Widow And The Unjust Judge Parable
Free online resources based on Jesus’ parable contrasting an unjust judge, and God. This story can be found only in the Gospel of Luke. See below for links to sermons, stories and entertaining sites for this important story.
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?” — Luke 18:6-8 <NIV>
Widow And The Unjust Judge Parable – Summary
At the end of the preceding chapter of Luke, Jesus was reminding the Pharisees and his disciples what would happen to the Jewish people in the End Times (Luke 17:20-37, see also Matthew 24 and Luke 21). Jesus’ 2nd Advent will be with power and glory, and it will be undeniable proof that he is the Messiah to his people, and the remaining nations. Knowing this background will help you understand the Widow and the Unjust Judge Parable. Note also that Jesus was addressing a Jewish audience, and addressing a commonly asked question about his coming Earthly Kingdom, and the restoration of Israel.
Jesus then gives a parable about a widow that came often before an official demanding justice. The judge was a godless man who had contempt for all people. He was not the type of man that would ever care if justice was delayed or denied to a widow.
The widow kept coming, demanding that things be made right. She had been wronged, and the scales of justice needed to be balanced. Justice did not matter to the judge, but the persistence of the widow began to take its toll.
Finally, he settled her case to keep her from coming before him.
Then Jesus provided insight on the parable, “Listen, to what the unjust judge says. Even he, as evil as he was, eventually gave justice to the widow. Will not God give justice soon to His chosen people? Would God delay justice for His people who plead for it? No, He will grant them justice quickly!”
And then Jesus added the essential question of this parable, “But when I, the Son of Man, return, will I find people who have faith?”
This question links back to the end of Luke 17, and the discussion about Jesus’ second coming. Aside from Luke’s introductory words, telling the reader that this parable is about praying and not fainting (or giving up), there is not much more mentioned about prayer. This was a cry for justice. Or as the widow says in the KJV translation, “Avenge me of mine adversary.” Who is the adversary that has been behind all the attacks on God’s people all these years? What does Jesus promise? God will not delay Justice.
Note the similarity of the widow’s cry, to the cry of the Tribulation martyrs in Revelation – “How long before you judge the people for what they have done? When will you avenge us?” (Revelation 6:9-11) As with much of the Bible, I do not believe this to be a coincidence.
God is mercy. He would much prefer if everyone accepted the free gift of Salvation provided by Jesus’ sacrifice. The Tribulation will only be 7 years because of the tremendous suffering the people left here on Earth will endure. Jesus’ return will end this period in dramatic fashion. It will be a “you are either with me, or against me moment” for mankind. Jesus was saddened by so many of his people rejecting him on his first visit. And there will be far too many who will reject him even after enduring the Tribulation.
That’s why Jesus wondered out loud, will he find faith when he returns.
This parable was a stumbling block for me, and probably should be for any Believer trying to apply it to their prayer life. If you take the traditional understanding, that Believers should continue to pester God until you get an answer, it fails when you compare it to Jesus’ teaching on prayer and faith. You could list many verses that directly contradict this notion that repetition, or begging is necessary to get answers, or results from prayer. I would prefer to work from the positive, what God says He will do, rather than assuming what He might not do. To that end, let’s consider Jesus’ words:
If you believe, you will have whatever you ask for in prayer (Matthew 21:18-22).
Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours (Mark 11:22-25).
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Luke 11:9-13).
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples (John 15:1-8).
With such definitive statements coming from Jesus, it seems logical to conclude that there are few delays or restrictions on God’s end. Only John provides qualification – Jesus’ words must remain in you. This is clear because faith can only be based on God’s Word that is stored in your heart. If you don’t know God’s Word, which is His will, you have no foundation for prayer.
So what is the takeaway for Believers?
The contrast between God, and the godless judge, could not be more obvious. The unjust judge delays justice, God gives it speedily. The unjust judge was irritated by the widow continually coming. God encourages you to boldly enter the thrown room and promises to even dwell in Believers’ hearts. The unjust judge reluctantly grants justice to get rid of the widow. Nothing will ever separate a Believer from God’s Love. He is eager for relationship and fellowship with His children.
What about the widow? She continually went before an unjust judge seeking justice. Though she had God’s many promises to defend widows, and to give justice to the oppressed, there is no indication that she approached God with her challenges. You can admire her boldness, tenacity, and persistence, but she is probably not the best New Testament faith role model. The Centurion, the Nobleman, or the Syrophoenician Mother would all three be better faith/prayer examples.
