Faith of a mustard seed

Barbara Woods-Washington

“And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:6-8). A final look at Luke’s use of ‘Faith’ in this single tradition parable—‘The Unjust Judge’.

How to look at ‘The Parable’ as a phenomenal form of teaching has posed a problem for Biblical Scholars historically. Jeremias in his major work on ‘The Parables Of Jesus’ is definitive in stating that the parables are “weapons of controversy”; and identified no usage of ‘the parable’ (as defined by the field of Biblical Form Criticism) in the Rabbinic tradition prior to Jesus. To be sure, so often called ‘Rabbi’, it is clear that the persons of his times regarded highly the teaching ministry of Jesus.

Seeing and hearing— but without understanding, is a constant reminder on the part of Jesus as he goes about the task of teaching his message of ‘God’s Kingdom Come’! For those who do see, who do hear, who do understand— the parabolic message is ‘keys to The Kingdom’. For all others, it remains in the parable.

Some scholars have been deliberate in showing another critical aspect of the character and nature of ‘the parable’. Dodd saw a ‘bottom line’ theme recurring in a large core of The Parables and determined the need to see the ‘bottom line’ despite the temptation to be lost in the elements of allegory. It is to this bottom line that Jeremias speaks in saying that “every one of them calls for an answer on the spot.”

This parable, ‘The Unjust Judge’ or ‘The Unrighteous Judge’ is one where there can be little doubt of the importance of the bottom line. Luke has recorded Jesus as dismissing the ‘set-up’ portion, to bring the eye and the ear to the ‘bottom line’— “Nevertheless (about the other stuff), see this, hear this, “when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

One of my most important memories of my grandmother, ‘the faith keeper’ of our family, was a Sunday morning close of Worship as we greeted the Pastor at the door. She reviewed to him something that he had said in his message and invited him to come to Sunday School to repeat it. I learned from her to be completely attentive to the preaching ministry— (we got that ‘notorious pinch’ which took ‘a plug’ out of you if you so much as stirred while the preacher was preaching). I do so even today. I learned also that the relevance of the teaching ministry when applied could, and I think should, cause controversy. But, persons of controversy who are there, like Jesus, to ‘stir up the gifts’, are no longer welcomed in the Church; but, neither do persons of controversy, like Jesus, ‘feel at home’ in this (Church)— anymore.

While it is next to void when it comes to New Testament commentaries on this parable of ‘The Unjust Judge’,

I commend to you an application of it’s direct relationship to our national life in your teaching ministry. But not without the ‘bottom line’— would the Son of Man be able to see your… faith?

by email: mustard seedfaith@outlook.com