TEXTS: LUKE 18:1-8; 2 TIM. 3:14-4:5; GENESIS 32:22-30
GOD WILL GIVE JUSTICE TO HIS ELECT WHO CRY TO HIM!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord; Dear hearers of the word made flesh; Jesus told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart (not wear out – not give up). “Nevertheless (He said) –when the Son of Man comes, will he find the faith on the earth?”


Jesus is not teaching that if you keep banging at heaven’s door you can get almost anything you want. That is a common misperception about prayer. If we muster enough forces - gather enough “prayer warriors” (whatever they are) - pray hard enough - God will come across. That is not what Jesus teaches here.


He had just predicted His crucifixion and the end of the world. He had just described hard days ahead for His disciples in a stubbornly sinful world. Jesus reminded of the fire and sulfur God rained down on Sodom when He rescued Lot from that place of homosexual pride and power. Jesus recalled the party days of Noah when people were eating and drinking until the flood came!  Under such outward circumstances – lest His followers despair and give up – Jesus spoke the parable of the widow’s persistent prayer. He thereby teaches that in the darkest of times – when sin seems to be rolling over the world in unstoppable waves, you are not to give up or lose heart.


He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.”  Two bitter branches – lack of fear of God - lack of respect for man – identify this judge. He is a self-centered pagan who felt no shame in a culture of honor and shame.  He cannot be moved for God’s sake because He does not recognize God’s authority. He cannot be moved for pity’s sake because He pays no attention to people’s real needs. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, “Give me justice against my adversary.”

TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, 10/20/13
TEXTS: LUKE 18:1-8; 2 TIM. 3:14-4:5; GENESIS 32:22-30
GOD WILL GIVE JUSTICE TO HIS ELECT WHO CRY TO HIM!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord; Dear hearers of the word made flesh; Jesus told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart (not wear out – not give up). “Nevertheless (He said) –when the Son of Man comes, will he find the faith on the earth?”


Jesus is not teaching that if you keep banging at heaven’s door you can get almost anything you want. That is a common misperception about prayer. If we muster enough forces - gather enough “prayer warriors” (whatever they are) - pray hard enough - God will come across. That is not what Jesus teaches here.


He had just predicted His crucifixion and the end of the world. He had just described hard days ahead for His disciples in a stubbornly sinful world. Jesus reminded of the fire and sulfur God rained down on Sodom when He rescued Lot from that place of homosexual pride and power. Jesus recalled the party days of Noah when people were eating and drinking until the flood came!  Under such outward circumstances – lest His followers despair and give up – Jesus spoke the parable of the widow’s persistent prayer. He thereby teaches that in the darkest of times – when sin seems to be rolling over the world in unstoppable waves, you are not to give up or lose heart.


He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.”  Two bitter branches – lack of fear of God - lack of respect for man – identify this judge. He is a self-centered pagan who felt no shame in a culture of honor and shame.  He cannot be moved for God’s sake because He does not recognize God’s authority. He cannot be moved for pity’s sake because He pays no attention to people’s real needs. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, “Give me justice against my adversary.”


In Middle Eastern society, women do not go to the courts – men go for them. The personal plea of this widow means that she is alone – no father – no uncle – no brother - to speak for her. This solitary widow is a classic symbol of the most vulnerable person in that culture – a person who was being oppressed by an adversary.


The self-centered judge remains true to Himself. 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.’  His eventual action for her does not proceed from compassion for her but from concern for himself. The Greek literally means that he doesn’t want a black eye – he doesn’t want his reputation smirched. ‘I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ 


This is the point of comparison that Jesus makes. It is that character trait that causes ultimate vindication because one’s reputation – one’s name - is at stake. This judge of injustice – this judge who neither feared God nor respected man, was finally moved to give justice to this helpless woman. The reason was concern for his reputation – for being beat down with a black eye. How much more will God whose reputation – whose name - is one of mercy and compassion vindicate His elect?  Will not God give justice to his elect who cry to him day and night?  Amid all the points of contrast, this is the point of comparison!


Dear child of God, history is not random!  God will vindicate you - His elect!  Your future is secure!  God did not name you His child in Holy Baptism – God did not elect you - because you were of a different sort than this self-centered judge!  You also do not fear God above all things!  You also do not respect human life as you should – in the womb – in suffering – in weakness – in your peers – in those different from you - in hard work and success – in failure. You also are concerned about your reputation – what others think of you - what disdain and persecution might come to you as you faithfully confess Christ and His words in hostile times. 


You are not God’s elect because you are a cut above. Purely out of His grace alone for Christ’s sake He has chosen you. Without any merits or good works of yours He called you and saved you. Dead in sin – He made you alive in Christ. Even now He is at work preserving you in the faith!  Will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?   Will he delay long over them?  The Greek word underneath that question (makrothumei) means slow to get angry. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the term is always used in Gospel contexts of God being patient and faithful. It could be taken of God’s dealing with His elect in this way - “He pushes anger far away from them” or “will He not be longsuffering to them. This coordinates the two verbs, “will not God make vindication” and “be longsuffering to them” (the elect)?


Yes, God will vindicate the elect who cry to him day and night in their suffering and distress, not because of their persistent prayers and cries, but because He is merciful and compassionate. God has every right to punish the elect because of their sins but He is long suffering as they journey from baptism to death and judgment!  Jesus continues – I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.


