Sermon: Prayer, the Fight for Faith (Luke 18:1-8)

Luke 18.1-8AUDIO

Prayer, the Fight for Faith

Luke 18:1-8

Introduction

Our text today introduces us to two people.  First we see an unrighteous judge.  This judge is completely pagan and probably in many ways corrupt.  He doesn’t care about justice or right and wrong.  This judge doesn’t care about what God thinks nor does he care about what people think.

The second person in this story is a widow seeking justice.  We’re not told the details concerning where she has been wronged, all we’re told is she is seeking justice from this unjust judge.  She shows us what perseverance is like as she keeps coming back to the judge until she wears him out.

This text connects to last week’s in a couple of ways.  One is that while we are waiting for the coming of our Lord we must be serving Him faithfully.  If while waiting on our Lord’s return we undergo trials we must not loose heart but battle trials through prayer.  The second indication that we should read this passage with last week’s in mind is that in verse 8, Jesus is definitely teaching this parable in light of His second coming…

So, let’s go back and tie it all together so we don’t miss what our Lord wants us to understand concerning His second coming and the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God.

1st Coming was quiet and barely noticeable

20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” [1]

The first coming was missed because everyone was looking for lightning to flash and when asked when it would happen, Jesus replied, it has already happened.  It’s in your midst.  His point being, whenever the King is present and working, so is the Kingdom.

2nd Coming will be unmistakable

23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.[2]

Now, people are looking for minute details concerning the second coming, trying to figure everything out and Jesus says, don’t worry about missing it because you will not be able to miss it.

While the second coming will be unmistakable to all, everyone will not reap the benefits.  For many, if not most, the second coming will be judgment… Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” [3]

The real issue concerning Jesus second coming, is not will we see it when it happens, Jesus has already taught us that everyone will see it.  The issue for us is what Jesus desires us to get here; will we be ready for Him when He comes?  When our Lord returns it will be too late to get ready.  We must be ready prior to His coming.

This passage is bracketed by a declaration and a question.  One bracket is perseverance in prayer rather than loosing faith and the other bracket is will Jesus find faith on earth when He comes?  So while the parable has prayer as a thrust, the faith of Christians is the real point Jesus is teaching.  When Jesus returns, will He return to a strong Church who has endured trials and tribulation faithfully by seeking strength from God in prayer or when Jesus returns will the Church be weak and faint.

TT- This world system seeks to steal our faith, however, we must fight for faith by persevering in prayer.

18 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ ” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? zWill he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” [4]

1. Fight for Faith (Luke 18:1)

18 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

I really don’t need to remind anyone that we live in a fallen world.  Our Lord’s command here is that His followers must always be praying because prayer will maintain a healthy and strong faith while enduring the trials in this life.

What are some things that may try to rob us of faith?  Everything around us is trying to sabotage our faith.  The entire world system is out to strangle faith in Christ.  Our sinful human nature keeps telling us that we must seek happiness in the material world in the things we can see and touch.  As we seek to live godly lives in this world we will endure conflicts, trials, and tribulation.  Suffering is a big part of our lives while we live in a world system that is in direct opposition to everything Christ stands for.  While all that seems to be working against us we often find ourselves in situations of physical suffering.  Our health may fail at times or may be failing now.  We struggle with pain and physical issues.

All this can, at times, drag us down.  As believers we’re not immune to the struggles of this life.  We’re not going to escape trials and suffering, they are a part of us being in this world.

In fact, many times it’s the trials and suffering are what cause us to pray.

Jesus understands that while we live on earth we will always be in some sort of struggle.  This struggle will also be heightened as we wait for His return.

Life’s struggles can wear us down physically and spiritually.

There is something else we must fight against if we are to maintain a strong vibrant faith.  We must fight against being rocked to sleep by the everyday ordinary things.  Simply getting caught up in the ordinary everyday tasks and events of life can steal our zeal for God away.

Remember last week…

26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. [5]

In both cases, judgment came while the people were caught up in the ordinary.  There was no saving faith at work.  They were not trusting in the Lord but just going about their everyday affairs.  They thought that today was no different than any other day.  They had plans for tomorrow but for them, tomorrow never came.  They were lulled to sleep by the ordinary things of life.

Noah was exercising faith as he built the ark.  Lot exercised faith as he left Sodom with his family.  However, the rest of the people all died.  They had no thought of eternal things but only business as usual.

How much of your time does God have through the week?  How much thought do you give to eternal matters as you go about your daily routine?

Jesus’ point is that He does not want us to loose heart or literally in the Greek loose faith while we are here waiting for His return.  Suffering can weaken our spirit and the mundane can lull us into spiritual blindness.  His answer to how we can maintain a vibrant faith is to persevere in prayer.

