Biblical Perspective: When Jesus Comes, Will He Find Faith? — By Paul Anderson
Following the Parable of the Widow and the Judge in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus asks: “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” On one hand, this query puts the cap on the story of the woman who keeps on asking until even an unjust judge grants her request for justice. Faith, here, is marked by her persistence and determination. No matter how bad things look—despite hopeless travail—when the Son of Man comes, will persistence and determination be found? Will there be those who are faithful in asking for justice till the end, no matter how bad things seem in the here and now?
Here we have a call to steadfastness. No matter what, hang in there. Hold on. Keep crying out for justice; God will provide. Jesus also reminds us in Luke 11:9-13 to ask and search, because the one who asks receives, and the one who searches finds. Again, a parallel is given. If a loving parent gives good gifts to his children, won’t “the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” When the Son of Man comes, will He find faithful perseverance among His followers? And indeed, the same Holy Spirit empowers both our faith and faithfulness.
Luke 18:9-14 continues the theme of faithfulness, moving the thrust toward humility and authentic righteousness (the same word in Greek for justice). Here, the contrast between the self-righteous Pharisee and the mercy-pleading tax collector is striking. The Pharisee thanks God that he is not like “those people”—thieves, sinners, adulterers—he fasts and tithes and does it right. He signals his personal virtue, unlike scoundrels, the cancelled, the hated. Yet, Jesus declares that it was the humble, authentic, mercy-pleading one who went home justified. In that sense, saving-redeeming faith is based not upon our merits or willpower, it roots in a contrite sense of our need before God. The Spirit of Truth convinces and convicts of both sin and righteousness, and truth is always liberating (John 16:8-15; 8:32).
So, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith and faithfulness upon the earth? By God’s grace, we hope so. For the same Spirit who empowers our perseverance also convinces of our authentic need before God. Indeed, we receive grace through faith; yet we are also empowered unto faithfulness by gifts of grace. May faith and faithfulness be found in and among us this day; and even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Written by Paul Anderson — Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies at George Fox University
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