Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Why do you say that?
2. Do you think the world is getting better or worse? How confident are you that your grandchildren will have a better life than you have had? Why?
Read Luke 18:1.
1. The beginning words of this verse connect it to what Jesus said immediately preceding it. What was Jesus teaching about in Luke 17:20-37? What emotions do you feel when you read those verses?
2. The word commonly translated “then” or “and” to begin 18:1 can also be translated “but” or “on the other hand.” Why might we need to be encouraged to “always pray and not give up” when considering Jesus’ second coming?
Read Luke 18:2-5.
3. How did Jesus describe the judge in this parable? Do you see similarities between this judge and some people in power today? Explain.
4. The judge didn’t care about God’s standards or public opinion. What did motivate him? Would you say the best way to deal with a leader like this is to stand up or back down? Why?
5. When people in power seem apathetic or even hostile to those seeking justice, we’re tempted to think there’s nothing we can do to change things. How does the widow in this parable show a different attitude? Although she is usually described as “persistent,” what other words would you use to describe her?
Read Luke 18:6-8.
6. One method of rabbinical teaching was to argue from the lesser to the greater. If the worst person acts in a certain way in certain circumstances, shouldn’t we expect the best person to do even more? (See Luke 11:11-13, for example.) How should we expect God to respond to our prayers in a world that is often hostile to his commands and values?
7. Does this parable make you more of an optimist or pessimist when you watch the nightly news? How does it motivate you to act when you see powerful leaders acting unjustly?