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The Unjust Judge

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
April 2, 2023 12:01 am

The Unjust Judge

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 2, 2023 12:01 am

If even corrupt judges sometimes administer justice for those who plead for it, how much more will the Judge of all creation vindicate His people who cry out to Him? Today, R.C. Sproul continues his exposition of Luke's gospel to examine a parable that encourages us to persist in prayer.

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Jesus is saying, if this crooked, corrupt, miserable human being who holds the office of judge, who has no regard for God and no regard for people, will sometimes administer justice because he's tired of people pleading for it. How much more will the judge of heaven and earth vindicate his people who cry unto him day and night? Are you persistent in prayer? Sometimes it can be difficult to accept, has God answered my prayer already? Or should I continue knocking?

Should I continue pleading with God? Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and thank you for joining us for this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. Each Lord's Day, we are working our way through the Gospel of Luke from sermons that R.C. Sproul preached at St. Andrew's Chapel in Central Florida. And today we arrive at a parable that features an unjust judge, a persistent widow, and many lessons for us as it relates to prayer and living faithful lives.

Here's Dr. Sproul. This morning we're going to continue our study of the gospel according to St. Luke, and we're in the eighteenth chapter today, beginning a brand new chapter. And I'll be reading from verse 1 through verse 8, which some Bibles call this passage the Parable of the Unjust Judge, or others call it the Parable of the Persistent Widow.

And either title is acceptable and correct, and I would like to ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. And then He spoke a parable to them that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying there was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city, and she came to him saying, Get justice for me from my adversary. And he would not for a while, but afterward he said within himself, Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. Then the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said, and shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry out day and night to him, though he bears long with them?

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? Again, we have a parable that comes to us from the lips of our Lord. This is God incarnate speaking, speaking the veritable truth of His Father, a truth that cannot err nor can it fail.

Please receive it as such this morning and be seated. Let's pray, shall we? Our Father and our God again, we ask that You would give us ears to hear Your Word and hearts to love it and wills to live by it, for we ask it in Jesus' name.

Amen. We notice that this particular parable that you've just heard starts chapter 18, and it begins with somewhat of a strange introduction. This is one of those rare occasions when Jesus gives a parable that before He utters the parable, He tells us in advance what the point of the parable is. And so He begins by saying, as Luke tells, He spoke a parable to them that men ought always to pray and not lose heart.

Other translations say, and not faint. And so Jesus introduces this parable by explaining to us that its purpose is to encourage us to pray in a certain manner and not to lose heart. Now the immediate context in which this parable is given in the Gospel of Luke is that it follows precisely upon the last verse of chapter 17, which concluded Jesus' warning of an impending judgment of God's wrath and doom surrounding His return, and is talking about days of dark ness and calamity that are ahead. If He was referring to that first-century catastrophic calamity of the destruction of Jerusalem, you may understand why He would follow this message and this announcement by saying, when these things happen, don't give up. Don't lose heart. You may be in affliction.

You may be surrounded with suffering and death, but keep praying and do not faint. And then to illustrate His point, He tells the story of these two characters, one a widow who is helpless and virtually hopeless in that society in going up against an adversary who is not identified, and also this character who is described as an unjust judge. So Jesus says, There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now what's the purpose of a judge in any city and in any generation? It is the job description and the vocation of one who sits on the bench to administer justice. It's his job.

It's his calling. Mortimer Adler once wrote a book about several words that were commonly found and used daily in human conversation where these words express concepts that very few people, though they use the word daily, could really give an adequate definition for. And one of the words in that list that Mortimer Adler gave was the word justice.

I put it to the test on one occasion where I had a class where I was teaching doctoral students, and at the beginning of the class I gave them a pop quiz and asked them to take out a piece of paper and their pens, and I said, Please write for me a precise and cogent definition of the word justice. They didn't blink. They picked up their pens, and you could just watch this pall fall across the room.

It was like I had asked them to interpret hieroglyphics without the benefit of the Rosetta Stone. They were struggling. They were groaning.

They were moaning, and they were failing miserably. How would you define justice? This was one of the tasks that the ancient philosopher Aristotle gave his attention to, and his definition of justice that he finally came up with was very simple. He said, Justice is giving to a person what is their due, what is owed them, what is fair for them, what is true in the matter.

You sell your car with a blown-up engine, the buyer is due the information of that problem in your car. So this definition of justice defines all kinds of matters of interactions among human beings. But if you would have asked the man in the parable, What is justice? He would say, I don't know, and I don't care.

What difference does it make? I'm here to make judgments, and whether they're based upon some abstract theory of justice is beyond the point. Don't define justice to me in terms of a theological concept, because I have no regard for God. And don't define justice for me in terms of human relationships, because I don't care about people. I have no regard for God, no regard for human beings. Again, at first blush you would think that this rascal of a judge was a kind of judge who was exceedingly rare, the exception to the rule that we can basically trust that those who are appointed to the bench will give us verdicts that are just and that are righteous and that only the most corrupt form of a judge would behave in this manner.

