Dependence. Today’s readings have a common theme of dependence. Let’s take a look:
First, we read the Parable of the Persistent Widow. The widow has a request for justice to be done, and persistently asks an apathetic judge to settle this dispute with her enemy. She asks so much that he has to fulfill her request just so she will stop bothering him! Jesus makes the point that if an unjust judge rules justly when one is persistent, won’t a just God answer our requests if we persistently ask him in prayer?
Next, we read the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Jesus told this story to some that had “great confidence in their own righteousness” (V.9). In the parable, the Pharisee thanked God that he wasn’t like the other sinners in the temple, and gave examples of how he did good things. However, the tax collector realized that he was a sinner and begged for God’s mercy. The tax collector left justified before God while the Pharisee did not.
Finally, we read how some parents brought their children to Jesus for him to bless them. The disciples considered the children a nuisance, so they scolded the parents. However, Jesus said:
“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it” (V.17).
Remember the common theme in these scenarios: Dependence. The ones who were justified or in right standing were the ones who were utterly dependent on someone other than themselves. The widow was completely dependent on the judge to act justly, so she persistently asked him for justice. The tax collector was justified before God because he was completely dependent on God for mercy. Jesus wanted the children to come because children are completely dependent on others for everything they need. Jesus knew he was what the children needed.
It is the same for us. We need Jesus, yet we, like the Pharisee, boast in our good works as a way to prove that we are righteous. However, we, as sinners, are completely dependent on God’s mercy to be justified before him. Only by trusting in Jesus’s work on the Cross can we be justified before a holy, righteous God. Jesus took our place.
Christians, as children of God, are completely dependent on God to provide all we need, so we should “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, CSB). We are to pray persistently, fully depending on God to answer our request.
Questions for today:
1. When is the last time you persistently and desperately prayed to God about a need in your life? What is stopping you from praying this way all the time?
2. Are you depending on your own works or Jesus’s finished work in order to be justified? How can you move from depending on yourself to depending on God?
By: Lucas Tayloe — West Campus Pastoral Apprentice