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Saturday, October 16, 2010

+ Pentecost + X X I , 2010 +

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
October 17, 2010 (Lectionary 29)
Complementary Series
Genesis 32:22-31
Psalm 121 (2)
2 Timothy 3:14–4:5
Luke 18:1-8

Semicontinuous Series
Jeremiah 31:27-34
Psalm 119:97-104 (103)
2 Timothy 3:14–4:5
Luke 18:1-8

Prayer of the Day
O Lord God, tireless guardian of your people, you are always ready to hear our cries. Teach us to rely day and night on your care. Inspire us to seek your enduring justice for all this suffering world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. The word of God is liv- | ing and active,
able to judge the thoughts and intentions | of the heart. Alleluia. (Heb. 4:12)

1a. CONTEXT: Luke 18:1-8

This parable and the following (9-14) continue the

journey to Jerusalem, Jesus on the way to the cross. This

journey sets Jesus' theology of the kingdom in contrast to

the methods of the kingdoms of this world. Here we see

the freedom of God to act as God chooses, to the surprise

of those who have worked out the systems of the society in

which Jesus and the disciples lived and ultimately to the

surprise of the people of the infant church of Luke's

time. Jesus surprises us by praising unlikely people--a

woman, an unjust judge--for qualities that are not

acceptable in polite society, but are necessary for

survival. The negative example of the judge can be

compared to the dishonest steward of chapter 16.

At chapter 17:20, the Pharisees have asked a question

about the coming of the kingdom. Jesus discusses with

them the apocolyptic expectation of the day(s) of the son

of man. Danker points out that in this discussion Jesus

subsumes the traditional idea of the day of the Lord under

the idea of the Kingdom, rather than making the two

identical, thus making Jesus' appearance at the end of

time continuous with his contemporary activity. This

parable comes as an admonition to tenacity of faith in the

face of the oppostion of this world. The emphasis is not

on apocolyptic curiosity, but on current relationship to God.

1b. TEXT: Luke 18:1-8


The Parable of the Persistent Widow

18:1 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 respected man.
3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’
4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”
6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.
7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?
8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.


1Ἔλεγεν δὲ παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς πρὸς τὸ δεῖν πάντοτε προσεύχεσθαι αὐτοὺς καὶ μὴ ἐγκακεῖν, 2λέγων, Κριτής τις ἦν ἔν τινι πόλει τὸν θεὸν μὴ φοβούμενος καὶ ἄνθρωπον μὴ ἐντρεπόμενος. 3χήρα δὲ ἦν ἐν τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ καὶ ἤρχετο πρὸς αὐτὸν λέγουσα, Ἐκδίκησόν με ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀντιδίκου μου. 4καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν ἐπὶ χρόνον, μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα εἶπεν ἐν ἑαυτῷ, Εἰ καὶ τὸν θεὸν οὐ φοβοῦμαι οὐδὲ ἄνθρωπον ἐντρέπομαι, 5διά γε τὸ παρέχειν μοι κόπον τὴν χήραν ταύτην ἐκδικήσω αὐτήν, ἵνα μὴ εἰς τέλος ἐρχομένη ὑπωπιάζῃ με. 6Εἶπεν δὲ ὁ κύριος, Ἀκούσατε τί ὁ κριτὴς τῆς ἀδικίας λέγει: 7ὁ δὲ θεὸς οὐ μὴ ποιήσῃ τὴν ἐκδίκησιν τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν αὐτοῦ τῶν βοώντων αὐτῷ ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός, καὶ μακροθυμεῖ ἐπ' αὐτοῖς; 8λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ποιήσει τὴν ἐκδίκησιν αὐτῶν ἐν τάχει. πλὴν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐλθὼν ἆρα εὑρήσει τὴν πίστιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς;

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: Luke 18: 1-8

Lk.18: 1 & 7, 8 The extent of the parable itself is

in dispute. Those who limit the parable to verses 2-5

place primary emphasis on the tenacity of the woman.

