Unjust Judge

Luke 18: 1-18        The Unjust Judge        October 20, 2019


In the parable today, Jesus tells us about a self-centered politician who doesn’t give a hoot about God and could care less about the problems of a poor widow. She keeps pounding on his door until he finally lets her in, not because he suddenly has a surge of decency, but because he just wants her to go away. The place where he says, she is wearing me out, the Greek phrase here means, “to beat someone in the eye.” He gives in to her because she is giving him a black eye. He’s tired of it.

For such is the Kingdom of God.

Let us listen for the Word of God, for this is God’s Word to…


And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; 3 and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Vindicate me against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”


Most parents have had this experience. They go shopping and suddenly their kid sees something they just have to have. What do they do? “Please, Please, Please. Mom. Mom. Mom. Dad. Dad. Dad.” Pulling on our pants, yanking at our skirt. Right? We try to usher them out of the store as fast as we can or we try to bribe them with something cheaper. And, when we see kids throwing a fit and their parents are trying to hush them up, we usually have one of two thoughts, either: “Why can’t that parent get their kids to be quiet?” or “Thank God that isn’t me!”

In the parable today, Jesus tells us about a widow. She is like a little kid throwing a fit in a toy store. One way or another she is going to get what she wants even if it means banging and banging on the door ‘til the cows come home. We have a tiny bit of sympathy for the judge, but we admire the widow.


We give her credit for one thing, don’t we? She is persistent. If we were to tell the truth, the widow in the parable puts us to shame. I think the reason we Christians so often fail to get answers to our prayers is because we don’t wait long enough for God to answer. We drop down, say a few words, and then jump up and forget it. We expect God to remember what He heard, when we already forgot what we said. We pray like a little boy who rings his neighbor's doorbell, and then runs away as fast as he can.

No doubt there have been times we have knocked and knocked on God’s door, but more often, we knocked once and walked away.

In truth, we have grown too used to getting things quickly. Unlike our grandparents or maybe our parents, who had to wait for things, we expect things right now.

We have instant oatmeal. One-hour drying cleaning. Twenty-minute pizza delivery. Oil change in less than an hour. A meal in four minutes. Excellent health for only 7 minutes a day three days a week. Important things take time. Forgiving 400 years of slavery is going to take time. To undo years of bad habits at home or in our church, is going to take time too. And, it’s usually going to involve a change. We can’t expect to make everything better while at the same time changing nothing.

The truth is, we don’t give God a chance. If we don’t get what we want in a day, then we’re tempted to say, “God is fraud and are better off taking care of it ourselves.”

No, God doesn’t answer the door immediately. That doesn’t mean God doesn’t care or that nothing is happening. What it does mean is we may have to pray longer, like the widow. AND, reward may not be getting what we want. Our reward for all those years of practice will be having stronger faith.

I read once that those who are accomplished at anything, you name it: football quarterbacking, violin-playing, frisbee-tossing, horseshoe-throwing, cow-tipping, you name it. If you want to reach a level beyond the level of everyone else, and be considered gifted, be prepared to invest no less than 20,000 hours and be prepared to practice every day.

It's the same with prayer. Most of the time, we ask God for something once or twice and if we don’t get it, we give up. But, not the widow. She is as stubborn as the day is long. She is not about to give up.


What does the widow do? Well, she plants herself right outside the judges’ door, doesn’t she? No telegram. No phone call. No e-mail.

Which tells me if I really want an answer to my prayers, I need to place myself in the vicinity of GOD – if not physically than spiritually, in a place where I will ready to receive what God has to offer. Physically, I may pray in my pew at church, with the Bible in my chair or on my knees near my bed. Spiritually, it tells me, if I am steeped in anger. If I am soaked with envy. If I am full of bitterness. If I am worn out from gossip. If I am deaf to what others have to say. If I am too annoyed to listen or too stubborn to forgive, chances are, if I am in that place for any length of time, I will find myself so very far from that door that even if God were to open it, I would never know, because I am too far away.


Now, the sign of the Kingdom of God is not, I repeat is NOT, getting what we want. Sometimes people will say, “I asked God and God gave me what I wanted.” Well, that’s nice. Except just because you got what you wanted doesn’t mean God wanted you to have it. Unfortunately, God gives us just enough rope we need to hang ourselves. It’s only afterwards we realize, that it wasn’t God who got His way, it was us who got our way.

No, in the parable today the sign of the Kingdom is not getting what we want. The sign of the kingdom is persistence. Heroic faith is not the person who prays for a parking space and instantly cars move aside like Moses parting the Red Sea. Heroic faith is those who don’t get the space, but keep praying because they believe that wherever they end up, God has a better plan.

In C. S. Lewis’s book, The Screwtape Letters, the demon, Screwtape is writing his demon nephew, Wormwood. He tells him the believer they fear the most, are those who look around and sees “…a universe from which every trace of God seems to have vanished and yet still obeys.” There is the person who sends shivers of fear into the heart of Satan.

If we want to find God, look for people who pray and pray. Listen to them. They are the ones who have been sitting outside the door knocking. They know something we probably don’t.


Years ago, I went to visit a monastery in Georgia. For one weekend I attempted to do what the brothers did. Every day of every year, the monks stop what they are doing, go to the chapel to say their prayers and chant the psalms. They pray five times a day: morning, noon, sunset, evening and the morning Watch at 4:00 a.m. They begin with Psalm 1 and work their way to Psalm 150. Then, they start over.

Every now and then, I remember those monks. Somehow it is comforting for me to know that even if I forget to pray, they are praying for me and they are praying for you.

I think of them as being like the guys who used to shovel coal in the engine room of ocean liners. While all the people are on deck, eating and dancing, going about their day, down below are these men shoveling coal into the furnace to keep the lights on and the engines running.

Those monks are like those men. While we got about our day, eating, working and often doing foolish things, they are in their chapels praying for us. They are praying for the world to be right with God, for people to be right with one another and for the world to be ready for that moment when God finally opens the door to all eternity.

I am glad because I know that even when I forget to pray, they remember. They are like the widow, knocking and knocking on that door. They are not going to give up or give in. They are not about to abandon their duty to God or to each other. One day that door is going to swing open wide. They will be the first in because have been right there all along.

May we be like them more and more each day. May we continue to pray for the world to be right with God, for people to be right with one another and for the world to be ready when God finally opens the door and answers our prayers and the SON OF MAN will the faith he was hoping for all along.



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