Pentecost 19 2022
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
October 16, 2022
Gen. 32:22-30, 2 Tim. 3:14-4:5, Luke 18:1-8


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Being persistent can really pay off. The salesman ignores your first four objections and presses on to close the deal.  Children wear down Mom and Dad until they finally relent and give in. Many dogs and cats owe their cushy lives to the persistence of children.  Children get worn down by persistent parents and finally do their homework or cleantheir room. Persistence can get you what you want.

It is still dark outside when the widow gets up, lights a lamp and gets ready to make her way through the early morning streets to the courts to be first in line to see the judge. She is in a long standing dispute but as a widow she has no protection, no influence, no one to speak up for her and no money for a lawyer.  All she can do is to beg the judge to rule in her favor.

She¬†has¬†come¬†here¬†many,¬†many¬†times¬†before.Time¬†after¬†time¬†she gets up¬†early to be first in line so she can speak to the judge.¬†And every time, the judge refuses to rule in her favor and sends her away. ¬†The¬†judgeis¬†his¬†own¬†man;¬†he¬†does¬†what¬†he¬†wants.¬†He does not care who¬†he¬†hurts,or¬†whether it is right or wrong.¬†He does not fear God or respect men.¬† That morning he takes his seat in court and looks up and groans.¬†There at the front of the line is that bothersome widow -- again.¬† She is again standing there waiting to be heard.¬†He has heard it all before and he doesn‚Äôt want to have to hear it all again.He‚Äôs had enough, and so when the widow comes forward he says, ‚ÄúOkay, okay, I give up.¬†I can‚Äôt take it anymore.¬†I rule in your favor.¬†Go now and leave me alone.‚Ä̬†Even though he doesn‚Äôt fear God or¬†respectmen¬†he¬†gives¬†in so that¬†the¬†widow¬†will¬†causehim¬†no¬†more¬†trouble.¬†

So, what does this parable mean? When we want something from God should we just be persistent and we will receive it? It would be easy to take this lesson and say that you need to be persistent in your prayers and if you continue in persistent prayerGod will eventually give in and grant you your request.

Lord, grant me a big raise. Lord, grant me a promotion at work. Lord, give me a biggerhouse, a bigger television, a bigger car. Lord, give me an A on this test I didn’t study for. Lord, please have this girl like me. Lord, give me the newest, latest, greatest iPhone.

There are many popular churches where this is the main message.  If you are faithful and pray the right prayers God will open up the storehouse of blessings and pour them out on you.  They teach that the reason you do not have big things is that you don’t prayer for big things.  They teach that your faith activates the power of God. 

Those who reject God altogether also believe basically the same thing.  In the book The Secret,The author, Rhonda Byrne, teaches that there is a law of attraction and your thoughts become things. By visualizing something you canput in an order with the powersof the universe and the universe will deliver. You don’t even need to pray to God, you can just picture what you want and it will be provided.

Is this what the parable is about? Is it teachingyou to be persistent in asking for stuff from God and if you are persistent, God will deliver?Let’s take a closer look.  What does this widow want? Does this widow want money or belongings? Does she want power or privilege?  No, she wants vindication against her opponent.  She wants justice.She wants things to be right. She is not asking for stuff, she is asking for justice.

So, pray for justice.  Pray for vindication over your adversaries.  Pray for an end to sin and evil.  Pray for the devil and his angels to be destroyed forever because they bring so much trouble and heartache into the world.

The evening news can feel like a report on the workings of the devil; wars and violence; threats to use nuclear weapons. A madman killing little children at a daycare center in Thailand.  Serial killers on the loose.  There are huge, violent, criminal organizations flooding our cities and towns with drugs.  And if that wasn’t bad enough sometimes the drugs are laced with fatal doses of fentanyl.  We watch coverage of trials where whole families were slaughtered.  We hear about children being abused in unspeakable ways by adults in positions of trust.  We hear about sin and perversion being promoted and encouraged.  We see the anger of people protesting that they cannot end the life of their unborn children without restriction.  We can see the devil’s work watching the evening news.  Pray for restoration.  Pray for justice.  Pray for evil to be overcome by good.  

So, pray for justice.  Pray for vindication over your adversaries.  Pray for an end to sin and evil.  Pray for the devil and his angels to be destroyed forever because they bring so much trouble and heartache into the world.

