When considering the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8), we infer quickly that God is not like the unrighteous judge. Jesus intends for us to come to this conclusion: And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Luke 18:7). In other words, if even this unrighteous judge who neither fears God nor respects man gives people justice, how much more will God – who is holy and righteous and perfectly just – grant justice to his chosen people?
God is not like the unrighteous judge.
But often when this parable is explained, it seems that Christians are left with the impression that we should be like the persistent widow.
Indeed, Jesus does want us to pray – persistently (Luke 18:1), without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17), faithfully (James 5:13-18), and with confidence in the Lord (Eph 3:20-21). But the gospel affords God’s people with a position before our judge that is quite unlike this desperate widow’s position before her own.
Whereas this widow had no legal right to appear before the judge (because women were prohibited from appearing in court in Jewish culture at the time of Jesus), we enter the courtroom of heaven through our union with Christ. Because Jesus has rights to enter into the heavenly places, we do as well! But God…made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:5-6).
Whereas this widow had no one to represent her before the judge, forcing her to nag the judge everywhere she could, Christians have a great high priest in Christ Jesus who stands before God as our legal advocate. He pleads our innocence before God, on the basis of his righteousness credited to us by faith. With Christ as our advocate, there can be no verdict rendered against Christ’s people. This is the point Paul makes in Romans 8. He begins in verse 1: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). But why is this verdict – no condemnation! – secure? Because Christ is our legal advocate before our heavenly judge: Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (Rom 8:34).
Whereas this widow had no confidence that her appeal would be heard by her unrighteous judge, much less that he would give her justice, Christians can approach God with full confidence that he will hear our prayers and respond according to his perfect wisdom and will. We approach him in prayer through the merit and righteousness of Jesus by faith. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith (Hebrews 10:19-20, 22).
Whereas this widow was viewed with scorn and contempt by her judge, Christians are loved, treasured and delighted in by theirs. God does not begrudgingly receive us out of obligation when we pray to him. He receives us joyfully and with love, because he delights over his children. As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (Isa 62:5).
Indeed, our position before our God – and our very access to him – is so much more certain, blessed, and assured because of Christ. Given this access, and our Lord’s delight in us, may we always pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1)!
This article is loosely derived from the message The Persistent Widow, preached at Capitol City Christian Church on 4/7/2019. To hear the entire message, click here.