by Colleen Derr
“When the son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8, NIV).
Jesus asks this question during one of His final formal teaching moments. On Jesus’ way to Jerusalem for what will become the beginning of Holy Week, He offers a series of parables on the Kingdom of God. When He addresses the coming Kingdom, Jesus makes the point that His return will come unannounced (Luke 17:20-37) and the people are to wait in persistent prayer (Luke 18:1-8). He concludes the second teaching with the question: “When the son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (v. 8).
In Jesus’ final moment of formal teaching leading into Holy Week, He offers a message of hope – ”when”. At the start of a week that was going to offer tremendous sorrow and the apparent shattering of their most precious dreams, Jesus speaks words of hope. “When the son of man returns”. Those who were present couldn’t even understand the significance of his words when they were spoken. They didn’t realize that these were words that in a week they were going to need to cling to. These were words that in the midst of their loss, betrayal, and disappointment would point to a future of reconciliation, redemption, and joy.
A message of hope – and a message of challenge
“When the son of man returns, will he find faith?” The question is stated in a way that Jesus suggests the answer to his question is “no”. This would have surprised the hearers, people who considered themselves righteous, but people whose faith was based on their practices. They possessed a self-righteousness as opposed to a faith dependent on God. Self-righteousness does not sustain and does not endure. Christ called them and calls us to a faith based on response to God’s grace.
Wesley suggested in his explanatory notes on this verse that in spite of Christ’s work on our behalf, “how few true believers will be found upon earth!” Groome (2011) also referenced this verse and cautioned that contemporary, cultural conditions are not favorable for continued religious faith.
The challenge for us heading into Holy Week is to be diligent to the faith. As we remember Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our behalf, the joy of His resurrection on Easter morning, and the hope of His return.
How can we be diligent so that the answer to Christ’s question can be a resounding, “YES”? We must be faithful:
1. Faithful in our personal devotion: Establish a renewed commitment to your personal relationship with Christ. A relationship that takes intentionality, commitment, and an awareness of your daily need for God’s grace. Will you commit today to seek Him with your whole heart?
“…Learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him: (I Chronicles 28:9, NLT).
2. Faithful in our home: Nurture the faith in your children and support the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The Israelites were told to talk about God and His ways from the moment they woke up until they went to bed, immersing their children in the words of faith and hope. The National Study of Youth and Religion revealed that family conversations about faith have the greatest impact on the endurance of faith in the lives of our children.
What are you talking about? How do your words, actions, lifestyle, attitudes, and conversations nurture faith and support the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of your family?
“We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done” (Psalm 78:4, NIV).
3. Faithful in our parish: You are called to represent well a life of faith to your friends, neighbors, congregation, and acquaintances. Allow the Holy Spirit to empower you to be His emissary to a world desperately in need of a message of hope and a God of love. How does your life speak hope and love? How do your words, attitudes, and actions reflect faithfulness?
In Luke chapter ten, Jesus is asked to define who are our neighbors. His response is the parable of the Good Samaritan, concluding that a neighbor is someone who shows mercy: “Go and do likewise” is Christ’s call (Luke 10:37, NIV).
Will you be faithful to extend mercy, hope, and love in your parish?
“When the son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Jesus offers us a message of hope – “When the son of man comes” and He offers us a challenge – “will he find faith?” How will you respond? In this week of remembrance, there is terrific hope for “He is not here, he is risen!”
Will he find you faithful?