I wonder if Luke’s daddy had died leaving behind Luke’s beloved momma. Strange thought? There’s no evidence other than this... Luke used the word “widow” fairly often... twice as often as the other three Gospels combined. For whatever reason, Dr. Luke seems to have a soft spot for widows.
A widow in Jesus’ Palestine was in a tough place. The husband’s estate didn’t legally pass to the widow. It passed to the sons. And because women weren’t generally employed outside the home, if hubby died, momma became dependent upon family, or worse, she became a slave or a beggar. Life was hard for a widow.
Luke records the Parable of the Persistent Widow at the beginning of his eighteenth chapter. Apparently, this widow had an enemy... an adversary. Maybe a businessman had taken advantage of her. Maybe a relative had defrauded her. We don’t know.
But here’s the problem. A woman ... any woman in Jesus’ day ... had no legal standing in a court. None. That’s just the way it was.
But Jesus says that this widow was persistent. She apparently didn’t have a lawyer, but she kept showing up at court. She kept asking the judge to be heard. She kept asking for judicial relief ... for justice.
Now, the judge was no bleeding-heart... not a Bible-thumper ... and not known for being overly compassionate. But he was a realist. He thought, “She’ll never give up! She’ll keep coming back, she’ll keep nagging, she’ll pestering me until I do something!”
So, the widow got her day in court and she got the justice that she sought.
Then Jesus makes the real point. The woman won her case in court because she had audacity and persistence. She received relief because she asked. The Parable of the Persistent Widow teaches us that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1, ESV). We should pray persistently.
Jesus leaves us to ponder two truths.
Number one. We are NOT like the widow! That is, we DO have legal standing in court. We have a lawyer, the world’s best advocate (I John 2:1). And we are welcomed into the courtroom. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, ESV).
Number two. Our appeals are NOT heard by an impersonal, unrighteous, uncaring judge. Our concerns are heard by our Father... a Father that loves His children!
Jesus closes with a question. “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8, ESV). Will He find faith equal to, or greater than, the widow’s faith?
Here’s what I think He’s asking me... Today, do I, a child of God, have the courage to pray big prayers... persistently?