We must get the logic of Jesus and understand what He’s telling us in this parable.

Why did Jesus tell this parable?  Amazingly enough, this is one of the few parables that Jesus gives us His purpose in telling it at the very beginning…One Puritan divine said in this parable Jesus left the key hanging on the door.

18 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

2.  Prayer Draws Water from a Deep Well (Luke 18:2-8a)

He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ ” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? zWill he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.

Look first at this judge…he doesn’t care what God thinks or about what people think.  He is an unbeliever.  Jesus declares that this judge does not in any way fear God.  The judge also admits this fact about himself.  So it’s no secret that this judge is not vindicating this widow out of right motives.  He could care less about God and he could care less about this widow.

His motivation for giving the widow justice is so that she will stop wearing him out by her continual coming and by her continual pleading with him.  This widow has not given up she continually came until the unjust judge granted her request.

One word in the Greek that is really a little humorous is ὑπωπιάζῃ which is a word found in ancient Greek games such as boxing.   So this widow is wearing out her opponent with words, the same way a boxer wears out his opponent with punches.  Literally, she is giving this judge a black eye with her words…left hook, right hook, jabs, and a little rope-a-dope.  She is relentless and right before this judge hit the canvas he throws in the towel and forfeits the match.

The point is not that God is like this judge.  God is nothing like this judge.  The reason that we know God is not like this judge is because Jesus says that the judge does not fear God.  The point being if he did fear God he would have immediately came to the aid of the widow.

What Jesus is telling us is that if by persevering, the widow receives justice from an unjust judge, how much more will we receive an answer when we persevere in prayer to our merciful and loving God.

And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? zWill he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.

If the unjust judge grants justice to this widow, how much more will God?  That’s the first comparison.  We can be sure God will grant justice.  We can be sure that when the Son of Man is revealed, God the righteous Judge will dispense justice speedily.

The next comparison Jesus makes is between the widow and the elect.  Just as the widow perseveres in her continual coming, so we, the elect, are to persevere in our continual praying.

Who are those who cry out to God day and night for vindication?  Who are those who are enduring trials and tribulation because of unjust people?  Who are the ones whom the just Judge loves and cares for?…his elect.

One mark of God’s people, the elect, is that when they encounter trouble they don’t give up their faith but they fight for faith in continual prayer.  The elect are the ones who pray night and day according to Jesus.

Show yourself as God’s elect by persevering to the end by prayer.  Prayer is what draws life giving water when the well is deep.  Prayer is what reaches into the realm of the eternal and draws strength when all hope is gone.  Prayer is what grips grace and holds tight until help arrives.  God’s people understand that to endure to the end requires persevering prayer.  Keep praying and don’t loose heart.

3. Prayer is How the Elect Persevere to the End (Luke 18:8b)

Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” [6]

After explaining some of the basics concerning His second coming, Jesus teaches his followers how to address trials and tribulations while on earth.  Rather than forfeiting your faith, pray continually to God and your faith will become stronger even in the midst of struggles.

So the first bracket was Jesus telling us to always pray and not loose heart.  Then He asks a challenging question: Will I find faith on the earth when I return?

Again, we must go back to the previous verses…No faith was found in Noah’s day.  The whole earth was faithless and godless.  Only Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives, that was it.  There was no faith found in Lot’s city of Sodom.  It was a city faithless and godless.  What about when Jesus comes again, will He find faith?

What were the people like in those two generations?

Noah’s Day-

27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. [7]

Lot’s Day-

28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—[8]

The point here is that they were going about doing ordinary things without God.  Business as usual had lulled them to sleep.  They were a godless society.  In other words, God was not a part of their everyday life.  It’s interesting that in the case of Sodom, Jesus mentions no particular sin.  Sodomy is not mentioned.  So here Jesus is showing us that the ordinary can rob us of our zeal for God and our faith in God.

While we wait for the return of Christ, we must fight for faith as we go about our daily routine.

Jesus will find faith on the earth as He finds that His followers are praying night and day and not loosing heart or not loosing faith.

The other battle we find ourselves in is the struggles of life.  Trials, persecutions, and suffering can wear us down much like the widow wore down the judge.  When we are struggling physically we must make sure that our faith is being built up through prayer night and day.

Jesus will find faith on earth as the elect pray to God in the ordinary things and in the trials.

Are you fighting for faith?  Are you in a struggle that is wearing you down?  Are you going about your daily routine and forgetting God?

I pray when Christ returns, He comes and finds His church strong in faith not weak or faithless.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Lk 17:20–21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Lk 17:23–24). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Lk 17:37). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Lk 18:1–8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Lk 17:26–30). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Lk 18:1–8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Lk 17:27). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Lk 17:28–29). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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