Luke 18:1-8 (NIV) Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!'” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 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? 8 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?”
In this passage Jesus is not only addressing the subject of prayer but also a concern of the people who are waiting for God’s justice and vindication. He tells a parable that involves a godless and unjust judge, and a helpless widow.
In those days widows were vulnerable. They had no social security system, no retirement plan and were at the mercy of close relatives or the social justice of the time. In this situation we see a very despicable scenario of an unjust judge and a helpless widow. With nowhere to turn to for justice, the widow kept going to this unjust judge with just one plea “Grant me justice against my adversary.” This went on until the unjust judge could not bear it anymore.
This is how the unjust judge responded: “I don’t fear God; I don’t care about people.” But this woman will “wear me out.” The Greek phrase “Hypopiaze me” literally means to “strike under the eye, give a black eye to” – so it can be alternatively translated “this woman is going to damage my reputation; she is going to bring me to public shame. Yes I don’t care about God, yes I don’t care about people, but I care about my reputation. This is going to hurt my public relations. Because of me, I will grant her justice. Sounds familiar, huh?
God is a Faithful and Just Judge
Then, Jesus turns to his disciples and says if this wicked judge could grant this helpless widow justice how much more will God act on behalf of His chosen ones. For one thing, God is a just Judge. He deeply cares about His chosen one. He deeply cares about His people in Syria, in China, in North Korea, and many other places and contexts—who are suffering because of His name. Above all, He will not bring to shame His reputation.