This parable carries end-time tension. It looks toward the justice of the final judgment even as Jesus nears Jerusalem for the judgment of Good Friday. The question of the parable is therefore proper for the one speaking the parable – “will God vindicate His Son who cries to Him day and night?”  His enemies are gathering. His hearers will soon be looking out for themselves. Pontius Pilate will be a judge of injustice – concerned most with avoiding a black eye before Caesar.


Therefore Jesus will soon take the twelve aside once again and say, See we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For, he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him…” (Luke 18:31-33). Will God vindicate His Son who cried to Him in the night in Gethsemane?  Will God vindicate His Son who cried to Him in the day bloody nakedness from the cross?  Jesus answered beforehand in His full prediction…And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.


God’s vindication of Jesus exceeded all that His followers hoped for!  He was vindicated as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world – “It is finished!”  He was vindicated as the one whose blood cleanses us from all sin!  He was vindicated at an empty tomb. Fresh from the grave He was vindicated in a locked room speaking, “Peace be with you.”  He is vindicated in your midst this morning (evening) speaking that same peace to you – His elect.


The long-suffering God who gives justice quickly in His Son desires you, His elect, to pray constantly and confidently. He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.  Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?  The Greek here literally reads - will he find the faith on earth?  Amid all the myths – amid false teachers accumulated to suit the itching ears and passions of those who will not endure sound teaching, when the Son of Man comes will he find the faith on earth?  Will there be a faithful community waiting - at the coming of the Son of Man? 


It is a question from Him who was soon deserted and forsaken by God and man?  It is also a question related to Jacob’s night of struggle and wrestling. Returning home at God’s command, Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men. His very name “Jacob” means heel grabber – schemer and taker. How he had grabbed and taken from his elder brother. Jacob now took his family and servants and everything else that he had and sent them across the stream. And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. As the dark night of struggle is ending the mysterious man injures Jacob in the hip with just a touch. He could have injured Him fatally. But He allows Jacob to cling to Him. Jacob believes this mysterious man is not his foe. He is renamed Israel as the one who strives with God. The prophet Hosea states that Jacob wept and sought His - that is God’s favor (Hosea 12:4). Luther believed that the blessing then given to Jacob was the promise of the Messiah previously given to Abraham and Isaac. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “for I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”


When the Son of Man comes, will he find the faith on earth - the true faith taught and confessed and believed?  Will there be a faithful community - waiting and praying at the coming of the Son of Man?  If the truth be known, we sometimes feel like giving up. You know your doubts. You know your weakness. You know how difficult prayer can sometimes be. In a fallen world there will always be sin and sickness and struggle. In our fallen nature there will always be disappointment and danger and death. The sad truth is that the world will not ultimately get better. Evil days like those of Noah and those of Sodom are not only in the past. They are also in our present and in our future. Sometimes we grow weary and simply feel like giving up.


The saddest part of giving up for those in Christ is that it is a lie – a lie from the Father of lies!  In Christ you have reason to endure hardship with courage and never lose heart. When life is wearisome, when your heart is heavy, when the struggle is severe, when you feel unable to pray – God is still faithful to you. He will give justice to His elect. He delights in hearing your petitions. The one who is your judge is so set on you He took your place under God’s judgment on your sin!


While the widow asked for a square deal, God bids you to keep asking for a gracious, undeserved, eternal deal for the sake of Christ’s innocent suffering and death. He invites you to persist in the prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” and “Forgive us our trespasses.”  Everything depends on His faithfulness. The unjust judge didn’t want to give help to the widow!  God delights in giving His help to you!  The widow was unknown to the unjust judge. You are perfectly known to God – His chosen one, His elect to whom He has given His Holy Name. He wants you to hold Him to His promises of blessing through the blood of Jesus Christ who even now comes to give you to drink of the same.


Last Sunday nine lepers got what they wanted from Jesus – and that was all they got of Jesus. One leper returned and was given overwhelmingly more. He was a nobody – a Samaritan. Today Jesus highlights another nobody with little or nothing – a widow - and what she did have was being ripped off. In her weakness, she would not – not be given to. She just kept pounding away.


Your expectations of God by nature – like mine – are way too small – like the nine lepers. They were closed to His giving them more. What staggered people most about Jesus was that He forgave sins on earth. He still does – and with forgiveness He gives life and salvation!  He bears with our faltering faith that treats Him as a piecemeal Savior – a part time Lord. He is always readying us for His larger gifts – the fullness of his salvation! 


Beloved, the one who was on the cross for you will be your judge!  On that Day – the Last Day – it will be clear to you how tenderly, how generously, He brought you through your dark times – when life seemed widowed – without help. God will not reject a broken spirit – a broken and a contrite heart He will not despise (Psalm 51:17). When the dust settles – the dust of death – you like Jacob – will see Him face to face! 


In the meantime you are to hold God to being such a God who loves to give – to you His elect – always more!  When the son of Man comes, will He find the faith on earth?   The certain answer is “yes!”  The gates of hell will not prevail against His Church (Matthew 16:18)!  No one can pluck you out of His hand (John 10:28). The good work He has begun in you He will bring to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). When the distress reaches its climax in the closing days of this world, God will for the sake of the elect shorten the days of affliction (Matthew 24:22).


He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He Himself comes among you today to give you justice speedily - to create in you a clean heart and renew in you a right spirit.


The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a