Scripture: Luke 18:1-8
Key verse: (8) “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Reflection: Justice is one of God’s favorite words in the Bible. According to one word search, “justice” appears 1,576 times in the Old and New Testament in 1,379 separate verses. By contrast, “love” appears a total of 538 times in the Bible, which is still a considerable amount, but “justice” occurs almost three times as much. What does the Bible mean by “justice?”
In the world, justice often means people get what they deserve. My theology professor, Shirley Guthrie, said that Biblical justice is about people getting what they need. The Apostle James writes, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). Proverbs puts it this way, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern” (Prov. 29:7).
Within this biblical understanding of justice, Jesus tells his disciples a parable about an unjust judge and a widow, who represents the poor. It’s a strange parable that leaves the reader wondering, “Who is this about? Is Jesus comparing God to the unjust judge? But he says he has ‘no fear of God and no respect for people.’ He surely isn’t a metaphor for God.” Recent scholarship suggests we should pay attention to who Jesus tells this parable to—his disciples, as opposed to the crowds. Further, it is told within the context of an apocalyptic prediction, concluding, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Perhaps Jesus is the persistent widow calling on the world to grant justice. Perhaps Jesus is one knocking on the door night and day calling us to do what is right. Perhaps this is Luke’s version of Matthew’s, “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.” (Mt. 25) Perhaps Jesus is saying, “When the Son of Man comes knocking, will he find justice?”
What does it mean to be a disciple of such a persistent widow?
Prayer: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, that I might see you in this world today. Open the door of my heart to work for the justice you will. When you come knocking, may you find faith. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].