Oh, I wish that were the truth. We have judges throughout the land of America today who have no regard for God and even less for human life. Pick up the paper every day, and you will see the examples of that. Think of those judges who have risen in the system of justice to the highest level of the court to those who are wearing the robes of Supreme Court justices. Think in our national history of the year 1857 when the highest judges in the land reached a verdict in the Dred Scott decision that said that slaves were not persons under the Constitution and were to be treated as personal property merely of their owners. We look back into the 19th century at that Dred Scott decision and are embarrassed by it and ashamed of it, thinking it almost impossible that the highest court of this land would make such an infamous decision. But if you think Dred Scott was bad, what do you think of Roe v. Wade, where again the Supreme Court gave no account towards God and even less to the sanctity of human life?

These are the highest justices and judges of our land. If Christian people are not aware of the growing hostility towards Christ and His people, wake up. Two weeks ago, the Apple Company notified Ligonier that after eight years they were dropping us from their website and that the Ligonier app could no longer be on their program because the lectures found in there, in their judgment, were inflammatory. They cited three lectures in particular. One of my lectures in the history of philosophy when I gave a critical analysis of the history of humanism going back to the pre-Socratic philosopher Protagoras whose motto was homo mensura, man is the measure of all things. I feel comfortable that that lecture on the history of humanism would have been acceptable virtually in any secular university in America today.

I looked also at a second lecture at Spencer's Social Darwinianism of the 19th Century, again a historical analysis of the impact of Darwinian theory on social philosophy, again another lecture that I'm convinced would create no ripples in a secular university. The other lecture they cited was a biblical exposition about homosexual behavior, and I imagine that that was the one that really turned their crank. But in any case, they dropped Ligonier, and so Chris Larson, our president, called all the other major ministries in America like ours to alert them to what was going on and then recently went to Washington and spoke with the people at the Heritage Foundation about this, and an appeal had been put into Apple, and Apple responded in saying, no, we're not putting you back on, and the decision is final. But after the Christians were mobilized and the Heritage Foundation was notified, wouldn't you know we got a call back from the same man, said, we've changed our mind, and we're going to put your app back on the web. I said, I wonder what made them change their mind.

Did they finally have an attack of conscience and say this is not a just thing that we've done, or do you think they made the decision on the basis of expediency? You can answer that question. But this man in the parable had no regard for God, no regard for man. Now when Jesus tells parables, I don't think that we have to assume in every case that Jesus is speaking of a real-life situation with which He was familiar.

I'm sure there are times when He makes up stories for the purposes of illustration, which is a legitimate thing to do. But the irony of this event is that not long after He gave this parable, He Himself would be standing before a judge who had no regard for God and no regard for men, who in His judgment declared to the screaming multitudes, I find no fault in this man. Only a few moments later to say, well, okay, go ahead, crucify Him. Pilate was an unjust judge who gave his verdicts on the basis of expediency.

And that's the kind of man that appears in this parable. This poor woman had no power, had no authority in the ancient culture. First of all, she was a woman. Second of all, she was a widow.

And there's a reason why the New Testament singles out the church's care of widows and orphans to be a priority because society would not reach out to help them. And so she goes to the judge, Mr. Judge, Your Honor, please hear my case. Avenge me, vindicate me against my adversary. Go away, lady. You bother me.

I've got other things to do. And he rejects her plea. Mr. Judge, it's me again.

Remember the lady you wouldn't listen to yesterday? Please, I'm begging you. I have no help apart from you. You are the only person in the world that can help me receive justice.

Please. I told you to go away. I'm not going to hear your case. Quit bothering me. Your Honor, it's me again.

I was here yesterday and the day before. All I'm asking is for you to do what you're paid to do. All I'm asking is that you hear my plea, listen to my case.

I can't afford an attorney. But you're a judge, aren't you? Isn't this what you're supposed to do under God?

You don't seem to understand, lady. I don't believe in God. But certainly you must believe in people. I'm a person and I'm helpless.

I don't care about people. Go away and stay away. Your Honor, please, you're my only hope. Hear my case.

Jesus tells us what happens. The judge said to himself after a while, though I do not fear God and I do not regard man, this woman's driving me nuts. She's troubling me so much. I'll vindicate her lest I be guilty of perpetuating an injustice. No. Lest I offend a holy God. No. Lest I be regarded as being inhumane.

No. I will vindicate her lest by her continual coming she weary me. I'll hear her case because now it's in my best interest to hear her case because she's troubling me too much. And so Jesus says about this, hear what the unjust judge said, and shall not God vindicate His elect who cry out to Him day and night, though He bears long with them? Jesus is making a contrast here, but much more than a contrast. He's not just saying, look, there's a difference between God as a judge and this unjust judge as a judge. It's not a mere contrast, but rather the formula is one that Jesus uses frequently in His parables.