We can see the devil’s work amongst our family and friends.  We see alcoholism and drug abuse devastating families. There is anger and conflict and infidelity between husbands and wives. Two people who have pledged to love one another forever instead live in resentment and bitterness and betrayal. Far too often we hear about yet another family devastated by divorce as the devil works his evil; tearing people apart.  Pray for healing.  Pray for peace.  Pray for justice. 

          The devil hates Christianity.  Around the world Christians are being persecuted because they are followers of Jesus.  On a recent Sunday morning 25 Hindu extremists entered Pastor Arjun’s church in India and beat him for an hour leaving him hospitalized.  When the pastor’s landlord heard about the beating he evicted the pastor and his family leaving them homeless.  In Afghanistan, Christians are being hunted down and killed. The Church there is now completely underground.  There is open persecution in North Korea, Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, Pakistan and so many other countries around the world.  The world is hurting.  Pray for freedom. Pray for righteousness. 

In your life you face illness and injury;pain and disability. People you love are taken from you in death and there is so much sadness and mourning.  Pray for comfort. 

Life is hard and you struggle to resist great pressure to conform to the pattern of the world. You struggle against the constant messageto give in to the ways of the world and reject Jesus as your Lord and become lord of your own life. There is tremendous pressure to stop struggling and just give in to your everydesire and find true peace and happiness in self- indulgence and self-centeredness.  The struggle is real and too often you give in to this pressure to conform and you indulge your desires in ways contrary to God’s will. But you do not find peace and happiness.  Instead, you are left feeling empty and agitated.  And the world tries to tell you that you just need more of what has left you empty.  Repent of your failures.  Confess your sins.  Receive Jesus’ forgiveness.  Pray for righteousness.

There is so much trouble and heartache in the world; so much sin, so much persecution, so much death, so much influence of the devil. When will it end? When will enoughbe enough? When will Christians get the reward promised by God? When will God give justice by eliminating evil in the world? Why does God even allow evil?  How long, O Lord? How long will the devil be allowed to continue to prowl like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Come, Lord Jesus! Come now!

            Come, Lord Jesus! Come back and bring justice. End all of the trouble and heartache and violence and death.   Come, Lord Jesus!Bring justice for your people.As a Christian you recognize that you are a poor, miserable sinner; weak and powerless. Like the powerless widow coming to the judge, you come before God without any resources and plead for mercy and justice.

            Jesus has promised to return.  He has promised to bring justice.Matthew 5:6 (ESV) 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Be persistent. Be patient.  Jesus ascended into heaven 2,000 years ago and you can get discouraged, you can lose heart.  You can start to think that Jesus is never coming back.  But He will.  So pray and do not lose heart. 

God has promised to conquer evil and lift up those made righteous by Jesus Christ.  This is why you gather togethereach Sunday morningto confess your sins and hear the words of forgiveness and to cry out to God for mercy.

In one of the communion liturgies, I proclaim.¬†‚ÄúAs often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord‚Äôs death until¬†He¬†comes.‚Ä̬†And¬†you¬†cry¬†out,¬†‚ÄúAmen,¬†Come¬†Lord¬†Jesus.‚Ä̬†You¬†pray¬†‚ÄúThy¬†kingdom¬†come.‚ÄĚYou gather together to eat and drink the body and blood of Jesus Christ given and shed for you for the forgiveness¬†of¬†sins.¬†You¬†receivethe¬†forgiveness¬†won¬†for¬†you¬†by¬†Jesus‚Äô¬†suffering¬†and death on the cross.¬† You receive a foretaste of the feast to come.¬† You are made right with God as you look for Jesus to return and the whole world to be restored.¬†

Pray you remain safe in the ark of the Christian Church; pray you remain awake and faithful until the day of the Lord’s return so that He will find faith on earth. Get up out of bed on Sunday morning and come before the judge and plead for justice and righteousness to come to you and to the world. Do it week after week after week. Be persistent. Don’t give up.  Continue to gather togetheras a family around the gifts of the Lord. Rememberwho you are. You are a baptizedchild of God, redeemed by the blood of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Cry out for justice. Cry out for rescue from this veil of tears. Cry out for Jesus to return to judge and destroyevil. Be tireless. Continue to cry out for your need for Jesus to come back. Stay faithful, stay together, remain in Jesus. Be persistent.  Pray and do not lose heart.