Before I begin my message, I want to say a word about our Lord personally. I believe that he was God manifest in the flesh. I also believe that he was not any less God because he was a man. On the other hand, I believe he was not any more man because he is God. He was a perfect man – a real man. And I believe if you had been there that day, you would have enjoyed his company. It would have been a real privilege to be in his company & hear his laughter. I don’t like most any picture I have seen of him; the artists never picture him laughing, & I think he laughed often. Our Lord was so human! In his presence you would have the best time you ever had. You know people, I’m sure, whom you love to be with. I know several preachers whose company I truly enjoy. They sharpen my wit & my mental powers; yet they tell the funniest jokes I’ve ever heard. I think our Lord was good with that. Our passage tells of an incident that I am confident made many people smile.
Read v. 1.
Luke concluded chapter 17 with a discourse on the last days & the fact that Jesus would be coming again. And he said the last days would be like the days of Noah, that they would be difficult days – days that would not be conducive to faith. So now Jesus talks to the crowd about a life of faith in days that are devoid of faith. That is the reason this Scripture is so pertinent for today. We are living in days, as Jesus foretold, when people’s hearts are failing them for fear. We have in this parable a pertinent paragraph on prayer for the present age. Notice that he says he spoke a parable to them about their need; that is, for a purpose, that we should pray & not be discouraged.
He gives the alternatives to anyone who is living in difficult days. You & I will have to do one of the 2. You will have to make up your mind which you are going to do. In difficult days, we will either be discouraged, or we will pray. Either there will be days of discouragement or days of faith.
During WW II, when the bombing was so intense on the city of London, a sign in front of one of the churches read, “If your knees are knocking, kneel on them!” That is a restatement of what our Lord is saying: pray continuously & do not be discouraged.
The apostle Paul put the same thought a little differently, pray without ceasing. This does not mean you are to go to an all-day or all-night prayer meeting. Prayer is an attitude of life. It is more an attitude of life than a practice of the lips. Remember that Paul said to the Romans: The Spirit itself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. That is, they cannot be put into words. And many times, we do not have the words to pray, but we are praying nonetheless. And it is our entire life that is behind the words which are spoken that makes prayer effective.
When Jesus told this story about the unjust judge & the widow, it was probably well known to his hearers. They knew exactly what he was talking about. The story goes like this:
Read vv. 2-3.
So, in this city there was a judge who was a godless fellow. He was an unscrupulous politician, scheming, cold, & calculating. Everything he did was for himself. Everything he did had to serve his own advancement & satisfy his own ambition. He did not fear God. God had no place in this man’s thinking. And since he did not fear God, he had no regard for humanity. He had no respect for this widow at all.
The widow likely was being cheated out of her little home. The mortgage was being foreclosed, & she was being treated unjustly. She went to this prominent judge, took a seat in his office, & asked the secretary if she could talk to the judge. The secretary told her, “He is very busy. If you will just tell me the nature of your complaint…”
So, the widow told her, “I’m just a poor widow. I live out at the edge of town, & I’m about to lose my home. It is unfair & unjust, & I want to appeal to the judge.”
The secretary went into the judge’s office. “There’s a widow out there…”
“Well, I can get rid of her in 3 minutes. I’m a politician, I know how to handle her. Send her in.”
She went in. He listened to her for 3 minutes. Then he said, “I’m sorry, but that’s out of my realm. I’d love to do something for you, but I’m unable to do anything. Have a nice day.”
The next day when he came to the office, there was the widow. He hurried into his office, called his secretary, & asked, “Why is that widow back?”
“She says she wants to see you.”
The judge replied, “You tell her that I am very busy until at least lunch time.”
“I’ve already told her that. But she brought her lunch. She says she will stay here as long as necessary.”
She stayed all that day & didn’t get to see him. He thought he had gotten rid of her. But the next morning when he came in, there she was! She did that for several days, & finally he said, “I have to do something about this. I can’t go on like this.” Notice that our Lord tells us what the judge said to himself.
