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Keep Heart
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Sermon - Keep Heart
William M. Howard
October 11, 2010

Luke 18:1-8 (NRSV)
18:1 Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.
18:2 He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people.
18:3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, 'Grant me justice against my opponent.'
18:4 For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, 'Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone,
18:5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'"
18:6 And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says.
18:7 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?
18:8 I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

Prayer: Lord, grant me the wisdom to provide as you would have this sermon provide.  Jesus spoke this parable.  His lesson may be simple.  And we need to learn.  Amen.

A parable.  A story.  Jesus tells a story.  A parable is a story with a lesson, something to learn. 

Let’s look at this story and dissect.  We will take it apart.  First, which we already have said.  Jesus is telling this story.  The first line is the lesson. “to pray always and not to lose heart.”

Easy enough to hear but may not be easy to maintain.  So, Jesus introduces us to a cast of characters.  A judge and a widow.

First he describes the judge.  He is a judge who is a man of law.  He hears cases from people about conflict and arguments and his job is to make decisions.  He hears cases about criminal acts and passes judgment on them by administering punishment.  He hears cases from all levels of society and social status. 

His character is developed for us to understand who the person is.  What is the first characteristic: He did not fear God.  The second characteristic is: He did not respect people. 

He is a man of power and can make or break a person’s life.  And from the description, he would have no compassion on anyone for any reason. 

[God loves his people and has great compassion.]

Then there is the widow.  A widow is a woman whose husband had died.  A lost husband meant the loss of everything for a woman.  Loss of money, loss of home, loss of social stature as was just the nature of the culture.  She would be alone and possibly totally destitute.  She would be hungry, and cold, and lonely.

But, possibly if she went to the city’s magistrate, he would make a decision in her favor so she could live.

We don’t really know what she asked for other then through our understanding of the cultural norms of the time. 

If you know of the story of Naomi in the book of Ruth, we can see the whole profile of widows in desperate struggle to survive.

And that widows would totally depend on possible benevolence.

She goes to the judge and makes her request and he turns her away.  She is just a widow who is no one.

She comes back pleading her need.  He listens with selfish distress.  And, well, doesn’t give her more than just the time to hear her again.

She is undaunted and desperate.  She returns again and I expect with more volition, more tenacity, more perseverance.  And, the judge is getting the idea that she is not going to quit and go away until she gets her request granted.
Does he have compassion?  Not really.  He is annoyed.  And he would like to have the irritation eradicated, done away with. 

She keeps coming back.  And he has had enough.  He has the power to say no, but he also has the power to say yes as long as the request does fall within the law.  He gives in with exasperation.  She nags pretty good and did not lose heart.

She could have given up.

Jesus presents the lesson and the parable.  The nature of the parable is far more involved and impressionable than maybe our typical situation.  Or, possibly our supplication, our prayer and request of God is tremendously significant at least to us.  Significant to God?  Well, on the whole of things we all are like a widow of a long time ago in that we are not significant in the world. 

God does hear our prayer yet He may not respond, at least at first.  Do we give up?  Do we loose heart?

What did Jesus mean by keeping heart?  I thought that the metaphor “of keeping heart” was interesting and worth looking up in another translation and the Greek word itself. 

Our translator must have taken poetic license to express something differently than what the Greek says.  The word in Greek means faint or weary.  Jesus says do not faint or do not weary.  Neither of these words do we hear very often in our common everyday conversations.  And so I expect the the New Revised Standard Version translators took upon themselves to apply a metaphor rather than a specific physical nature.  Well, is it truly a physical nature.  Being faint or weary applies physically but it also applies emotionally or psychologically.  This lesson is a combination as well.  Jesus is telling us to not become faint or weary, and in this translation, do not lose heart.

What was the widow’s drive?  What was keeping her at the task of having the judge truly consider her request.  It was strength. It was physical strength and emotional strength.  And one more, spiritual strength.  That is our lesson to learn that we need to stay strong with our prayers.  We need to stay spiritually strong.

How are you feeling?  How is your heart, your spiritual heart?  Are you feeling faint?  Are you feeling weary? 
Let us listen to Jesus.  He certainly comes to us like the widow to the judge, doesn’t he?  Over and over he comes to us and he tells us of God and how we need to accept the lessons.

Does Jesus give up?  Does Jesus get faint? Does Jesus get weary? 

What is that prayer you have given up on?  What is that prayer you lost heart for?

Bring that prayer back like Jesus comes back to us.  And lets bring that prayer before God, before Christ and nag him, in  good way.  Let us hag our Lord and Savior so that he knows we believe I Him and we love him and we revere Him. He is our ultimate Judge.  But this Judge is different.  He is a loving Judge.  He is a compassionate Judge.  He heard us the first time.  Did you lose heart for Christ.  He heard us the second time.  Did you faint?  He heard us the third time.  Did you grow weary.  Let us all pray that prayer that you think He did not hear because the Holy of Holy spirit can be that advocate for you so that God will answer you prayer.  He is the judge. 

I will pray for you if you ask me too.  I will pray for Strength.  I will pray for Wisdom.  I will pray for Peace.

And I will pray that you will go before Jesus and admit to Him your personal failings and ask the Judge to give you His Love.  Amen.



Ivory Digits
William M. Howard
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