As a Believer, your status has changed from being spiritually dead, to being alive in Christ (Colossians 1:11-14). You belong to Jesus and have been freed from the Law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2). In fact, God is present inside you if you love Jesus (John 14:23, 17:20-26, Colossians 1:18-23). You are a child of God and led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16-17). You have entered into God’s rest (Hebrews 4:1-13). You have Jesus Christ as your High Priest and can come boldly to the throne of God and find the Grace you need for any situation (Hebrews 4:14-16). You live under God’s Favor, or Grace, and keep God’s commandment of Love (John 13:34, 15:9-14, Romans 3:19-24, 4:15-16, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 1 John 4:16-21). Jesus is Lord of lords, King of kings, and you are part of a peculiar people, a royal priesthood, a king and priest of God (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:4-6).
With all that on your side, why would anyone think they have to beg, grovel, plead, or browbeat God into hearing and answering prayer? This is your Heavenly Father, not the unjust judge. You are addressing El Shaddai, the God that is more than enough, not El Shut Up. He is Love, and loves you. Your Creator, the Almighty God, tells you that before you even ask, He will answer you. And if you call on Him, He will answer, deliver, and honor you (Psalm 91:14-16, Isaiah 65:24) Jesus tells you to pray in secret, not to be seen by others, and not to ramble on like the pagans who think more words equals more attention. God knows what you need before you even ask! (Matthew 6:5-8) Jesus tells you not to worry about stuff. Instead, seek the Kingdom of God first, His way of doing things, and all your needs will be abundantly supplied (Matthew 6:25-34, Luke 12:22-34, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15). Nor should you be anxious. Instead, cast all your cares on him, because he loves you (Psalm 37:1-7, 55:22, 1 Peter 5:6-7)
Prayer should be more than just continual petitions, but rather regular praise of, and fellowship with your Heavenly Father. It should be done in confidence, believing that whatever God says, He will do. If you can’t trust the Creator of Heaven and Earth, who can you believe? Your time spent in prayer should be joyful, it should bring you peace, and whether praying with understanding, or in the Spirit, it should build you up, not stress you out. The more time spent in fellowship with your Heavenly Father, the more trust you will have in Him, and the more your life will be transformed into His image. Jesus came to give you rest, and life in abundance! (Matthew 11:25-30, John 10:10, Romans 8:26-30, 2 Corinthians 3:15-18, Ephesians 4:22-24, Colossians 3:1-4, 3:15-17, 1 John 5:1-5)
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! — Matthew 7:11 <NIV>
The widow turned to a godless judge and did not give up until she got justice. You have a loving Father who is yearning for a personal relationship with His children. He is Wisdom, Light, Love, Joy, Mercy, Truth, Righteousness, and Justice. He gave HIMSELF, Jesus on the cross, so that He could treat you like sin never came between you and Him. Get a revelation of how much He loves you, and never ever identify yourself as the widow, or God as the unjust judge.
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” — Luke 18:6-8 <NLT>
Widow And The Unjust Judge Parable in five popular translations – AMP, KJV, HCSB, NIV, The Message:
Widow And The Unjust Judge Parable – Luke 18:1-8
Additional Widow And The Unjust Judge Resources
Please Note: A few teaching and ministry resources may imply, or it could be inferred by some, that the parable is teaching you to pray the same thing over and over and over until you get what you ask – which was a religious stumbling block in my life that lead to much frustration. This would contradict much of what Jesus taught about faith and prayer as discussed above. However, there is value in seeing other Christian perspectives. I would advise you to be careful how you study/teach this parable. Persistent faith, patience, boldness in prayer, or a continuing and active prayer life, would be positive alternative lessons that could be explored and applied to this parable, and would all agree with Scripture. God’s Word and character, and the parable itself, should dissuade anyone of any notion that you have to beg, or otherwise nag God to see results. Jesus’ words are very clear, “I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”
Again And Again – Children’s sermon & links to activity pages
Persistence In Prayer – Children’s sermon & links to activity pages
The Adoption Miracle – An illustrated children’s story about a black cat that prays for a home. Boris learns that he must patiently wait for God to answer his prayer. Part of the Boris Kitty series of online Christian stories. Author Commentary
Widow And Unjust Judge Parable – Bible story and lesson
God Is Not The Unjust Judge And You Are Not The Widow – A lengthy blog on the parable
The Widow And The Unjust Judge – Lengthy lesson on Luke 8:1-8
The Parable Of The Persistent Widow – A lengthy discussion of the parable
The Parable Of The Persistent Widow – A short blog post
The Parable Of The Persistent Widow – A brief blog post
Parable Of The Persistent Widow – An outline (PDF) -includes verse list of prayer hindrances
The Unjust Judge And The Persistent Widow – Sermon Notes
Search for Other Christian Web Sites.
Suggested Search Terms: Jesus, parable, unjust judge, justice, widow, boldness, patience, answered prayer, Luke 18:1-8, vengeance, adversary