In Luke 18, as Jesus teaches on prayer, He uses an interesting metaphor. In fact, it is an objectionable metaphor. A widow in his story comes before the judge. This is irregular, since, in that day only men had standing in the court. A wife accessed the court through her husband, and an unmarried woman had access through her father. A widow had no standing, no right to legal access.
That is what makes this story so exceptional. An adversary drives this widow to a state of desperation! She dares to violate judicial protocol. She forces herself on the court. She succeeds in getting a hearing before the judge, but all in vain, it appears for this judge, is not fair-minded. He is corrupt, wicked and just. His rulings are not reflective of justice, based on the law. They are jaded, not rationally fair. We are not told the nature of the adversary or even if he has legal standing against her. Maybe it was a matter of debt. Perhaps she was about to lose her freedom and become a debtor slave. The passage seems to indicate persistent pressure from the unnamed antagonist. For this reason, she comes repeatedly to the courtroom. Incredibly, she does not ask for grace or mercy, merely for justice. This is like prayer! It is the persistent appeal in heaven’s court, before the Judge of the Universe, for relief from the oppression and harassment of our adversary, the Evil One.
We are at times the victims of his theft – of the tangible and intangible. Of his death threats and destruction. How do you deal with the adversarial aggression of the Evil One, the Devil? Prayer! That is, you appeal to heaven, as if you are in a courtroom. You ask for justice from heaven, when none is available here. The earthly court and the corrupt judge are not moved by the widow’s plea, nor are they by ours. But, the widow is persistent. She is relentless. She will not be denied. Undaunted, she returns again and again, as we should. Finally, the judge, out of his own exasperation, because of her ‘continual coming’ rules in her behalf. Jesus comments, “Shall not God all the more perform vindication for his Elect, who cry to him by day and by night” (Luke 18:7 Aramaic Bible in Plain English). If a widow, with no legal standing, could persuade by her persistent request, a hard-hearted earthly judge, how much more will our prayer move an almighty God to act in our behalf.
Jesus uses this example to urge us to pray – not for justice at the hands of the corrupt world in which we live, but for justice from heaven’s courtroom. From the Judge of the earth, prayer is the means by which we graciously and unyieldingly plea for heavenly intervention. “I, the LORD, love justice” (Isa. 61:8). The Proverbs say, “It is a joy for the just to do justice” (Proverbs 21:15). We are the bride of Christ. We know that we are not a widow! Jesus is not dead. The cross did not finish Him. He is alive.