As I read through Luke 18 this morning, one verse jumped out at me, and it happened to be the very first one.
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. – Luke 18:1 ESV
Have you ever prayed and lost heart? Have you ever prayed and felt like God was wasn't answering or that He didn't even hear your request in the first place? If you're anything like me, you've probably had this feeling more times than you would like to remember. So this passage really struck a chord with me. You see, I thought I knew this passage pretty well. But in doing my devotional this morning I tried to look at it with a fresh set of eyes. In the last I had always seen the first parable as a lesson in persistent prayer. After all, it's a story about a widow who kept "continually coming" to the unjust judge and ultimately wore him down. But is persistence the real point here? If so, then we run the risk of turning this parable into a license for asking for and getting whatever we want from God. Just ask loud enough, long enough, and persistently enough, and God will eventually have to give in to your request.
But the real point seems to be about the content of the woman's request, not her methodology. Yes, she ultimately got what she was asking for, but what was it that she was requesting? According to Jesus, it was justice. She had asked this judge for legal protection from her opponent. In verses 7-8, Jesus says, "...will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and wil He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly." This woman was in need of justice. So she turned to the only source she knew could deliver it, and she asked for it consistently and persistently until she received it. Why? Because she was helpless and hopeless to do anything about it herself. This earthly judge was her only hope -- for justice.
So what's the point? I need to pray for justice to be done. I need to believe that justice will be done. But when will it happen? According to Jesus, it will come "when the Son of Man comes." Ultimate justice on this earth will only come when the Lord returns and makes everything wrong right. But when He returns will He find His people praying faithfully and expectantly for justice to be done or will He find that we have long since given up and given in? The real message in this passage for me is about praying for the return of the Savior. It is about allowing the injustices I see in this world to remind me that the only solution is His return. When I see someone suffering from a potentially life-threatening disease, I am not only to pray for their healing, but to pray that justice be done. That this wrong be made right. When I encounter yet another marriage dissentegrating before my eyes, I am not only to pray for restoration, but to allow it to remind me that the ultimate, long-term solution is His return. Seeing and experiencing injustice in this world should cause us to pray for His return. I should long for His return more than anything else. To pray for anything less is to expect too little and to settle for far less than true justice.
Do you long for His return? Are you eager to see justice done? I am. And what a joy it is to know that that day is coming. His second coming will bring justice on the earth once and for all.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new." -- Revelation 21:1-5a ESV
Father, may I continue to grow in my understanding of and desire for justice, which is available only through Your Son and will ultimately come when He returns. Help me long for and pray persistently forthat day more than anything else. Amen.