It is the formula of the how much more. He's saying if this crooked, corrupt, miserable human being who holds the office of judge who has no regard for God and no regard for people will sometimes administer justice because he's tired of people pleading for it, how much more will the judge of heaven and earth vindicate His people who cry unto Him day and night. Do you remember the question that Abraham raised to God when God announced His judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah? Abraham said to the Lord, will not the judge of all of the earth do what is right? Now I've always said to my students, there's no such thing as a stupid question, but our dear beloved patriarch Father Abraham asked his God a stupid question. Will not the judge of all of the earth do what is right?

What kind of a question is that? The judge of all the earth doesn't know how to do anything but what is right. He's never made an unjust verdict in His eternal existence. No person in this room has ever suffered unjustly at the hand of God. Yet most of us, if not all of us, at some time or another like Job, have shaken our fists in the face of God saying, how can you do this to me? How can you let this happen to me? There's nobody in this room who hasn't at some time committed an injustice against another person, and none of us have lived without receiving injustices at the hands of another.

That's on a horizontal plane. But if I treat you unjustly or you treat me unjustly on this plane, is it unjust of God to allow that to happen to me or to you? I can cry to Him and say, God, vindicate me in this case. My adversaries come against me unjustly, unfairly, falsely.

Please vindicate me, but in the meantime, what do you have in mind? I know that I'm not suffering unjustly at your hand. No one ever has, even His Son, suffered justly after our sins were placed upon Him.

In and of Himself, of course, He was perfectly innocent. But once He received the imputation of sin, He was the most wicked thing that was ever seen in the sight of God. God just does not do things unjustly.

And so Jesus follows the rhetorical question of Abraham, will not the judge of all of the earth do what is right? Now Jesus is saying, will not God vindicate His elect who cry unto Him day and night? Remember, dear ones, the focus of this parable is prayer and persistent prayer. Are there things or people that you pray for urgently and persistently? Just in my own experience, if I could see a parallel between prayer and answers to prayer, the most dramatic answers to prayer I've ever seen have been answers to prayer that were most urgent and most persistent. Most of our prayers haven't gone much beyond the infantile level that we had when we were three years old when we knelt by our beds with our mother and said, God bless Mommy and Daddy and Uncle Frank and Aunt Ginny and make me a better boy or girl. I hope our prayers have gone way beyond that, that we go with our prayers, with our hearts pouring with passion and our souls groaning by the Holy Spirit before the throne of grace. Every single day of my life I pray that God will bring an awakening to this church, that people who come week after week who are unconverted will be borne anew by the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit, that they will come under conviction of their sin, not that they would be punished, but that they would be free from punishment, that they would know the glory of full forgiveness of their sins from God.

Have you ever wrestled with God for your own soul? I can't answer that for you, but that's my prayer every single day, God, bring an awakening to Saint Andrews where the power and presence of your Spirit takes hold of people's lives and that people will have a delight for the Word of God, that they will love your Word, O Lord, and they will give their lives, body and soul, to your kingdom. Jesus ends the parable with a very strange question. He says, nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?

What? Jesus, are you thinking that maybe when you come back that no one will be here to welcome you, that your church will be empty or apostate, without faith, without spiritual life? You say, wait a minute, Jesus is the Son of God.

He certainly would know better than that. Well, we distinguish between the two natures, the divine and the human. We can't separate them, but we have to distinguish when Jesus is sleepy, that's not the divine nature manifested Himself. When Jesus bleeds, God doesn't bleed.

It's the human nature that is bleeding. When Jesus says there's something that He doesn't know, that's not a manifestation of His divine omniscience. It's a manifestation of the limitations of His human knowledge. So obviously, this is the human nature speaking, touching His divine nature.

He knew very well whether there would be faith on the earth when He came, and He knew who would have it and who wouldn't. And now touching His human nature, He wonders, will any of you persevere? Finally, if He came tonight, would He find faith in your house? Would He find it in your heart? Would He find it in your life?

Again, I can't answer that question. I just pray that if He comes to my house tonight, He'll find faith and find it in abundance. And may that be true for you. I'm sure that's your prayer as well. I know it is mine. We're grateful you're joining us for this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind.

That was R.C. Sproul from a sermon he preached at St. Andrew's Chapel as he made his way through the Gospel of Luke. And those sermons became the foundation for his expositional commentary on Luke's Gospel, a resource that has been helpful for pastors and Christians even in devotional reading. And it can be yours today for your donation of any amount. When you give your gift at, you'll receive digital access to this expositional commentary of Luke's Gospel, making it easily searchable on your phone or your tablet. So make your gift today by visiting Many Christians refer to today as Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. Next week, we'll be taking a break from Luke's Gospel as we feature a special Easter sermon from R.C. Sproul on the resurrection of Christ. So I hope you'll join us Sunday here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-02 03:01:00 / 2023-04-02 03:10:23 / 9

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