In Luke 18 we see Jesus share a parable with His disciples how THEY, the ones who were listening to His words, should always pray and not lose heart. Multiple times Jesus was trying to prepare them for the mission they were commissioned for and to prepare them for great hardships and a great tribulation that many of them would go on to experience in their generation. In Luke 18 Jesus tells this parable about a persistent widow who cries out day and night for justice. The basic idea He was trying to convey was for them to not lose heart and to be persistent in prayer.
At the end of this parable Jesus says,
“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”
While we can learn principles from this Scripture, we will do much harm if we rip this parable from its context and use it in a manner that believes this verse is regarding some future coming of Jesus. Jesus consistently told His disciples and others that THEY would see the “Son of Man” coming before THEY would finish going through all the cities of Israel (Matthew 10:23, See also 16:28, 24:30). In fact, by the end of Matthew 24 we see Jesus reiterating the substance of the Luke 18 Parable of the persistent widow because they were to be ready by not losing heart, as the Son of Man was to come at an hour they may not expect.
Here is the main reason why the Luke 18 context is so important for people to understand. Many have had their attention focused on the wrong spirit because they misguidedly ask the question today, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith upon the earth?”, as if the context of this verse applies to us. The problem is that this understanding glorifies unbelief in the name of Scriptural truth when in reality faith has been growing steadily in the earth for 2,000 years, even in the midst many trials and tribulations. But when people fix their eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith, they are empowered to continue faiths advancement on the earth, while those who trust in their misinterpretations of Scripture find it hard to really believe that faith is a present and powerful reality. It locks them into a future hope without knowing the great truth of who God is now and what He accomplished 2,000 years ago that has been steadily growing ever since. And yet the invitation is still open for all to live a life of faith.
So of course we can learn from these parables that were spoken directly to the disciples (hopefully you are learning now) about persistence and faith, but what we need is persistence and faith that Jesus started building His church 2,000 years ago and the gates of hell will never prevail against it. We need to persist in faith that Jesus established His Kingdom 2,000 years ago and it has been steadily growing ever since. We need to understand the reality that faith IS on the earth and has been increasing daily. We need to understand proper context so we don’t succumb to misunderstandings that remove people’s eyes from Jesus; from what He has done and what He is doing. Our eyes can then be focused on a life of faith with God that realizes His rule through our lives more and more. We can then believe and trust that God is deeply invested in this world getting better and we no longer have to use misinterpreted Scriptures to justify our own unbelief or our frustrations with our own lack of power.
We are free to grow in the journey of knowing God and growing in faith.
So be encouraged, the Son of Man HAS found faith on earth and it is steadily growing in the lives of those who seek Him. It is growing in the many people who are persistent in growing their faith with God. Do not fear and do not lose heart for He HAS overcome the world and this is slowly being realized as faith increases on the earth all the more. Of the increase of His government there is no end. This is good news!