Piper: Everything hangs on God being different from this judge


John Piper asks:

A widow comes to an unjust judge and pleads for help. She is being oppressed unjustly and wants him to use his authority to seek her relief. That’s us, the widow. Weak, poor, and no husband to speak up for us. Her only source of help, the judge. Our only source: God. She comes again and again until he gives her the help she needs just to get her off his back. But the argument of the parable is not that if you can wear out an unjust human judge, then you may stand a chance of wearing out God so that he helps you just to get you off his back. That would contradict Luke 12:32 where Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

But even more important is that the parable itself shows that everything hangs on God being different from the judge. Jesus tells us two things about the unjust judge in verse 2: “he neither feared God nor regarded man.” These are repeated in verse 4: “though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet . . . I will vindicate her.” In other words, these two marks of the judge are obstacles to his helping the widow. First, he has no fear of God and is, therefore, prone not to help her. This means that the fear of God would prompt a judge to help a needy widow. And if the fear of God would prompt a judge to help a needy widow, then God is not like the unjust judge but is the kind of God whose heart inclines to help those who cry to him. So when Jesus tells us that the obstacle that almost kept the judge from helping the widow was his failure to fear God, he makes it crystal clear that the fear of God inclines a person to give heed to cries for help, and therefore, God himself is right in mercy to all who call upon him. Therefore, if a judge who has no fear of God can be swayed by persistent petitions, how much more certain we can be that God will help those who cry to him day and night.

The second mark of the judge was that he had “no regard for man.” The widow was unknown to him, and he had no interest in her. The assumption is that if he cared about this widow, if she were his mother, he would help her. So we must ask: Does God have no regard for us? Is he indifferent to our needs? In verse 7 Jesus gives us the answer: “And will not God vindicate his elect?” Disciples of Jesus are not in the category of strangers to God. They are his elect. He has chosen them. He has set his favor on them. He has adopted them to be his children. As Paul says in Romans 8:31–33, “If God is for us, who is against us? . . . Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” There is no condition of man more precious to be conceived than to be chosen by God. It means he has set his favor upon us fully and freely. He is for us with all his might. Therefore, Jesus argues, if an unjust judge can be moved by persistent petitions to help a stranger for whom he has no regard, how much more “will God help his own chosen ones who cry to him day and night!”

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