From where does my help come? From the Righteous Judge
Fourth in a series of Four Sermons
Luke 18:1–8 // 2 Tim 3:14–4:5 // Gen 32:22–30
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our sermon text for today is one answer to the question we’ve been asking for the last four weeks, From where does my help come? It’s a question: “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Dear friends in Christ,
The question we are asking in this sermon series is David’s question, “From where does my help come?” The simplest answer comes from David, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Three weeks ago, we explored the fact that the Lord helps us through the ups and downs of life by sending Michael and all of the angels to watch over and protect us. Two weeks, we explored how the Lord who is the maker of heaven and earth helped Timothy to be strong in his faith through his grandma and his mom and his spiritual father in the faith Paul. Last week, we explored how the Lord who is the maker of heaven and earth helps us through thick and thin through promise keeping.
Today, we explore how the Lord who is the maker of heaven and earth helps us to endure until he delivers his justice.
Our readings are all about enduring. Watch as Jacob wrestles with God and does not lose heart. Through the struggle, God gives his blessing. Listen as Paul urges Timothy to continue, to follow him, to endure as he’s been equipped, as he gives him instructions, his last instructions.
They shout, do not despair, do not lose heart! Or to say it in a German Lutheran way, Be stubborn.
A few years ago, there was a couple that I married, a dear and beautiful lady and her diary farmer fiancé, and in their premarital counseling, I asked them all kinds of questions, two that I’ll give now. “What are the three best qualities of your spouse-to-be?” And second, “What are your top three weaknesses?”
And they talked among themselves and did what most couples do, they hem and they haw and come out with one or two or three of each. I write down what they said. I get done with the session, I ask them to pray for each other and I leave.
After they leave, back in my office, I look at the sheet, and the German Lutheran dairy farmer kind of a guy had crossed out all the weaknesses on his side of the sheet, he had scribbled it all out, and wrote one word: STUBBORN.
That’s an interesting word, isn’t it? To plow on ahead whether people are with you or not. To trust your own senses more than you are swayed by other people.
But look at our text for today. The wicked judge neither feared God nor respected man, and that’s not a compliment. That means he didn’t care about God’s laws, and he didn’t care whether you were right or wrong in a case. When he ruled, he ruled in favor of one person: himself. And if it didn’t gain him anything, he had nothing to do with it.
Enter in the widow. Jesus chooses a widow as the character because the judge had nothing to gain from helping a widow. She had no standing in village to force the judge to rule. The judge did not care about the justice of her case. He had no power to threaten. She had no power to coerce. She had no power to leverage. All she could do is appeal to the judge by God (God says to take care of the widow, well the judge doesn’t fear God), or by men (my cause is just, so give me justice, well, the judge doesn’t respect man). All is hopeless for her.
So all she can do is be persistent. All she can do is be stubborn. Day after day, she comes to the gate of the town where this judge would hold court, and tell him, “Give me justice against my adversary.” And then the story fast-forwards. Ironically, the part that Jesus doesn’t give us is the part with the persistence.
Have you ever been in that place? A place of hopelessness. A place where you are helpless over everything that happens. It’s a hard place to stay in.
It’s the place that the parents of teenagers find themselves when they wonder if they’ve been making mistakes as parents for years. It’s the place that a church can find itself in when it realizes it may have to close its doors. It’s the place that we can all find ourselves in, in different chapters of life, buffeted by everything that Satan would through at us again and again and again.
So today, I would invite you to be stubborn, but to be stubborn about the right things. Don’t be stubborn about having your own way, but stubborn to confess your sins without reservation. Don’t be stubborn to remember someone else’s faults but stubborn to forgive them again and again. Don’t be stubborn to look at the hopelessness and despair all around you, be stubborn instead to remember that the Lord of Heaven and Earth is your help, the God of Jacob is your fortress, and he is coming in his time to deliver justice with speed.
So the question is, why? Why be stubborn? Why persist in prayer?
Because our God is not an unjust judge. Our God is righteous. Our God, he has counted out the sins of the whole world. He has seen the wickedness that lays in our thoughts, our words and our deeds. He has seen the evil that you have done. He has seen the good that he prepared beforehand for you to do, and he has seen that left undone. Our God is righteous. He knows that our sin requires payment, and he pays for it himself
Our God is not far off. He is near. Our God is not unfamiliar with our sufferings, no, he has been tempted in every way that you’ve been tempted, and still he did not sin. Our God, whatever the world might look like, our God has promised to work his forgiveness out right before us here today.
In the washing of water over Gabriel’s head, it looks like nothing happens, but the spiritual reality is that the promises of god are washing over him in a way that lasts through eternity. In the washing of water over Gabriel’s head, the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation are his. The justice of God has been done, and he is called a Son of the Most High God.
But why do we believe that? Because it’s what our God says happens. The things that he calls important are the things that we treasure, because in his time, they will do exactly what he says.
The kingdom of heaven is like a large church in a small town that is a special German Lutheran kind of stubborn, but mostly their stubborn to confess their sins and receive forgiveness. They’re stubborn to listen with kindness without trailing off into cruelty. They’re stubborn to love the widow and the orphan and the foreigner whether or not they see the fruit of their work. But more than that, they are stubborn to come back again and again to the place where God promises to give them grace and stubborn to believe that that grace comes because he promises it will.
Amen and Amen
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