Sermon Luke 18:1-8 Proper 24C

Here is the proof text for the existence of prayer chains. The idea being that if you are persistent enough and if you can get some others praying with you, you can poke God awake and get Him off His butt and get Him to do something about the situation. After all this widow bothered and was even threatening to the judge, in order to get her way. I guess we should follow her example and wear God down with our constant prayers.

Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with persistent, intercessory prayer, or with prayer chains per se. What is wrong is to equate this parable of the widow with how we are to deal with God and pray to Him.

You see, Jesus has just given the disciples some pretty somber predictions. Now He is preparing them on how to endure the coming storm.

 Jesus uses this parable of a widow and an unrighteous judge as an argument from the lesser to the greater, this parable being the lesser.

It is the same rhetorical technique that Jesus uses when He offers the example of how a father is not going to give his hungry son a rock or a scorpion to eat. He will give him bread. And if an earthly, sinful father knows this, how much more will a loving, heavenly father provide? He will provide perfectly and abundantly.

The same kind of hyperbole is in this text. We have the worst possible judge imaginable. He fears neither man nor God. He is lazy, corrupt, and arrogant. Sounds like he would be a perfect fit for a courtroom controlled by the Mob.

 And speaking of Mob tactics, we see how this widow employs them. She is crying out for revenge. She wants that her enemies should get whacked. And if she doesn’t get her way, she is coming for the judge. Even this corrupt judge fears her. So, he decides to avenge her, without having heard the details of the case mind you, because he literally fears that she will give him a black eye. I know the English translation softens it a bit by saying, “so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.” But literally the text says, “so that in not completing [her request], she might give me a black eye.” So even though the judge doesn’t fear God or man, he fears this widow and knows better than to go against the family.

 So again, this is the example we are to follow? This is what you base your prayer life on? Remember, this is the lesser part of the argument. Now hear the greater argument from our Lord, the judge of the unrighteous.

 Will not God avenge his elect, the ones crying out to Him day and night? The answer is no, He won’t. He will not avenge His elect or anyone else. He will die for them. He will forgive them. He will forgive your hostile threats and selfish cries. God has every right to declare justice against you and all of mankind, but instead He declares grace. He declares that you are forgiven.

Will He delay long over them? Yes, He will. He will delay so that all will come to know of His grace and mercy. I tell, our Lord would speedily give us what we deserve, EXCEPT the Son of Man has come.

When the Son of Man, Jesus, comes, the Father, the judge of the unrighteous, takes vengeance upon His righteous Son instead of you. Christ, who knew no sin became sin for you, so that you might become the righteousness of God. God avenges you by killing His Son! God takes your laziness, your corruption, your arrogance, and your threats and places them upon His Son and declares Him guilty and you free and clear! Wow! God seems to be even more corrupt than this judge. And thanks be to God that He is! This is the scandal of the Gospel. That though you were still sinners, Christ died for you.

So then the question is posed; will faith be found upon the earth? The answer is YES. Yes, because of Christ. Faith is found because the Lord gives it to us. And the faith He gives us has as its object Christ crucified. You were given that faith when you were baptized. When you were killed and resurrected with Christ. You no longer fear God’s Law, justice, and vengeance because Christ has taken it for you, and He in turn gives you His righteousness.

 And our Lord strengthens the faith you have received by giving you His very Body and Blood. Christ drank the cup of wrath, every, single drop. Now He offers you a cup of blessing. He drank unto judgment and death, now you drink unto freedom and eternal life.

 And so now, as one redeemed and cleansed you approach our Lord, not as a fist-wielding widow to a corrupt judge, but as dear children approaching their dear father. You are free to pray and petition your Father who loves you. And when you can’t even pray, His Holy Spirit prays on your behalf. For He is not a God who has to be poked and prodded and threatened to get off of His rear end and do something. When you are not persistent in prayer, He is persistent. When you pray and like Peter, James, and John, you fall asleep in Gethsemane; our Lord Christ is ever vigilant and prays for you. And He will always answer your prayers and you can know with certainty that He will always do what is best for you.

The relationship between you and God is not like a relationship between a lazy judge and an angry widow. Rather it is a one flesh union as a bridegroom and a bride. The bridegroom, Christ, always cares for, provides for, and glorifies His bride, the Church.

And folks, that means you! He will hear your prayers. He will answer your prayers. He will care for and provide for you in body and soul for better, for worse, in sickness and in health. He will never leave you nor forsake you. You sit at the right hand of the Father, in glory, with Christ and you have immediate and intimate access to Him. Access Him now and come to the Sacrament and have all your prayers answered, by receiving all that our Lord has to give you.  

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One thought on “Sermon Luke 18:1-8 Proper 24C

  1. Pastor, thank you so much for this lesson. I read the lessons this morning – as I sometimes do when I pass on actually attending worship (especially when I have no good reason) – but totally missed the context you presented. Thank you for this fresh insight. God bless

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