Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Parable of the Unjust Judge & the Friend at Night: Never Give Up

“In 1972, NASA launched the exploratory space probe Pioneer 10. According to Leon Jaroff in Time, the satellite's primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph the planet and its moons, and beam data to earth about Jupiter's magnetic field, radiation belts, and atmosphere.

Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission and much more. It made it to Jupiter, but in November 1973, Jupiter's immense gravity hurled Pioneer 10 at a higher rate of speed toward the edge of the solar system. It passed Saturn. At some two billion miles, it hurtled past Uranus; then Neptune; Pluto at almost four billion miles. Today in May 2022, Pioneer 10 is still going, 19.7 billion miles from Earth.

And despite that immense distance, Pioneer 10 continued to beam back radio signals to scientists on Earth. "Perhaps most remarkable," writes Jaroff, "those signals emanate from an 8-watt transmitter, which radiates about as much power as a bedroom night light…” Engineers designed Pioneer 10 with a useful life of just three years. But it kept going and going.

So it is when we offer ourselves to serve the Lord. God can work even through someone with 8-watt abilities. God cannot work, however, through someone who quits.” -Craig Brian Larson, Pastoral Grit: the Strength to Stand and to Stay

Today we consider two different parables that have an important uniting theme: Don’t give up. Be persistent. Keep praying. We consider the parables of the unjust judge and the friend at night. Both of these people, the friend at night, and the woman requesting justice are doggedly determined to achieve their goal.

The question I want you considering as we discuss the scriptures today is: Am I persistent and determined in my walk with God? Do I pray and never give up?

Let’s take a look at our first parable the unjust judge, also known as the parable of the persistent widow.

Luke 18:1-8 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 what people thought. 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 what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

Well, we don’t have to wonder at the meaning of this parable, Luke gives us the meaning at the very start, that this parable is to show that we should always pray and never give up.

And we get an additional explanation in verses 6-8: “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?”

Jesus the Lord says, listen to what the unjust judge says, he said, I will see that she gets justice. Will God keep putting us off? No. He will see that we get justice, and quickly.

And then we get verse 8. What on Earth does Jesus mean when he asks the question in verse 8: When the son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

This one has puzzled theologians down through the ages. Is he questioning whether at his return there will be any Christians left at all? Perhaps that is part of it. But more, perhaps he is asking, will Jesus find that we’ve really trusted Him to deliver justice.

That is a question for each of us to ponder: Do I really trust Jesus to administer justice?

Now, the parable of the friend at night. First, let’s look at the context:

From Luke 11:1-13, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”

Jesus was praying, by himself, and his disciples saw him and asked him, ‘teach us to pray.” And Jesus gave them the famous prayer, the Our Father. A beautiful, perfect prayer. One we should pray everyday if you ask me. But don’t just repeat it like a mindless drone, think about the words as you say them, reflect on the beauty, let your heart mesh with the Holy Spirit as you declare the words. Declare them, not just say them.

Immediately after Jesus gives the parable of the friend at night, to teach them about how to pray, to continue his answer to their question, about prayer, about seeking God. And prayer is seeking God. Let’s take a look:

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.”

Not because he’s your friend, but because he’s amazed at your shameless audacity, you dared to knock on his door in the middle of the night, wake him up, and I’d probably feel the same way if someone showed up at my house, if Chelsey showed up at my house, and said this person needs, some food, give it to them, I would not be happy, but I would do it, and maybe not just because we’re friends, but because I’m amazed at her audacity.

And similarly, when we persistently knock on God’s door, we can expect this spiritual truth to come true: “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

When you pause in your day, to stop, and pray the Our Father, focused on God, you are seeking god, you are doing this. Seeking, knocking, asking. If you seek, you will find God, if you knock, the door will open to you. God is the one who opens it and lets you in. He answers, and gives you the desires of your heart.

The explanation continues in verses 11-13: “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

This scripture is one reason why I always ask the Holy Spirit to be given to me for the day, each day. And some have rebuked me and said hey we already have the holy Spirit we’re Christians. True enough, but I ask, because this parable encourages me to keep seeking, seeking knocking, and keep asking. And in particular the example is given, ask for the Holy Spirit, and the Father will give Him.

