Day 1 of 7

Prophetic Presence


Luke 18:1-8

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.2He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.3And 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,5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ”

6And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?8I 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?”

Pray:

Lord, amid being heckled, persecuted, and rejected by the world, reassure us that we are walking in your ways. Affirm us as we seek to live set apart for you, as co-laborers with Christ, striving to advance your kingdom here on earth.

Reflect:

In this passage, Jesus uses a parable to juxtapose the response of God and unjust judges, regarding the plight of the least of these. Jesus says that unjust judges eventually grant justice, after being relentlessly petitioned, because of their sheer fatigue and not because of their integrity, virtue, or commitment to justice. God, however, sees that these marginalized people get justice “quickly,” because justice is one of the foundational characteristics of who God is.

So then, why should the disciples pray without ceasing? Justo Gonzalez explains that it was because the disciples were living in the difficult days when they longed for both the Son of Man and their open vindication. He writes, “They are like Noah being mocked by his neighbors…The only way to remain firm in such a situation is to pray constantly, and thus to receive vindication from the Lord.” Those who pray, Gonzalez concludes, receive prompt assurance of their vindication.

But what is this parable calling followers of Christ to pray for? This parable is a call to a particular kind of prayer. It is not a generic call for believers to pray for things that we want, or for our blessings and prosperity. This passage calls disciples of Christ to pray without ceasing for the strength, resilience, and spiritual affirmation needed to live as a prophetic presence in a world that does not value the things of God. It summons us to petition the Spirit in prayer for affirmation, of us and our witness, in the midst of a world that ridicules us for distinctively living for God. Gonzalez writes that it is “about being vindicated even at a time when such vindication seems illusory, like Noah and Lot knowing that they were right” even while their neighbors persecuted them for following God’s instructions. John the Baptist, Stephen , and Jesus were all persecuted and killed for their prophetic presence and unyielding witness to the Kingdom of God (Matthew 14; Acts 7:54-60). To live in this manner, where we do not fear the powers that be, “those who kill the body and after that can do no more” (Luke 12:4), requires unrelenting prayer.

Respond:

What is something that you are seeking vindication for? What’s one way that you have recently served as a prophetic presence? What’s one new way that the Spirit may be provoking you to serve as a prophetic presence?