Who do you Trust?

Gospel of Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  29:01
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The Persistent Widow

Last week Hope spoke to us about the need to pray always and not to lose heart. The parable that Jesus told - of the persistent widow. How she kept on bothering the unjust judge, knocking on his door - persistently pestering until eventually he relents...
The New Revised Standard Version (The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge)
Luke 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.’ ”
Jesus’ conclusion:
Luke 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?
The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Lk 18:7). (1989). Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Jesus is briefly comparing the unjust and corrupt Judge to God - and saying how God is nothing like that Judge. When God’s chosen ones ask for justice - God grants justice. When God hears the cry of his children - he comes running.
The New Revised Standard Version (The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge)
Luke 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?”
Persist, Pray and Protest - not in the direction of your own interest - but in the direction of God’s justice.
The widow protested in the direction of God’s justice - God’s Kingdom Will - and even the unjust judge relented. How much more then - will God who is good - who holds the universe in the palm of his hand - how much more then will this Good God - give Good things to those who ask.

Who did the widow trust?

I could say she trusted in herself. In her ability to keep on pestering until things were turned around in the right direction.
But then I realise that her protest action was not just protest - her protest was prayer - and sometimes prayer is protest.
Methodist Theologian Stanley Hauerwas writes about intercessory prayer in a book on worship - he says that
Prayer is ‘giving grief to management’.
—Stanley Hauerwas
In her protest - she might not have realised she was praying - but when she prayed in the direction of Justice. She prayed in the direction of God’s heart. And to her protest was added the mighty weight of God’s inevitable justice.
So maybe she was tenacious and the best kind of grumpy - taking all of her grief to the judge and saying you know what the big rich guy who paid you off to diddle me out of my house - is nothing compared to my tenacity.
And God looked down from heaven - smiled and tipped the judges heart in her favour.
The coming of God’s Kingdom is inevitable.

Who do you trust?

Luke 18:9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:
The parable he told - about Two men who went to pray.
A Pharisee.
and a Tax Collector.
You all know that I’ve been having an interesting time with my glasses this year. Its a new thing to me - having to wear glasses. I was really struggling to read the fine print on my pills. So now I have pille and brille.
But I was reading them I was getting so iritated. Why have they made the writing smaller?
I was getting iritated with my computer monitor - and my computer. Why is the writing blurry?
What is wrong with the screen?
Are the lights in this room bright enough?
Eventually I went to the optometrist who advised me that I was about 5 years behind schedule.
With new glasses my computer screen is suddenly much better - the writing is not so blurry.
I still can’t read the fine print on my pill boxes.
But there is a problem - I find myself staying up until all hours of the night reading books.
It is good to be able to see them.
I was so convinced that my eyes were fine that I moaned about everything except my eyes.
Luke 18:9 to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:
Makes me think of what Jesus was saying.
Trusting myself that I am righteous and thinking that everything is wrong with everything other than me.

88.195 ἐξουθενέω: to despise someone or something on the basis that it is worthless or of no value—

When you say that you regard others with contempt - I think that you might have some sort of emotion toward them. It sounds like I don’t like you. That I hate you and judge you in some deep way.
But this word seems almost worse. Its like you are regarded as invisible / as a nothing.
I think I’d rather be hated - than despised.
If you’re hated you’re getting a reaction. Somebody cares enough to be angered or disgusted by you.
But despised -
Its like you don’t exist.
You don’t matter.
You’re unseen.
This is the attitude of the Pharisee - so wrapped up in himself that he can’t see that the problem is with his eyes. Not the screen // not the phone.

In the Temple

The thing is - both of these people are in the temple.
The temple of which the Psalmist writes:
The New Revised Standard Version The Joy of Worship in the Temple

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,

O LORD of hosts!

2 My soul longs, indeed it faints

for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and my flesh sing for joy

to the living God.

This Holy place - regarded as a dwelling place for God. This opprotunity to call out to God in protest and prayer. This opportunity to align yourself with God’s will. To make a new and better beginning.
But the Pharisee is so wrapped up in himself that he hardly seems to notice God.
He just tells God how great HE is.
The New International Version (1984) (The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector)
‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
The tax collector on the other hand - is mindful of where he is. The holiness of the momen t- the opportunity for a protest.
Like the widow beat on the door of the unjust judge the tax collector:
Luke 18:13 ...would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
He comes to God with a problem - acknowledging - God; I am the problem. I am a sinner. I need your mercy.
So aware of God’s presence he doesn’t look up.
He doesn’t stand close to the holy places - but rather hides in the shadows.
And in the shadows he is more aware - more present than the Pharisee who is only aware of himself and what he thinks everyone thinks of him.
Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Jesus loves to remind us that the best prayers are the one’s you pray in your secret cupboard. The ones where you are honest with God and not trying to impress your friends.
And in this passage - Jesus reminds us that the Pharisee didn’t go home ‘justified’ - the tax collector did...
The New Revised Standard Version (The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector)
Luke 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The Pharisee thought his works - his good law keeping tasks made him righteous:
Luke 18:12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’
The tax collector - can’t list his accolades - all he can enlist is the grace of God.

the tax collector depended on God’s mercy and as a result received God’s gift of righteousness and was pronounced justified.

Luke 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified
Jesus could have said - this man left the temple justified.
Maybe I’m thinking to much.
But it tells me that on his way home he didn’t lose his holiness.
He didn’t lose the power that God had worked in him as a result of his honest, humble, contrite prayer.
He received God’s good grace.
And he took it home with him. A new man.
A new person.
He didn’t leave his faith in the temple.
He took it back to his family.
And I’m sure he made some changes.
Psalm 84:2 (NRSV)
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
The Psalm reminds us of the privilege and the promise of a moment in the temple. A moment to encounter God.
Lord I need your help.
I can’t make it on my own.
A moment that we so often miss because we’re like the Pharisee so detached and self aware that we are not open to the presence - theholiness of God.
Holiness that humbles you - that makes you realise you have nothing helpful to offer.
All you can do is trust God for grace.
Here is the moment. Choose to connect.
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