“yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wears me out.” Luke 18:5
Wears Me Out – The unjust judge had a dilemma. What would he do if this old woman got so furious at his insensitivity that she hit him in the eye? He would be shamed beyond imagining. Everyone would know of his mistreatment of the widow. Better to avoid that possibility and give her what she wants.
That’s what the Greek phrase really means in this verse. Your Bible might have a marginal reading like the NASB (“hit me under the eye”). The Greek is hypopiaze me. Literally, it means “give me a black eye.” No wonder the judge gave in. How could he explain this visible sign of his lack of compassion?
Of course, Yeshua is not speaking about justice. Even though the parable uses a courtroom setting and the familiar stories of judges who were more susceptible to bribes than to righteousness, Yeshua is really talking about prayer and faith. The opening line for this parable is the question of the character of God. If the unrighteous judge will finally relent because of the threat of shame, how much more will the righteous and gracious God be quick to hear and honor the requests of His children? That’s what Yeshua is exemplifying in this parable – the compassionate character of the Father.
But the parable raises an even more interesting question. In this parable (and others), in addition to the character of God we are also taught something about the character of faith. Faith is portrayed as obstinate tenacity. Faith is never giving up. It is pressing on and on, regardless of the circumstances. You can see this kind of faith in many New Testament people. There’s the Syro-Phoenician woman (crumbs for the puppies), the bleeding woman (pressing through the crowd), the blind man (who will not be quiet), the lepers (who will not go away) and the prostitute (breaking into the dinner party). In each case, Yeshua comments on their great faith. In these examples, faith isn’t about a saving knowledge of Jesus or the right theology or a set of creeds. Faith is about persistence. It’s about pressing and pushing and prodding until God acts. It’s praying and pleading and petitioning until God shows up. It’s never giving up in the face of circumstances or trials or anything else that might keep us from experiencing God’s justice. At the end of the day, faith is action – unrelenting, unstoppable, uncompromising.
Is that the kind of faith that carries you? Are you pushing until you break through or until you strike a blow? Or is your faith the kind that sits comfortably in a bottle on the shelf? What would your prayers be like if they were laced with hypopiazo? Would you be a bit more like Jacob who wouldn’t let go until he received a blessing even after he was beaten?
Topical Index: Faith