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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Will There Be Faith?

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Luke 18
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' 4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' " 6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

This passage from my perspective rounds out a section on the coming of the kingdom which starts not in 17:20, but 17:11. The story of the ten lepers provides a launching pad for the discussion of the coming of the Son of Man. Ten lepers meet Jesus, all are healed, only one (the Samaritan) returns to Jesus to proffer his thanks, Jesus says, "your faith has healed you."

Next is a retelling of how Jesus once was asked about the coming of the Kingdom. Jesus tells of how it will be like the days of Noah, and the days of Sodom. These are both 'faithless' times. Jesus goes on to stress that even in 'faithless' times the world still turns. People keep doing the daily business of life as if tommorow would be... Yet a day of decision came for God when he wiped out the known world of these peoples.

This passage is followed by the text for this week. The persistant widow. The passage starts out with the subject of the parable: need to pray, and not lose heart. In a world where godlessness reigns like the world's of Sodom and Noah, and also Rome occupied Jerusalem, there is a need for faith. Faith expressed in prayer, and a clinging to the hope that God will answer the call. This is essential to true faith. If one does not persist in prayer, one has lost faith in God that he can do WHAT IS JUST. Luke concludes this mini sermon by putting Jesus question: "Yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

Jesus has given us ample reason to have faith. He implies here his promise that he will answer our prayers eagerly, and yet. ......AND YET! This is the point made in this passage. So many will not recognise Jesus, or will not have faith. Nine out of Ten lepers did not have faith. People at the time of Noah lost faith, to the point where it was only Noah and his family worth saving. Lot and his family were the only ones at he time when Sodom and Gomorrah were annihalated, (and even his wife lost faith). On the day of Jesus coming, people will take that moment and turn their backs on God even then.

Jesus says he is coming to help those who call out to him. One can sense in his final question, a sense of pain. Will there be faith?

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