Jesus’ Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge

LESSON – JESUS’ PARABLE OF THE PERSISTENT WIDOW AND THE UNJUST JUDGE

by Marty Donnellan    © 2010
Photographic images are courtesy of www.freebibleimages.com

Open in prayer.  Ask: Would someone like to read our story for today? Read or have a child read Luke 18:1-8 from the Bible supplied:

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he gave  a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

Ask:  What are some things that impress you about this parable? Wait for answers. One interesting thing is that Jesus explains the meaning of the parable immediately. In many of His other parables, he leaves the disciples to figure it out for themselves. 

Ask:  What was Jesus talking about right before He told this story? In Luke Chapter 17 He is talking about His own return, and the coming of the kingdom of God. 

Say:  Before we talk more about what this parable has to say to us, let’s give the story a little background. The judge and the widow were both Jewish. They both knew the Old Testament laws in which God promises protection for widows. Have someone read Deuteronomy 26:12,13 and Deuteronomy 27:19.

Say:  Unfortunately, in the court system of Jesus’ day, the judges had become corrupt. (Corrupt means dishonest.) Most judges would only hear cases in exchange for bribes. Does anyone know what a bribe is? An illegal money payoff.  Women had very few rights: they could not go to school or own property. Widows had even fewer rights; and a widow who was alone in the world with no other family was in a very tough position. The unjust judge probably refused to hear this widow’s case because she was poor and could offer no bribe. God valued her, but in the eyes of society, she was a “nobody”. The unjust judge did not even try to give her the brush-off with some kind of excuse. He simply ignored her!

But then something unexpected happened. The widow knew that God’s law had promised to protect her. She decided to start bugging him. She bugged him and bugged him. Over time, she bugged him so much that she became what we might call a “royal pain”!

Say:  Remember how the judge said the widow was “wearing him out” with her demands for justice? Let’s find out what this phrase meant in its original language. Did you know that the New Testament was not originally written in English, but Greek? Does anyone know what language the Old Testament was written in? Hebrew.

Since the Bible was first penned, it has been translated into thousands of languages including English. Anyway, in its original Greek, the phrase “wearing me out” comes from the boxing ring and literally implies striking blows and giving the other person a black eye or bruised face!

As the widow kept on pestering him, the unjust judge went from annoyance to exasperation and finally to anxiety and even worry! This woman was really pushing his buttons, really getting under his skin! He was starting to fret that she would not only ruin his reputation but maybe even beat him up!

   SayI need two volunteers to act this story out! One to be the persistent widow and one to be the unjust judge. (Have the “widow” wave her finger in the “judge’s” face and keep demanding, “Give me justice! Give me justice!” Have the judge roll his eyes, try to look the other way or plug his ears, and generally try to get away. Have the widow keep following him around and bugging him.)   

Ask:  Do you think Jesus got a laugh from his audience when he told this story? Probably. We tend to think of Jesus as this extremely serious and formal person, but the Bible tells us he drew very large crowds and kept them fascinated for hours on end. Why shouldn’t He use everything possible to drive home his points, including humor? After all, God invented humor!

Ask:  Have you ever had someone drive you bonkers by continually coming to you and pestering you for something? Have you ever done this to your mom, dad, brother, sister or friend? Does it work? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Wait for discussion.

Say:  Another thing I’d like to mention is a word that appears four times in this story. The word is “justice”. What is justice? Wait for answers. The story itself gives us a clue about the meaning. What does it say about the unjust judge? He did not “fear God” or “care about people”. (“Fearing God” in the Bible means respecting Him.)  Would someone like to read Deuteronomy 6:4,5?  “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Also Leviticus 19:18: “’Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus Himself quoted both of these verses in Luke 10:27, after a Pharisee asked him what was the greatest commandment.

So, if you truly love God, you WILL care about people. Justice is “making sure people are treated fairly and that wrongs are righted”.

Ask:   Jesus tells us in this parable that we should keep praying and not give up – but why do you think God sometimes does not seem to grant us justice or answer our prayers? Wait for answers: then say, “He may be testing us; teaching us patience; or working out a purpose we cannot see. We must remember that His ultimate purpose is to make us more like His son. And sometimes He is answering, but not in a way we expected.”

