Luke 18:1-8 1 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 about men. 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 about men, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!'” 6 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?”
Have you ever been in a room full of people where you found yourself unsure of yourself? Did you feel intimidated or like you didn’t belong? Were you hesitant to ask a question about what was being discussed because you just weren’t sure you would even be asking the right question? Did you feel UNWORTHY in the moment to make your question or request known?
I remember when I joined the Rotary Club and started attending meetings. I was sitting among very accomplished business professionals who were well-respected in the community. I remember thinking to myself, “What can I really contribute to this organization? I am JUST a preacher.” I did have questions, but I didn’t ask them. I did have requests of the organization, but I didn’t make them; not for a long time. A sense of unworthiness kept me from asking for the help for our church while others were asking for help for their businesses and their community projects. I want you to remember that word, “unworthy.” Will you say it with me? (unworthy)
The woman in our story likely dealt with feelings of unworthiness. Being female she didn’t have much standing before the law. At the time during which Jesus told this story, women didn’t go to court. They didn’t plead their case. They didn’t have a hearing with a judge. The judge in the story refused to listen to the woman’s plea for help time after time. She wasn’t worthy of a judgment, worthy of an answer, worthy of his time.
However, tucked inside this parable about persisting in prayer, we see a beautiful truth that flows from our relationship with Jesus who is the Righteous Judge. Here it is: We have been made worthy by His blood.
First, we are no longer unworthy to stand in God’s presence. Hebrews 4:16 tells us we can go to God’s throne in prayer boldly and with great confidence. The Blood of the Lamb has qualified us. We can stand in God’s presence and be confident that we belong there and that our request is important to Him. He will not resist us. He will welcome us before Him. We are not out of place in God’s presence because the Blood of Jesus has put us in our rightful place with God. We can be sure that when we go to the Lord seeking mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16) we will find the help we need at just the right time. He wants us to come. He has made a way for us to come. We don’t need to be shy about coming into His presence. We are not out of place when we are on our face before our Heavenly Father in prayer. Doesn’t that give you a sense of security?
Remember how I was in those early Rotary meetings? I was afraid to ask a question for fear of being judged or labeled. Jesus said in John 14:13, “Ask whatever you will in my name, and I will do it.” There are no dumb questions at the throne of grace. Jesus has made us worthy to take every issue to God in prayer.
Do you feel like an outsider this morning? Do you feel like you don’t really belong or aren’t worthy to ask anything of the Lord? Jude 1:24 tells us through the blood of Jesus we stand blameless and worthy in the presence of God and with great joy. You are worthy in the place of prayer to get close to your Heavenly father. Jesus has made you good enough. For when God sees you, He doesn’t see your inconsistencies and your imperfections, He sees the perfection of Jesus Christ, His Son. Oh, the amazing grace of God that not only forgives us of our sin, but also welcomes us into His presence without restriction.
Have you ever had the experience where you felt as if some great responsibility was all on your shoulders? If the company was going to succeed, you had to make it happen. If the bill was going to be paid, you had to find a way. If the kids were going to keep up with their commitments and activities, you were going to have to get them where they needed to be and remind them to have everything prepared in order to take what was needed with them. Have you been the one for whom failure just wasn’t an option. You couldn’t hand off the baton. You couldn’t take a break. You had to do whatever it took all by yourself to accomplish something?
As most of you know, my father just passed away March 3rd. For the last four and a half years of his life, I was his primary support as he was in the nursing home behind TV Hospital. I confess I dealt with some feelings of aloneness during those four and a half years.
I met with his care team there. I made regular visits to see him. I received the phone calls from the nursing home whenever his condition would change. I answered medical questions and made decisions about his care. I went to doctor appointments with him. I purchased what he needed. I paid his bills. I read Scripture to him. I was with him when he spent times in the hospital. I made sure he was as comfortable as possible. I was the one to get the call that on March 3rd that he went home to be with the Lord. It was a lot especially because I felt ALONE at times during the process. I want you to remember that word. Will you say it with me? (alone)
Have you walked a lonely road before where you felt alone (even if there were some others from time to time to help along the way as there were in my journey with my dad. Have you been there when the weight of the burden was on your shoulders and you felt very alone?) Alone in the decision making. Alone in the work. Alone in the parenting. Alone in the relationship. Alone in the care taking. Alone in your grief. Alone in the project. No one to help. No one to encourage. No one to support. I want you to remember that word, “alone.” Will you say it with me? (alone)
A second beautiful truth that flows from our relationship with Jesus the Righteous Judge is that we are never alone.
We get the sense from the story about the persistent widow that she was alone. No one went with her to the court to try to gain an audience with the judge. Being a widow woman she had no husband to speak on her behalf. She either hadn’t had children or wasn’t in a relationship with her children or they didn’t live close enough to help her. No one volunteered to help her by going with her. She was alone in her quest for justice.
