"When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)
Maybe, maybe not.
I always thought this was a sad, plaintive end to the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8) where Jesus encourages his disciples to always pray and never to give up. Jesus wraps up his teaching with three questions:
1) Will not God bring about justice? The answer is yes.
2) Will God keep putting us off? The answer is no.
3) Will the Son of Man find faith on the earth? The answer is maybe.
At first glance the last question may seem out of place. But it fits as the conclusion to Jesus' description of his Second Coming in Luke 17:20-37. Instead of the detailed discussion we find in Matthew 24-25, Jesus makes two key points about his return:
It will be a) sudden and b) unexpected. Therefore many people will be caught unprepared to meet him.
I think the deeper connection goes like this. As we move closer to the Last Days and the end of the world "as we know it," anxiety will rise, tumult will increase, nerves will fray, society itself will be shaken to the core, troubles will mount, and it will seem as if the world itself is spinning out of control. What should we do to hold on to our faith?
We should pray.
Earnestly, fervently, repeatedly, unitedly, persistently.
John Piper explains the implications of Jesus' question this way:
The word from Jesus to us this morning is: don't stop praying; don't peter out; don't be fickle; but "always pray and don't lose heart." And this word increases in urgency as we see the end of the age drawing near. As Peter says (1 Peter 4:7), "The end of all things is at hand; therefore, keep sane and sober for your prayers." The pressures of worldliness will become greater as the end draws near, therefore, all the more must we watch and be sober unto prayer, and not lose heart.
So if you believe that Jesus is coming back . . . pray, pray, and keep on praying. As the coming of Christ draws near, we ought to pray more, not less because in the Last Days prayer marks us as true followers of Jesus.
When the Son of Man comes . . .
Will he find faith in your church?
Will he find faith in your family?
Will he find faith in your heart?
Lord Jesus, grant that we might not be discouraged even a little bit by the things that happen around us. We want to pray and to pray more than we do. We ask for "praying grace" so that when the Son of Man comes, he will find faith on the earth made manifest in our prayers. Amen.