This parable is recorded in Luke 18:1-8, and was told to encourage the disciples to pray and not give up (v. 1). It is certainly interesting that in the preceding section, Jesus has been telling His disciples about His return, having noted that there will be days in which they will be seriously wanting Him to return immediately; but He won’t be back in their lifetimes. (17:22) Viewed with this background, the Persistent Widow is rather instructive.
It seems that there was a judge who was neither a God-fearing man, nor a man who cared about other people. Apparently he was in this life for himself alone. A widow brought a claim of injustice to him, but he couldn’t have cared less about justice for the poor widow and sent her away. Yet, as often as this wicked judge sent the widow away, she would return asking for justice. After a time, the judge realized that she would continue pestering him until she got what she was after, and thinking that this would drive him crazy, he finally acted on her claim.
Jesus makes the point that if even this wicked judge would provide justice for the widow, surely a loving God will hear the persistent cries of His “chosen ones” and give them justice quickly. We must be willing to take our petitions to God and to have enough faith to keep at it. Even though God’s timetable may not quite mirror my own, He will not keep putting us off.
Jesus ends the parable with a challenge, asking whether He will find anyone of faith when He returns (v. 8).
I have no idea when He will come, and chapter 17 has made the point clear that whenever the time is, it will be a surprise. Will we, or whomever is left, have given up on prayer? Will we have forgotten to call upon our God in faith? Will we have become so jaded and discouraged that we will have just given up?
Sometimes I wonder, but when I look around at the awesome things that God is doing in his church today, at how lives are being changed right in front of our faces, when I consider how people who I know have grown in their faith and how many of them are willing to turn their backs on the old life to follow Jesus Christ wherever He leads them, I am greatly encouraged. Even though our world is a mess, I have come to the conclusion that if Jesus should return today that He would still find those who have placed their faith in Him and who would serve Him through thick and through thin.