Those who hold that the original story continues to verse

8a place a dual emphasis on the judge and the woman, with

the judge being a negative example: If an unjust judge

can be persuaded to act justly, how much more will God act

in behalf of the people of God--the elect. To the

people whom Luke addresses this Gospel, the question of

the Pharisees in chapter 17 is pertinent when rephrased:

How long do we need to put up with abuse in this world?

The answer comes in verse 8: God will come unexpectedly

to see justice done--therefore, remain faithful until the


Under the latter interpretation, Luke's introduction to

the parable (verse 1) is too limiting, because it

emphasizes prayer in a manner that manipulates God,

whereas the emphasis on the judge in verses 7 and 8 lifts

up the compassion of God.

Lk. 18: 2-5 Scholars generally agree that the case as

presented is financial in nature, possibly relating to the

inheritance. The widow may have been quite young, as the

marriage age tended to be 12-15. Jeremias quotes an 1894

text which tells of a similar incident in Mesopotamia,

which the author had witnessed, wherein a woman cried out

because she did not have the money to bribe the judge's

secretaries in order to gain a hearing. The judge asked

about the ruckus, then heard the woman's case. Some

scholars see this as another instance of Luke's concern

for the oppressed, especially the poor and women.

Lk. 18: 5 [upopiaze me] It is debateable whether the

judge literally fears a black eye, or figuratively fears

exposure at some public scene.

3. STRATEGY: Luke 18: 1-8a

I suggest two possible themes for preaching: (1)An

emphasis on prayer without ceasing in the face of

difficult circumstances (God, are you listening?), or (2)

an emphasis on being found faithful to the end.

One way of recognizing the dual affect of prayer

without ceasing and faithfulness for an extended length of

time might be to recall the underground Christians of

Japan who continued to practice faith during persecution

by creating secret altars in their homes and passing the

faith quietly from generation to generation. One problem

with this illustration for those of us who worry about Too

much individualism in the American church is the fact that

even after the practice of Christian faith is safe in

Japan, the hidden Christians still continue their hidden

ways. Even so, the practice of prayerful hope in the

midst of an uncertain future supports both aspects of our


"When Arsenius (one of the desert fathers) had asked

for the second time, "Lord, lead me to the way of

salvation," the voice that spoke to him not only said, '

be silent' but also, 'pray always'...The literal

translation of the words 'pray always' is 'come to rest.'

The Greek word for rest is [hesychia], and [hesychasm] is

the term which refers to the spirituality of the desert.

A hesychast is a man or a woman who seeks solitude and

silence as the ways to unceasing prayer. The prayer of

the hesychasts is a prayer of rest. This rest, however,

has little to do with the absence of conflict or pain. It

is a rest in God in the mist of a very intense daily

struggle." (Nouwen, p. 55f)

Another approach to continuous prayer might be an

introduction to Psalm 13: "How Long, O Lord..." The

Psalm concludes with reliance on the steadfast love of the


"Our whole life is an effort to approach, to

appreciate, to some degree to participate in, the

absoluteness of God himself. But we can never do it;

that's why our whole life is a restlessness....This

restlessness may make us want to throw in the towel--or to

pull up our socks. You can play it either way. You can

either be creatively restless, as before the unknowable,

or you can simply collapse into futility. One of the

goals of the Christian message is to join together the

people of the way, the way of an eternally given

restlessness, and to win from that restlessness the

participation in God, which is all that our mortality can

deliver." (Sittler, p. 28.)

There are always stories of times of crisis in our

communities--either of personal, local, or broader

nature--in which there has been perseverence in the face

of great odds. I think of the variations in coping with

the great depression, the resentment that destroyed lives

and families as over against the faithfulness that created

systems of cooperation.

4. REFERENCES: Luke 18: 1-8a

Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976.

Jeremias, Joachim. REDISCOVERING THE PARABLES. New York:
Scribner’s, 1966.

NEW TESTAMENT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974. IV 187 f, 380 f; VIII435, 590 f; IX 449 f.

Nouwen, Henri. THE WAY OF THE HEART. New York:
Ballantine, 1981.

Sittler, Joseph. GRAVITY AND GRACE. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1986.

Exegete: Rev. Herman W. Frerichs III (RT) lives in Sprinfgield, MO.


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