The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 118

The Perean Ministry ~ Part 12

In our last post, we followed Yeshua as He left Yerushalayim to go to Perea. In this post, we continue to examine His Perean Ministry as He Continues to Teach in Parables.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

In this parable, Yeshua depicts an Oriental judge who can be approached without the bureaucratic entanglements of the modern West, a man without conscience but with a human weakness that ultimately leads him to grant genuine justice despite himself. If a corrupt judge finally gives in to a widow’s pestering, how much more will God, who is altogether just, respond to His chosen people’s continual prayers (as opposed to the widow’s occasional visits), such as “Adonai, how long will you look on? Rescue me from their destructions, my only one from the lions” (Psalm 35:17), or, “O God, how long will the adversary insult? Will the enemy blaspheme your name forever?” (Psalm 74:10).

Then Yeshua told His talmidim a parable in order to impress on them that they must always keep praying and not lose heart.“In a certain town, there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected other people. There was also in that town a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me a judgment against the man who is trying to ruin me.’ For a long time, he refused; but after a while, he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God, and I don’t respect other people; but because this widow is such a nudnik, I will see to it that she gets justice—otherwise, she’ll keep coming and pestering me till she wears me out!’”

Because this widow is such a nudnik, literally, “because this widow causes me trouble, bothers me.” The Yiddish word nudnik means “someone who persistently bores, pesters, nags.” It captures precisely the particular kind of bothering and trouble the corrupt judge experiences.

Then the Lord commented, “Notice what this corrupt judge says. Now, won’t God grant justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Is he delaying long over them?

Is He delaying long over them? It would seem so – the words were spoken nearly two thousand years ago, and the final vindication is yet to come. But 2 Kefa 3:8–9 sets things in the proper perspective: God is not slack in His dealings with humanity in the sense that people understand the term “slackness,” for with Him “one day is like a thousand years” (quoting Psalm 90:4). And God’s motive for delaying? It is to bring people to repentance (Romans 2:4–6).

I tell you that he will judge in their favor and quickly! But when the Son of Man comes, will he find this trust on the earth at all?”  [1]

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Because those who reject the Gospel sometimes accuse evangelists of acting “holier-than-thou,” it is noteworthy that it was Isaiah who first used that phrase, referring to Isra’el in rebellion against God: “They say, ‘Keep your distance, don’t come near me, because I am holier than you.’” (Isaiah 65:5). Unfortunately, God’s people are susceptible to this most offensive of sins, against which both the Tanakh and Brit Hadashah severely warn, religious pride.

Also, to some who were relying on their own righteousness and looking down on everyone else, he told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Parush (a person of high social status)  and the other a tax-collector. 11 The Parush stood and prayed to himself, ‘O God! I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, immoral, or like this tax collector!

He prayed to himself and not to God, despite his addressing God. He wasn’t in contact with God at all but merely boasted and justified himself. Alternatively, he “prayed about himself.”

12 I fast twice a week, I pay tithes on my entire income, … ’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes toward heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God! Have mercy on me, sinner that I am!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home right with God rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”  [2]

I fast twice a week. There is no evidence that the P’rushim as a group fasted twice a week. However, they did fast “frequently” (Mattityahu 9:14). The Talmud speaks of one who “undertakes to fast every Monday and Thursday throughout the year” as not unusual but not the norm. Within the framework of trusting God, fasting was and is a normal part of a Believer’s life (Isaiah 58:1–12, Mattityahu 6:16–18, 9:14–17). I confess that I don’t fast as often as I probably should.

I pay tithes on my entire income. The requirement to pay ten percent of income is based on Leviticus 27:30–33 and Numbers 18:21–26. In general, tithing, all of one’s income, was regarded as beyond the call of duty. I suppose this Parush felt he was doing something special and unique for God, for which God owed him thanks and reward. Such a mentality is, of course, neither peculiar to P’rushim in particular nor un-Believers in general; on the contrary, some who consider themselves Believers seem to be especially susceptible to this sort of false pride.

The tax collector stated Sinner that I am, literally, “the sinner.” He experienced the depth of his own sin and was utterly remorseful and repentant; as a result, God forgave him (v. 14).

In our next post, we will conclude our journey of Yeshua Continues to Speak in Parables in Perea.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1]  Luke 18:1-8.
[2]  Luke 18:9–14.

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