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Video of the Divine Service here.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
A lot of people are talking about justice. Social justice, racial justice, climate justice. No matter on which side of the political wall you fall, whatever you think the government should do about this or that, or what you think we should do about this or that, I think we can all agree that things are not the way they should be. People might—people probably—disagree on that “should be.” For Christians, that “should be” is defined by God’s own creation, what He made, what He wills, what He commands. And we look around and we see that things are not the way they should be. Things are not as God created them; people are not as God created them. There is injustice in the world, and people act unjustly. In the face of that, people cry out for justice.
Jesus tells a parable about a woman who is crying out for justice. And the only one to whom she can cry out is an unjust judge. But she cries out for justice again and again and again: give me justice against my adversary. Jesus doesn’t say who her adversary is. He doesn’t say what the issue is. Originally, the adversary is the one who brings a case or an accusation against someone else in court. But this seems to be something more. This adversary is able to continually oppress her, and he stands, as his name suggests, “opposite justice.” So Peter calls the devil our adversary, who prowls around seeking someone to devour.
But she doesn’t have any recourse. She doesn’t have anyone to stand on her behalf because she is a widow. So she just keeps coming before the judge to ask him for justice. The judge doesn’t esteem God and he doesn’t regard people. In other words, he’s not religious and he doesn’t care what the voters think. And he’s not inclined to give this woman justice. Finally, though, he says that he’s had enough of her requests and he’s going to give her justice. Though I don’t esteem God, he says, and I don’t care what people think, I will give her justice because otherwise she might come and give me a black eye. I don’t know if the black eye is figurative or literal, but either way he’s tired of this widow badgering him. So he gives her justice.
Luke says that Jesus told this parable so that we would always pray and never give up, never lose heart, never become discouraged. Even when it appears that no one hears us, when we have no one to stand up next to us, when the judge appears to turn a deaf ear to us—even then, we should continue to pray out of trust in the one to whom we pray. Nevertheless, Jesus says, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?
In what does this faith consist? Let’s give it some content. It is trusting Jesus to do what He said He would do. The lack of faith is shown in giving up prayer—giving up altogether. We look around at all the injustice in the world, at the injustice done, perhaps, by those who have been entrusted with justice, and we might be tempted to become discouraged and give up.
But we do not put our faith in people, in governments, in leaders or rulers. And we do not pray to an unjust judge. Even so, Jesus says, listen to what the unjust judge says. Listen to what the unjust judge says. He will give justice because he’s been badgered to death. The widow refuses to give up, even though the one to whom she is appealing doesn’t care. But, all the more, listen to what our judge says. Our judge is not unjust. You do not have to badger Him to get Him to act. He is our heavenly Father. He does what is right. He acts justly. He acts in righteousness. Will not the judge of all the earth do what is just (Genesis 18:25)? And He will do exactly what He has promised and bring justice for His chosen ones, for you.
He will not delay, Jesus says, but it often does not appear that way to us. But consider how long God appeared to delay in sending His Messiah. Consider the thousands of years that Israel cried out to God for their final redemption and salvation. And God did not delay, but His time was His own. In the fullness of time—God’s time, which He created—in the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son. And what did people do? Even those who cry out for justice, what did they do when the Justice of God appeared on the earth? Some may have ignored Him. Some tried to co-opt Him for their own causes. And then they crucified Him. That is what happens to the Justice of God in this world.
This world is worse than we thought. It’s so unjust that it unjustly killed the Justice of God in the flesh. The injustice of people and the justice of God. The unrighteousness of people and the righteousness of God, displayed there in His body on the cross. But the Justice of God is not dead. He lives forever, and therefore God’s Justice will be done. He will act for those whom He has chosen in Christ, for you. He is not slow in keeping His promises, as some—as we—understand slowness. He will do what He promised to do.
Will the Son of Man find faith on the earth when He comes? Today He is working to keep you in that faith, even when everything around us looks as if injustice will have the last word. Today, the Risen Lord gives you the seal and guarantee of His justice in His own living Body and Blood. Keep praying, keep crying out to the Father through His Son. The faith He has given us on the earth is to keep crying out to our Father in heaven, until the Son of Man comes and it is on earth as it is in heaven. Then we will see the Justice Jesus has done, for us in our risen bodies, and for this whole creation, as He makes it right again.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV). Amen.
— Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 10/18/19