Wednesday, December 19, 2012



Here in Luke 18 Jesus begins three teachings in a row to encourage His disciples to grow in their faith. He begins with the story of the persistent widow.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually come and attack me!'" 

And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I 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 story of the persistent widow was given to make a point. If even a corrupt judge could eventually be persuaded by the persistence of a widow, someone without standing or influence in society, how much more likely would the Lord be to respond to the persistent prayers of His followers?

Since Jesus is going to have to suffer and die before returning, things are likely to become very confusing. Therefore, it's very important for the disciples to be faithful in prayer to be ready. This is why Jesus ends this section with a question: "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
For all of us today who are disciples of Jesus, He is teaching us to practice the habit of prayer that is characterized by persistence. Jesus is recorded teaching a similar concept in the gospel of Matthew: Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; Seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who keep on asking him! (Matthew 7:7-11)
In both cases the lesson is the same. If even those who are evil can be moved by persistence, how much more so will the Lord be moved? NOTE how the Lord longs for our participation in His plan. His return is already set in motion-a foregone conclusion. The decision was made before the foundations of the world were set in place. Yet He encourages us to keep praying for it, and to never give up till the day it happens. It's almost as if He's saying our prayers could influence the timing.

Whether or not that is true, it's all a matter of single-mindedness and focus. Did you know that two-thirds of the prayers mentioned in the Bible, the prayers already knew the answer? So, it's not that the purpose of our prayers is necessarily to change anything. The reason why we pray is a proactive act of dependency on the Lord. Prayer brings a spiritual focus to your everyday life. It's one of the disciplines we can use to practice the presence of God in our lives every day.

You see, prayer may or may not change things, but it always, always, always will change you.



Jesus moves from the coming of the kingdom to the coming of the Son of Man. When you think about it, both are referring to the same event.

Then he said to his disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 

"Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. "It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

"It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot's wife!

Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left." "Where, Lord?" they asked. He replied, "Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather."

Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man. There were two basic meanings to that term. First-it was a Messianic term that most at that time would have been familiar with. Second-it was the term used to describe the humanity of Jesus.
Here Jesus speaks of the "day" or "days" of the Son of Man five times. The "day" that the Son of Man is revealed seems to be the same day on which destruction comes, the day when one is taken and another left. A lot seems to be happening in a very short period of time-almost cataclysmic in nature. It reminds me of how quickly the world changed within just a couple of hours on 9/11.

Whatever else is happening here Jesus uses two historical events to describe the time of the coming of the Son of Man-the time of the flood of Noah and the time of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Two things are indicated through these events: First-People are going about their normal lives as if nothing was going to happen. Second-there will be a day of judgment and destruction from God which will occur suddenly. The coming of the Son of Man will be at such a time as this.

This is the passage among a few others where the Left Behind book series is based. Some are taken and others are left behind whether in bed or in the field. There is a lot of disagreement over when the Son of Man, the Messiah, will come again and bring about the "some are taken and others left behind" scene. It's clear to me that there is no way to know precisely when the Son of Man will return. Only God knows that timing.

Those who were pressing Him, asked Him further when and where the coming will be. They really wanted to know more detail. Jesus answers them by saying, "Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather." Jesus is saying here that just as the presence of a dead carcass is clear by the circling of vultures, so will the presence of the Son of Man be clear. It will be clear when the Son of Man returns-immediate and very clear.

All my life I've heard people mention that Jesus might be among us already right now and we just haven't noticed His coming yet. Jesus puts a rest to that kind of thinking by saying, "For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation." You won't be caught by surprise, however it will be very clear and very sudden.

I'm reminded of the bumper sticker that says, "Guess who's coming back and boy is he mad!" There's nothing to be afraid of, however. As long as you are walking with Jesus-hanging out with Him today, then you'll be sure to be right with Him when He returns. So, keep up the three habits of walking with Jesus, walking with others and waiting on Him to lead out-or, waiting for Him to show up again. With these habits in gear, you'll be ready!