Also, take a look at the Our father, we’re to pray this prayer, over and over. And what does it say, Forgive us our sins. That’s why I make the case for a lifestyle of daily repentance, where we pray at the end of each day, examining our day and our lives, inviting the Holy Spirit to reveal any ways in which we’ve sinned, so we can turn to God, ask his forgiveness, repent, and continue on our journey to paradise. That is a wise thing to do. That’s why it’s part of the Our Father. Same with forgiving those who have sinned against us. Once again, something good to do, if we develop resentments toward someone, Lord, I forgive that person, again, maybe! We’re keeping a watch on ourselves, as we journey to heaven. Because our feet get muddy with sin in this life as we trudge the road home, but we can always turn to Christ, and he graciously washes our feet, as we journey through this life, as he washed the disciples feet. Amazing.

So then, we see, we must be persistent in our journey. We must be persistent in our prayer life. We must be persistent in believing God. We must be persistent as the widow seeking justice from an unjust judge. She knows he’s unjust. Yet she keeps after him day after day. God is challenging us to keep praying to Him everyday. And to keep believing God will answer. It’s the same with the friend at night. God is challenging us to keep calling on His name, keep believing in him, and keep Seeking him in our daily lives. Because God will certainly answer and respond and be amazed at our audacity to keep coming to Him. God desires that of us.

So in conclusion, “An elderly lady was once asked by a young man who had grown weary in the fight, whether he ought to give up the struggle. "I am beaten every time," he said dolefully. "I feel I must give up." "Did you ever notice," she replied, smiling into the troubled face before her, "that when the Lord told the discouraged fishermen to cast their nets again, it was right in the same old spot where they had been fishing all night and had caught nothing?" -Source Unknown.

Twice Jesus told Peter to cast his nets to the side, after nights of catching nothing, the first time when he first met Peter, and Peter caught more fish than the boat could carry. A second time, Peter had seen Jesus crucified, and seen him appear alive, and vanish again, and Peter had gone out fishing through the night, but caught nothing. But then Jesus came to the water’s edge and told him to cast out again on the side. And Peter caught 153 fish that day.

We often persistently seek God, and pray for our desires, and pray for the lost and hurting. And many times we see little results, even for years and years. And we start to get discouraged. We start to lose our persistence, and think well, I’ll just stop praying.

My grandma Monica in fact told me, she had prayed for me my whole life, 27 years. But one day, she was so frustrated with my constant destructive actions she thought I’m not going to pray for Him anymore. I’m just not. And as she contemplated this, she got the phone call that I was sober, and had found Jesus, and had become a Christian. And she was amazed.

When Jesus heard about his dear friend Lazarus being sick the first thing he did was stay where he was for four days. And when he came it seemed like it was too late. He had been dead for a while now. The sisters were mourning. A crowd had gathered to mourn. Jesus asked Mary if she still believed. She said she did believe that even now Lazarus could be ok. Jesus told them to roll away the stone. They said no, it’s too late, it smells bad in there, he’s rotted away. It’s too late, have you though the same thing? But they obeyed and rolled the stone away. And Lazarus came out, and he was alive, wrapped in grave clothes.

Are your hopes and dreams and prayers dead, and wrapped in grave clothes? Have you covered them over with the stone that covers the entrance to the tomb? I’ve often repeated to myself about certain things, well, it’s just too late now. But, even when we’ve given up, wrapped out dreams in grave clothes, and sealed the tomb with a giant stone, if we will believe, and respond in obedience to God, when he commands us, roll the stone away, or throw your nets on the right side, or keep seeking justice from the judge, or keep knocking on your friends door at night, then we will see a victory that we thought was impossible. If it’s God’s will, we will see the impossible become inevitable.

Isn’t that amazing? So keep praying. Be persistent. Never give up. Keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking, and you will find, the door will open, and you will receive what you’ve asked for, in His will.

In our walks with Jesus, we must be persistent, and never give up. Keep walking with Him. Good times and bad times. I’m all in for Jesus. Easy to say, harder to do, right? I’ve seen many people who claimed to love Jesus, but after a few months, or a year, or a few years, or even ten years, they turn back, and go back to the world and the ways of the world. Don’t let that be you. Commit your life to Jesus. Be persistent, stay through to the very end. Amen.