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Jesus & Justice | Give Me Justice
February 6, 2022
1And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Luke’s introduction to Jesus’ parable in v.1 is telling. He says Jesus told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart, which means that Jesus knows that it is difficult to pray and it’s easy to lose heart. Whether we look at the state of our own lives or look out into the world, it appears that injustice, division and oppression prevail in every place and pervade every circumstance. It can be easy to lose heart, and when discouragement sets in, prayer seems ineffective and useless. But Jesus calls us to take heart and pray because our God is the one who has promised and secured for us the justice we long for and the justice our world needs. The parable of the persistent widow, as this passage is commonly known, could also be called the parable of the Just God. God promises justice in and through his son Jesus, so don’t lose heart!
To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst
To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships
To participate in God’s mission to the world
Holy God, we gather to declare your praise and hear your word. Speak to us now, that we may be wise enough to perceive your call. Strengthen us now, that we may be brave enough to answer when you call. Guide us now, that we may follow where you would have us go. Amen.
Responsive Prayer—Psalm 1:1-6
1Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
4The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
1. The Widow's Problem: Read Psalm 82:3-4: "3Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. 4Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
The writers of the Old Testament speak of protecting the rights of widows, orphans, sojourners, and the poor. The widow comes to the judge in the parable and asks/demands that he give her justice against her adversary. She’s asking for her rights. Justice is grounded in the concept of rights.
- How does the Christian notion of human rights differ from a secular understanding of human rights? How are they similar?
- Why does the widow in this parable have the right to demand justice from the judge?
2. The Widow's Persistence
- How does Jesus intend the widow’s persistence to be a model for us in prayer?
- What does it mean to pray persistently?
- Are there times and seasons in your life when you have been like the widow in your prayer life? If you feel comfortable, share what brought you to that place?
- What would it look like for our Community Group to pray like this widow for justice?
- Why is it oftentimes easier to work for justice than to pray for justice?
- What keeps us from praying like this widow?
3. The Widow's Promise
- How is God like the judge in this passage? How is he different?
- What understanding of God are we to have if we, like the persistent widow, are to bring our prayers to God?
- How does Jesus, as the one who brings justice and suffers injustice on our behalf, equip us to live in a world of injustice and work for justice without losing heart?
Aware of the presence of God, our creator, who made us in his image; aware of the grace of Christ, our redeemer, who calls us blessed; aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit, who guides our lives—go out in truth; go out in wisdom; go out in love: to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly in the presence of God.
View Study Guide Notes
Question 1: Every human being, because we are made in the image of God, has the right to be treated according to his or her inherent worth. Oftentimes, a secular notion of rights has to do with an individual's capacity or ability, but this leads to gross injustice. When a secular understanding of rights does include protecting the poor and vulnerable, it is borrowing from the Christianity understanding of human beings and rights (often unintentionally). Only a Chrisitian understanding of being made in the image of God allows us to cry out for justice among the poor and oppressed. Any other understanding of humanity, based on ability or capacity, leads to ‘a survival of the fittest’ and does not take into account the poor and the vulnerable.
Question 2: Praying persistently like the widow in this parable necessitates an understanding of a God who loves justice, hears our prayers, and responds to our prayers. But that’s the next point. Here, Jesus simply invites us to bring our needs and cries to him, and to in some sense “bother” him with our prayers. Don’t lose sight of this picture of this widow in the parable badgering this judge until she receives justice. There is an invitation to us here to constantly and continually bring our cries for justice to God, who is the lover and bringer of justice.
Question 3: God is like the judge in this passage in that he has the power to bring justice. This is why we ought to pray and cry out for justice in our world. Yet, he is unlike the judge in that while the judge is reluctant to bring justice to the widow, we see that God loves justice, and he is justice in the flesh—in Jesus. This passage is Jesus saying, “how much more…” should we have confidence in God to hear our cries, because he is so much more generous, loving, and powerful than this judge. And ultimately he will bring justice to the world and use our feeble prayers efforts to bring it about, even if he has to fix it up for us. (see Jason’s concluding Rembrandt illustration).