22nd Sunday after Pentecost 2016 – Parable of the Persistent Widow

Bible Text: Luke 18:1-8



Once my brother and I were in middle school,

Our mom would sometimes let us stay home while she went to the grocery store,

With once simple task.

Since we were eating our family out of house and home,

The least we could do was clean our plates.


So as soon as she left, we would run the dishwater extra hot and soapy,

and leave the plates in there to soak.


And then…we’d watch TV; or play games; or bicker; or find some trouble –

Anything but what we’d been asked.


After a while, one of us would post-up at the window to watch and see when her car would turn the corner and onto our street.


And when it did he or I would sound the alarm, and off we’d go.

Frantically cleaning.

Frantically washing.

But never quite getting the job done.

It’s almost as if we loved testing her.


Mom expected to come home and find clean dishes.

What she did find was the two of us looking busy, but having done nothing.


What’s ironic is that we knew she was coming home with a trunk full of blessings –

In our case, breakfast cereal, lunchmeat, and stuff to make pizzas.


We knew she’d be coming home to do what moms do:

To love us, to care for us, and feed us.

And yet we acted as if she wasn’t going to come home at all.

And if she did, well, she probably didn’t mean what she said before she left.


Maybe mom should have phrased things more seriously, and in the third person.

“When your Mother comes home, will she find dishes clean?


I venture to guess that we would have said, “yes.”

What else could we say?



Only if you get ice cream?


We would have said yes.


It’s not unlike the Church’s situation.

As we, God’s own beloved children, wait for Jesus’ return for judgment,

He asks us very simply and squarely, what He’s going to find.


“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”


Before you answer, remember this:

It is absolutely true that faith is belief and trust,

But it is not only belief and trust.


Faith, as Luther writes in His commentary on Romans,

Is a mighty, living, busy, and active thing.


Faith, in a very real way, is activity; it is doing; it is commitment –

Faith involves faithfulness.


Now, knowing all of that, hear Jesus’ question again.

“When the Son of Man comes again,” and He will come again,

“will He find faith on earth?”


When Jesus comes back will He find you living faithfully – in mercy and forgiveness?

Will He find you giving faithfully, a real 10% of whatever comes into your hands?

Will He find you behaving faithfully – loving your spouse, your kids, and your neighbor, not just in word, but also in deed?

Will He find you doing faithfully –

all the work he has appointed you in your vocation?

Will He find you busy with the work of His Kingdom,

Or will He just find you busy?


When Jesus comes will He find you praying faithfully?

For His Church, for your pastor, for your friends, and for your enemies.

Will He find you praying that His Kingdom come to us, once and for all?

Or will He find you praying the opposite:

That He delay, and give you just one or two more seasons to fix all of the above?


“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”


When we know what faith is;

When we know what faith involves;

When we look at our lives and find unfaith;

When we see who we really are;

Then it is very easy to give up, to stop praying, and to lose heart.


According to St. Luke, though, Jesus told this parable, so that you wouldn’t.

Jesus told this story so that you would not lose heart,

That you would not stop praying.

To drive the point home, Jesus shows us an unrighteous judge –

Someone who does not fear or love God, and who has no regard for you.


If you are having trouble imagining examples, you haven’t been watching the news.


He says, “Look. The helpless widow pesters this jerk until He gives in.”

He doesn’t care about justice or about her.

But he eventually caves because she won’t leave him alone.


How much more will your Father in heaven answer you?

He will not delay, but give you justice quickly.


Now, when you consider all the unfaithfulness, the greed, the laziness,

And all the sins that you brought here this morning,

You might pause and wonder if God’s justice is really what you should be asking for.


The old widow thought so.

The people hearing Jesus speak these words thought so.

And so should you.


Justice is Jesus, nailed to a tree as a criminal.

Justice is Christ’s Body broken, like His Holy Commandments.

Justice is Jesus’ Blood poured out as a sacrifice for sins.


This is God’s justice. But the righteous judge does not stop there.

Divine justice gives way to mercy.


Mercy is not merely Jesus crucified, but Jesus crucified for you.


Mercy is not only Christ’s Body broken,

But Christ’s Body risen and glorified,

Given and received, set onto your tongue for the forgiveness of sins.


Mercy is Jesus Blood poured out, not only on cavalry,

but into the chalice here at His most Holy and precious Eucharist.


He who loves you, and who has made you His own, will keep nothing from you.


Looking back, I don’t actually think my mom was a sucker.

She knew her kids; and she knew what to expect.

It may have even been why she always did her grocery shopping on Saturdays.


So that whatever she found when she got home,

Justice and mercy would be quick to follow on Sunday morning.


Jesus will come again, and He will be looking for faith on earth.

In the meantime, you can pray and not lose heart.

What Jesus seeks He also gives.

Faith, Justice, Mercy;

Forgiveness, and freedom

Here at font, pulpit, and altar.


About Pastor Hopkins