Read vv. 4-5.
Embarrassing me is a very poor translation. I wish it were translated literally. What he said was, “I better do something, or she will give me a black eye!”
You see, he was thinking of himself. I don’t know if he meant a literal black eye – Jesus doesn’t say that the widow had threatened him! But the very fact that the widow is sitting in the judge’s office every day doesn’t look good. He had gotten into the office by saying, “I’ll work for the poor people,” but he wasn’t – he was working for himself. “Lest she give me a black eye, I’d better hear her.” So, he told his secretary, “Bring her in.” This time he said to the widow, “I’ll give you legal protection.” That’s the entire parable.
Read vv. 6-7.
At this point, many Bible teachers say that this parable teaches the value of persistent prayer. Although I don’t like to disagree with folk who know more than I, I disagree. This is not a parable on the persistency of prayer – as though somehow God will hear us if we pester Him long enough.
This is a parable about contrast, not comparison.
Parables were stories told by our Lord to illustrate truth. The word parable comes from 2 Greek words. Para means “beside” & ballo is the verb, meaning “to throw” – we get our word “ball” from it. A parable means something that is thrown beside something else to tell you something about it. For example, a yardstick placed beside a table is a parable to the table – it tells you how tall it is. A parable is a story Jesus told to illustrate divine truth. There are 2 ways he did this. One is by comparison, the other is by contrast.
Jesus is saying, “When you come to God in prayer, do you think God is an unjust judge? When you come to him in prayer, do you think he is a politician? Do you think God is doing things for selfish reasons?” Friends, if you think this, you are wrong. God is not an unjust judge.
A lot of prayer has gone up - & goes up every day – by the families & others affected by the substance abuse epidemic. Many of them are persistent in their prayers. And often, thank God, prayers for recovery are answered; the substance user hits rock bottom & decides to try to turn their life around.
The opportunity for intervention is usually brief. Individuals living under the bondage of addiction are usually so broken & hopeless that they give up quickly if help is not immediate.
People seeking sobriety are often lost along the way due to a lack of available services & difficulty accessing the services that do exist. Yet many are sober today because of the touch of God’s grace through his people.
Recovery from opioid addiction involves multiple steps. The first step is detoxification. Detox is the process of getting the opioids out of the body. This can take 30 or 60 days, or even longer. It is an extremely painful process causing bone & muscle aches, insomnia, nausea, extreme diarrhea, runny nose, high blood pressure, fever & anxiety. (I sound like a TV drug commercial, don’t I?)
The experience of detoxification is so painful that addicted persons who have experienced detox, but later relapse to use opioids, are terrified of experiencing detoxification again. It is known as being “dope sick.” Many addicted persons would do anything – anything – to avoid being “dope sick.”
There are opioid drugs that can help a detoxing person avoid being “dope sick.” The common ones are methadone & suboxone. They help the addicted person but without the high of heroin or oxycodone. The positive result is the person can begin to live a normal life again. The negative is that the person is still addicted to an opioid.
Being “dope sick” is horrible for an adult. An infant that is born dependent on opioids goes through the exact same detoxification process.
<Video – Quick Tips to Help by Ryan Donnelly>
Read v. 8.
If this unjust judge would hear a poor widow because she kept coming continually, then why do you get discouraged going to God who is not an unjust judge, but who actually wants to hear & answer prayer? Why are God’s people today so discouraged in their prayer life? Don’t you know, friends, God is not an unjust judge? You don’t have to hang onto his coattail & beg Him & plead with Him. God wants to act on your behalf! If we had that attitude, I believe it would change our prayer life – to come into God’s presence knowing God wants to hear. We act as if he is an unjust judge, & we must hold onto him, or he will not hear us at all. But I assure you, God is not an unjust judge.
It is not enough for us to open the church doors & wait for the parents & loved ones of substance users to come in. We must leave our sanctuary & find them! Then we can introduce them to the God who wants to hear & answer prayer.