Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Both of these parables are retellings of things Jesus has already said in Luke’s gospel. The first story, the widow, is essentially the same as the man who wanted to borrow bread from his neighbor. The message here is, persistence works with men, and also with God. The second story, the pharisee and the tax collector, is similar to what Jesus said about seating yourself at the place of honor. This message is, when you are full of yourself, it’s hard to be full of God.
It’s not difficult to understand why Jesus would tell these stories twice. He traveled all over and spoke to a different crowd every day. I’m sure He repeated all of His parables over and over. To me the real question is, why did Luke bother to record them twice? Two answers immediately come to mind, though there are probably other explanations as well. 1) They’re important. 2) Different people may understand one better than the other. The “original” versions of these parables both have to do with wealthy people in wealthy situations. Perhaps Luke felt the poor readers (Readers? Listeners? That seems like something I should know…) would relate better to a helpless widow than to men dining at a banquet, but the wealthy readers would relate better to being a guest of honor.