Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Luke 18:1
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

            A favourite and certainly memorable parable, and a hard one for me too, because Luke already wrote us why Jesus said it! That we must always pray and not give up. So I’ll ask who here was weary and worn out at anytime this week? Now, who has been worn out by waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled, the defeat and destruction of our enemies, sin, death and the devil?

            Luke in the previous chapters records Jesus speaking of the coming of God’s kingdom, salvation through faith in Jesus, forgiveness of sin and that those of the kingdom, saved and forgiven, serve. Now we hear of a helpless widow, coming to the judge for justice, righteousness, we could say that fancy word, justification. She needs justification because an enemy is trying to take her down. To wear her out, to tell the world she’s a failure and to destroy her. How often aren’t we like this widow, worn out not just by dust or babies, but by our struggle with our own sin and the failures of others, weary dealing with the death and sickness in this world, worn down by the attacks of our adversary the devil. How can we stand against all this by ourselves? Will we abandon the truth, let go of what is good, and reject the life God has given us? It’s certainly easier in many ways to live as if God doesn’t care, as if Jesus isn’t going to come back like a thief in the night, to get absorbed into whatever we do in this life; family, work, fame, even being a part of a parish, and to just go with the flow, take the easy way, to give up.

            But the widow doesn’t give up, she knows what is true and she seeks it. Everything is stacked against her, likely she doesn’t even have children or any family to back her up, to support her. She goes to the only one in town who can help, the person who happens to be the nastiest, snobbiest, least qualified judge in any story. Still she doesn’t give up, she goes again and again, knocked back, burdened, but still holding on to the truth. The judge meanwhile is doing his thing, but becoming increasingly annoyed at this widow. However he sees her devotion, and sees she ain’t letting up so he says to himself, self-centred that he is, ‘I will justify her so that her constant petitions don’t end with my black eye’. Yeah, that’s what the word means, and now I’m just picturing some old grandma walking into a court and punching the judge. So unrighteous judge brings justice against the widow’s accuser.

            But what about the righteous judge? The real judge, the one who will judge the whole world. What does He see? When we pray to our Father in Heaven through our King and mediator Jesus Christ by the power given us in the Holy Spirit, what does He, the Judge of all people, what does He do? He will justify His chosen people; He will make you righteous and save you from your enemies. Will He wait until we’ve bothered Him long enough? No, Jesus tells you, He will justify you and all of us quickly. Hallelujah, Good News if there ever was any! But this doesn’t mean that the struggles of this world will be taken away from us, it doesn’t mean that you will never be tempted again, and I know it doesn’t mean that Christ will come back tonight to finish what He’s started because people have been praying for that I dare say since He went. But when we pray, praying the prayer given by Jesus, your name be kept holy through my words and actions, your will be done even conform my will to yours, forgive us our sins, save us from the evil one; when we pray for Jesus Christ’s justification, He gives it quickly, so quick in fact He’s already made you holy in Him 2000yrs ago and made it personal for you when He baptised you. Promising the Spirit in baptism who has also given you faith, trust and understanding in God and His promises. You are saved, forgiven and renewed in Jesus.

You know God Almighty has authority over everything, because He made it. You trust that if anyone can help you it’ll be Him and so, like the widow, you ask. This is the faith! Trusting the creator and judge of all to make us right with Him, and acting on this faith by praying. My son trusts that someone will help him, and Rehab and I hear that trust sometimes loudly during the night. How much more will our Father in Heaven hear your cries, your shouting for salvation, for justice and righteousness. He hears and He justifies giving you what you need, forgiveness and everlasting life in spite of death in His Son, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. Indeed He already has, you are in the Kingdom, in Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives with you, guiding you by Jesus’ words to always pray and not give up; but still Jesus ends the lesson with a question, will he find faith on earth?

The peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ by faith, now and forever. Amen.

Joseph Graham.