighting their need to understand that their prayers will be heard, even in disappointing, discouraging and difficult times.

What is the message for us today?

Consider the character of the judge and compare each trait with your knowledge of the Father.

I will address only one of the traits detailed above, simply due to the fact that it is dear to my heart this morning. The last trait, the trait of selfishly giving in.

How do you understand our Father in heaven?

Do you see Him as a Father who grudgingly provides a few requests to His people, who is reluctant in providing guidance and support, who is hesitant to give His best to those who seek Him? Who would rather not be bothered?

How is it that you understand the Father in such a dishonoring way. He has provided His only Son for our deliverance, giving Him over to the ravages of whipping, the torture of crucifixion and to experience death for our sakes. The Son is not the only One who suffered on that glorious day, on the day when God the Father selflessly provided His most treasured love to His enemies, to those whom He had created and who constantly despised and rebelled against Him!

He has freely, out of an abundance of grace and mercy, provided us all things for our lives and for our future. Even suffering if required in order for us to grow up into mature children, believers who walk, though haltingly, after the Master and seek His ways.

He is good. In the midst of any experience, He is good. I speak as a fool, since I so often fail to live in His goodness. Join me in seeking to remember His goodness in the midst of any difficult time that comes into our lives.

Persevere in prayer, knowing that our Father in Heaven has provided all our spiritual needs, and knows our current temporal needs. Reflect on the goodness of God in the midst of disappointment, in the midst of fears and discouragement.

He is good. Be a “widow” of persistence in prayer!


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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