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Jesus, the Righteous Judge

In ancient society, a widow was one of the most powerless members of society. Without a man to speak for her in the public square, she had no voice and no recourse against injustice. When her husband died, his property passed to the nearest male relative. Apart from family charity, the widow was almost assuredly cast into poverty.

Jesus tells a story about a widow pleading her case before an unjust judge (vv. 1–8). It’s likely that this judge had refused to grant the widow justice in her case because she was too poor to pay the necessary bribe. Because of her persistence, however, he finally ensured that justice was done, and the case was resolved. If even a corrupt, unjust judge would eventually do the right thing, how much more will our perfect Judge, who hears our cry and delivers us.

God’s speedy execution of justice points to the nature of His kingdom. He protects the poor and the powerless. He defends the innocent. Further, the kingdom of God has a wide embrace. God, in His mercy, gathers all kinds of unlikely people to know and serve Him: the tax collector—and all who would openly confess their guilt and seek forgiveness; the child—and all who would willingly submit to God’s authority and depend wholly on Him; the disciples—and all who would forsake earthly wealth for the promise of future inheritance; the blind beggar—and all who would seek the healing of their sight at the touch of Jesus (vv. 14, 17, 29, 42).

But let us not forget that the kingdom of God comes not just to the strangest of people but also in the strangest of ways. It comes by mockery and insult, even death. Jesus is headed to Jerusalem to inherit the kingdom of heaven, but the reward will come with a cross.

Apply the Word

This entire chapter teaches us how to pray. The widow models perseverance. The tax collector models humble confession. The children model tender trust. The disciples model unqualified obedience and self-sacrifice. The beggar models dependence and need. Let us pray as these men and women teach us to pray in this Scripture text.

BY Jennifer Michel

Jen Pollock Michel is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Her first book, Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, is published by InterVarsity Press. Jen earned her BA in French from Wheaton College and her MA in Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and five children, and serves on staff at Grace Toronto Church.

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