Luke 18: 1 – 14
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Jesus told us to walk with Abba like we were his toddler. But in real life, when circumstances appear overwhelming, when injustice is reigning, how are we to pray when we feel like our prayers are not being answered? This of course was a big problem for the early church as decades stretched out after Jesus’ death and resurrection and there was no 2nd coming and all kinds of systemic problems continued to afflict the church as they were persecuted, imprisoned and even killed. We have referred to the blood of the martyrs as the seed of the church and indeed the peaceful and confident witness of many martyrs through the centuries has done much to lend credibility to our faith and draw seekers to the source.
So how do we pray when injustice and dire circumstances are our daily fare? Jesus tells us first to pray without ceasing, like the widow who pushes the unjust judge into giving her justice, assuring people that God is not slow to answer their prayers. The question remains, “…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
He continues his teaching on prayer by focusing on our sense of self. Those who believe they are holy and have it together are seeing with their own self-congratulatory understanding and not with God’s eyes. Compared to God, we will always be limited, struggling with our motivation, working to walk well with Him, to flow with compassion when erupting with anger would be so much easier, etc. Knowing our own hearts well, knowing how easily we become prideful or defensive, how thoroughly we filter and distort reality, we need to continuously put our trust in God, not in our own strength.
God give us confidence in your Spirit in us that we can pray as we are led, that we can walk strongly where you point the way and trust you for everything in between. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Noon Day Prayers Question
Will Jesus find faith on earth when he comes again? Even if everything is going from bad to worse and it seems there is no answer to desperate prayers, will he find faith on earth when he comes again?
Luke 18: 15 – 30
People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Following Jesus is not intuitive and he often said things that left people scratching their heads. Whether it was to say you could not enter God’s kingdom unless you become like a little child or it is harder for a rich person to get into the kingdom than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. This kingdom of heaven, the promised realm of God, was certainly not easy to grasp. What it took was leaving everything behind (no distractions) in order to follow him and to do that one had to trust that behaving in such an insane way made sense.
Now Jesus had rich women who walked with him and provided for him and the disciples from their own means. What matters is not whether you follow this new rule of giving everything away but rather that you are following Jesus as your single focus. That in everything you do you are seeking to be led by the Spirit and willing to go where you are led. It takes a certain child-like trust to function in this way, trusting that Abba has your back and in fact created you for a purpose which, with your willingness, can be fulfilled.
When you have wealth or a career and desire to follow Jesus, what matters simply is trusting that God will show you what to do each step of the way as you increasingly are refined by the work of his Spirit in your heart, your community and your circumstances.
Give us grace dear Abba, to trust in your guidance, to surrender more and more to your Spirit, to rest in your presence as we follow Jesus by your grace. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.