And he spoke a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;…
Faithfulness is established in the very heavens: but what of faithfulness upon the earth?
I. I notice with regard to our text, first, that IT IS REMARKABLE IF WE CONSIDER THE PERSON MENTIONED AS SEARCHING FOR FAITH. "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?"
1. When Jesus comes He will look for precious faith. He has more regard for faith than for all else that earth can yield Him. Our returning Lord will care nothing for the treasures of the rich or the honours of the great. He will not look for the abilities we have manifested, nor the influence we have acquired; but He will look for our faith. It is His glory that He is "believed on in the world," and to that He will have respect. This is the jewel for which He is searching.
2. When our Lord comes and looks for faith, He will do so in His most sympathetic character. Our text saith not, When the Son of God cometh, but "When the Son of Man cometh, will He find faith on the earth?" It is peculiarly as the Son of Man that Jesus will sit as a refiner, to discover whether we have true faith or not.
3. Further, I would have you note well that the Son of Man is the most likely person to discover faith if it is to be found. Not a grain of faith exists in all the world except that which He has Himself created.
4. Besides, faith always looks to Christ. There is no faith in the world worth having, but what looks to Him, and through Him to God, for everything. On the other hand, Christ always looks to faith; there never yet was an eye of faith but what it met the eye of Christ.
5. The Son of Man will give a wise and generous judgment in the matter. Some brethren judge so harshly that they would tread out the sparks of faith; but it is never so with our gracious Lord; He does not quench the smoking flax, nor despise the most trembling faith. The tender and gentle Saviour, who never judges too severely, when He comes, shall even He find faith on the earth?
6. Once more, I want to put this question into a striking light by dwelling on the time of the scrutiny. "When the Son of Man cometh," etc. I know not how long this dispensation of longsuffering will last; but certainly the longer it continues the more wantonly wicked does unbelief become.
7. "I want you to notice the breadth of the region of search. He does not say, shall He find faith among philosophers? When had they any? He does not confine His scrutiny to an ordained ministry or a visible Church; but He takes a wider sweep — "Shall He find faith on the earth?" As if He would search from throne to cottage, among the learned and among the ignorant, among public men and obscure individuals. Alas, poor earth, to be so void of faith!
II. Let us somewhat change the run of our thoughts: having introduced the question as a remarkable one, we will next notice that IT IS EXCEEDINGLY INSTRUCTIVE IN CONNECTION WITH THE PARABLE OF WHICH IT IS PART. When the Son of Man cometh shall He find upon the earth the faith which prays importunately, as this widow did? Now, the meaning is dawning upon us. We have many upon the earth who pray; but where are those whose continual coming is sure to prevail?
III. In the next place, our text seems to me to be SUGGESTIVE IN VIEW OF ITS VERY FORM. It is put as a question: "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?"
1. I think it warns us not to dogmatize about what the latter days will be. Jesus puts it as a question. Shall He find faith on the earth?
2. This question leads us to much holy fear as to the matter of faith. If our gracious Lord raises the question, the question ought to be raised.
3. As far as my observation goes, it is a question which might suggest itself to the most hopeful persons at this time; for many processes are in vigorous action which tend to destroy faith. The Scriptures are being criticized with a familiarity which shocks all reverence, and their very foundation is being assailed by persons who call themselves Christians. A chilling criticism has taken the place of a warm, childlike, loving confidence. As one has truly said, "We have now a temple without a sanctuary." Mystery is discarded that reason may reign.
4. Do you not think that this, put in a question as it is, invites us to intense watchfulness over ourselves? Do you not think it should set us scrutinizing ourselves as our Lord will scrutinize us when He comes? You have been looking for a great many things in yourself, my brother; let me entreat you to look to your faith. What if love grow cold!
IV. My text is very IMPRESSIVE IN RESPECT TO PERSONAL DUTY. "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" Let faith have a home in our hearts, if it is denied a lodging everywhere else. If we do not trust our Lord, and trust Him much more than we have ever done, we shall deserve His gravest displeasure.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;