Someone was messing with her. Someone was bothering her. Someone was making her life miserable, and she needed help to get away from the situation. There is an air of desperation to her efforts. She is threatened by what is happening to her, but she is alone. No one is corroborating her story. No one is standing as a witness to her suffering.
Listen, you may feel alone in your circumstance this morning, but I have good news for you. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of your life, you are never alone. Hebrews 13:5 tells us we are never alone. Jesus will never leave us.
When we pray we have an Advocate, Jesus our Savior (I John 2:1). He goes into the Courtroom of God with us. He understands what we are going through. He will vouch for us before the Heavenly Father. He constantly represents us before the throne of God as He is praying with us and for us! (Romans 8:34)
In John 14:18 Jesus promised His disciples He would not leave them as orphans. He would send His Holy Spirit to live in them, to do life with them, and even to pray with them. (Romans 8:26)
Throughout my journey of caring for my dad, I turned to my Heavenly Father a lot. When I didn’t know what decision to make, when I felt overwhelmed, when I was discouraged or sad to watch my dad’s quality of life ebbing away, I could talk to the Lord and know that He was with me on that journey. I wasn’t alone, and as I shared my need for wisdom, for compassion, and for strength with God, He supplied it to me.
Unworthy. Alone. How about this word? “INSUFFICIENT.” You can put it in front of a lot of other words. Insufficient knowledge. Insufficient training. Insufficient talent. Insufficient funds. Insufficient resources. Can you relate? You know you don’t have what it takes. You know your need is greater than your supply. I know the feeling. God has most definitely blessed our church. Eight years ago my husband and I came to TVCOG to a group of about 100 people. Eight years later we are a worshiping congregation of about 450 people who meet in two services in a building that can really no longer meet our needs even with the two services.
We are blessed to own 74 acres of property. The plan is to build a facility that will allow us to host up to 1200 people. Including the phase we are working to pay off, the total cost of the project is over 4 million dollars. What in the world? I don’t have that kind of money. I don’t have a “rich uncle”. I don’t know how to raise that kind of money. Something has to happen, and it needs to happen in the next couple of years to enable us to continue to grow because not growing is NOT an option. Ceasing to grow is definitely not God’s plan. Yet this minute we don’t have the money, and I don’t know from where it will come.
Can anyone relate to what I am describing? I want you to remember that word, “insufficient.” Will you say it with me?
Back in the day, if you had the means, you could buy “justice.” A bribe would get you a long way in a court of law. But she didn’t have money. Widows didn’t have money. She had insufficient funds to make her trouble disappear. In our own strength we are insufficient. In our own power, we are insufficient. A third beautiful truth that flows from our relationship with Jesus the Righteous Judge is that in Him we are completely sufficient.
When we take our insufficiency to God and allow Him to infuse His Word and His power into our circumstance we have everything we need to endure a circumstance or to experience a change in that circumstance. We take our weakness to Him, and He gives us strength. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, (Philippians 4:13) and the infusion of strength comes as we trust God in prayer. II Corinthians 12:9 tells us God’s grace is sufficient when we are insufficient. Those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10).
The Apostle Paul prayed three times for God to take something from him. He doesn’t tell us what it was. I don’t know if he was living with pain or dealing with temptation or some kind of addictive pursuit, but he wanted it out of his life. He didn’t get what he prayed for, but he received the sufficient grace of God in order to deal with his circumstance in II Corinthians 12:9.
God will give us what we need to accomplish the mission He has given to us. We just have to stay connected to Him. He is the Vine (John 15) and we are the branches. He will give us sustaining grace as we trust Him, and when the time is right, He will bless us with the resources, and I believe the funds will be more than enough. If you don’t know Him this morning, He is what you are lacking. He has what you need, and has resources you haven’t even thought to ask for yet!
Unworthy. Alone. Insufficient. We have probably all had times in our lives when we have experienced each one of those feelings. The woman in our Scripture passage, however, likely dealt with all three as she sought justice and freedom from her adversary.
Unworthy. Alone. Insufficient. Jesus tells His listeners the story is about prayer. It is really about persevering during prayer, right? When we pray and we don’t give up, breakthroughs come. Justice is dispensed. The Righteous Judge delivers an answer. He is the One to whom we should go in prayer.
Persevering in prayer, yes, that was Jesus’ main point. But three underlying truths are also seen. For this story we can be reminded we are made worthy by the Blood of the Lamb. In this story we can be reminded that we never walk through this life alone. In this story we can be reminded that God’s resources are more than sufficient. Persevering in prayer has more benefits than just receiving justice. When we do, we exercise our awareness of:
Who we are in Christ-WORTHY
Who we are with Christ-NEVER ALONE
Who Christ is in us-ALL-SUFFICIENT