Faithlife Sermons

Parables of Persistence

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Luke 18:1–5 ESV
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.’ ”
Luke 18:6–8 ESV
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? Will 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?”
We live in a culture where we hate to wait for anything...
We are not a patient culture...
We want what we want and we want it now...
Amazon prime
Skipping commercials
Netflix (skip credits, skip intro song)
Men used work for years to save up to be able to support a bride and family
We want diet pills and supplements to change us right away
The whole idea of credit and credit cards is to be able to have something you can’t afford.
Because our culture is so impatient, a parable on patience and persistence is especially relevant.
We can be tempted to abandon our faith, because we don’t see “payouts” as fast as we’d like.
We can be temped to abandon prayer, because we don’t see God’s had moving in the way or time that we see fit.
Now I want to view this parable verse by verse:
Luke 18:1 ESV
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
Already we know this parable is about persistence in prayer.
Why would we not be persistent in prayer?
We don’t get what we want, when we want it, in the way we want it.
We don’t think it’s effective
“Effective” is sort of the wrong word to describe prayer.
Prayer isn’t the force
Prayer isn’t spells
Prayer is communication in a relationship
The point of the parable is simple, we don’t need to draw too many complex conclusions from it.
However, I am convinced this parable has a broad application and a more narrow application.
Broadly, this applies to all prayer for all things. We ought to be persistent in our prayers because of God’s relationship to us.
Specifically, I think this parable applies to the specific prayer that Jesus’ kingdom would come and that Jesus himself would come as king.
Luke 18:2–3 ESV
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.’
Here we find the 2 main characters of the parable:
Judge: Someone with power, influence, and authority. Someone who was expected to act righteously.
Widow: Someone LACKING power, influence, and authority. Someone dependent on the righteous acts of the judge.
Luke 18:4–5 ESV
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.’ ”
Classic “doing the right thing for the wrong reason.”
So are we to conclude that God is an unrighteous judge who will eventually do the right thing for those who pray? Not likely.
Jesus give some interpretation here:
Luke 18:6–8 ESV
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? Will 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?”
This is to say that if EVEN the unjust judge will execute justice, how much MORE will a just judge execute justice?
Now, this last verse in the parable is the biggest clue as to the primary meaning of all this.
Luke 17 references the second coming of Jesus.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the second coming of Jesus, Jesus taught that he was coming back. He came to the earth once in meekness to save sinners, he’s coming back again with power to judge the living and the dead.
When Jesus comes back to judge the world, Christians will be taken by Jesus. Jesus knows who his people are and he will take them from the earth.
1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 ESV
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
This verse here:
“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Is a reference back to chapter 17 and the discussion of the second coming.
And the question is, will there be people fighting for faith when he comes? Longing for the coming king. Praying “Your kingdom come, your will be done” Praying “Come, Lord Jesus, come.”
There are many references in scripture that make it clear that Jesus second coming will be “like a thief in the night” (this terminology is used in Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 5 .
In Matthew 24 Jesus explains that this means we ought to “be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
So how does this relate to the parable.
What ought we be praying for?
“Thy kingdom come, they will be done.”
As we mature in the Lord, there will continue to grow a deep yearning and longing for the kingdom. For Jesus himself to come back and right the wrongs of the world, for Jesus to come take his proper place on the throne.
Prayer is all about “THY WILL BE DONE.”

Prayer is not about bending God’s will to match our will. It is about bending our will to match God’s will.

Let’s come back to the text:
Luke 18:6–8 ESV
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? Will 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?”
Will he delay long over them?
The question is rhetorical. The answer is NO, God will not delay.
How do I know that?
I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.
As Christians, if we are truly longing for the return of our King, we will inevitably begin to wonder “what’s taking so long?” “Where are you Jesus!?”
This parable is saying, “Don’t stop praying.” “Don’t stop seeking.” “Keep your eyes heavenward, because Jesus IS coming back!”
2 Peter 3:9–10 ESV
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
The Lord is not slow, the Lord is patient...
Swift justice would have wiped us out before we repented.
God was patient with us, and we repented.
God continues in patience, calling all to repent.
CRUISE SHIP ANALOGY
You might be saying, “I don’t feel the urgency.”
“I’m pretty okay with how things are going right now.”
“Jesus could come back soon, or not, it’s all good.”
Well then these warnings are for you.
Matthew 24:36–39 ESV
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Eating, drinking, marrying...
They were doing the normal stuff of life.
Often times, the greatest temptation for Christians is not grievous sin, but ordinary exchanging of Jesus and his Kingdom for the mundane things of life. We settle in disbelief of what God has proclaimed to us.
I am telling you church, let’s not be caught “flat-footed” when Jesus comes back...
I want to jump back to Luke 11.
Luke 11:1 ESV
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
Luke 11:2–4 ESV
And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
Luke 11:5–8 ESV
And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
Without going into this parable in depth, we get a very similar lesson. I’m sure you can see the parallels.
Jesus continues his teaching on prayer:
Luke 11:9–10 ESV
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
There very much is a concept of seeking with fervent hunger and God satisfying.
We do the seeking, God does the satisfying.
Matthew 5: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Jesus’ teaching on prayer continues:
Luke 11:11–13 ESV
What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Again, the same line of reasoning as the parable from Luke 18. If an evil person asks this way, just imagine how a righteous God acts!
I want to end with Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer:
Luke 11:2–4 ESV
And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

God’s plea to us is that we would not stop coming to him as father, king, and provider, redeemer, and guide.

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