Here is something else Jesus said, in Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” The Greek says, literally, “Keep on asking; keep on seeking; keep on knocking”!

Ask:  Do you cry out to God “day and night” like the widow in the parable? Do you pray not only for things that you and your family need, but for God’s justice in your life and in the world? Do you pray for Christ to return and set up His kingdom on earth?

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Gloop

Each child will make his or her own small batch of Gloop! Our gloop is like the widow who kept pestering the judge, oozing into his mind, refusing to get out of his thoughts… making a big mess everywhere until she got her way!

Instructions:

In a plastic cup, mix until dissolved:

1/2 teaspoon Borax (detergent)
1/4 cup warm water

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In a larger bowl, thoroughly mix:

1/4 cup cornstarch
One (4oz.) bottle of Elmer’s glue

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Pour the Borax/water mixture into the larger bowl.
Stir constantly for 2 minutes even after gloop forms.

Children can take gloop home in  the small plastic cup. 

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Jesus’ Parable of the Vineyard

LESSON – JESUS’ PARABLE OF THE VINEYARD

Open in prayer.

Game. Pair the children off. Give each child paper and a pencil. Explain that you need a pet-sitter for your puppy. One child in each pair will represent the daytime, the other will represent the nighttime. Each child will list things to be done for the puppy in his care during the time of day or night he has been assigned. (Examples: Feed; provide water; take for a walk; pet, etc.)

Say: I have decided to pay each pair the sum of $100.00. How do you guys think I should divide up the money within each pair? What would be fair? 50/50? Various answers.

Well, Jesus made up a story about this very thing. His story was about some men who were hired to work; but not all of them were happy with their pay.

Read or have a child read Matthew 20:1-15

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Game: Explain that you’re going to pass out some candy! Tell the first child that, in order to receive his piece of candy, he must get up and sit back down 10 times. Tell the second child that he is to do the same thing, but 5 times. Tell the last child that he only needs to get up and sit down once! Explain again that when each child completes his action he will receive one piece of candy.

After the motions are completed, ask: Does this seem fair to you, that some of you had to work hard for your candy, and others, not so hard? The children will probably all say, “No!”

Ask: Let’s ask another question that kind of relates to this game. Do you think that life is fair? Wait for answers. Is God fair? Wait for answers. Is God loving? Wait for answers. Why did Jesus tell this parable? Wait for answers.

Say:  Those of us who are grown have learned that life is not always fair; but Jesus wants us to know through His story that God is both loving and fair. God’s main plan is not necessarily that our lives will be perfect and free from pain and suffering, but that we will end up knowing Him and living with Him forever. Jesus knew that first-hand when he walked on the earth: one of His many names in the Bible is “the man of sorrows”.

The bottom line is that, we’ve all sinned; and if we got what we deserved, we would all face the judgment of God.

Read or have a child read Romans 3:23. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Read or have a child read Romans 6:23. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” No, life is not always fair, but God is always loving and He always makes a way. After all, He is God!

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“Life Isn’t Fair” Thumb Coin-Stacking Game: Dump a pile of pennies on the table or floor. Have each child try to stack as many pennies on the top of his or her thumbnail as possible. Some will do better than others.

Say: Life isn’t fair. We’re not all good at the same things. But we all have things we enjoy doing or are good at. Name a list of things such as, reader, writer, runner, singer, dancer, poet, baseball player, video game player, math whiz, room cleaner, cook, karate person, artist. The children will chime in with, “That’s me!” when you mention something they are good at.

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Memory verse: Proverbs 18:10
The name of the LORD is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe.

Pass out the Skinny Verse sheets.

 

The children won’t be able to read any words until they hold the sheet horizontally to their eye. Then, they will see the skinny verse turn into the “Strong Tower” verse of Proverbs 18:10!

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Craft: Have kids go to a “strong tower” you have previously made (out of a tall box, covered with white or brown paper), and labeled with the verse. They can decorate it with markers, stickers, or drawings of themselves in windows.