04/16/19 – Luke 18:1-17; Psalm 85:1-13; Proverbs 13:7-8
Luke 18: To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this
parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood
by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like
this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God,
have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all
those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
We often focus on the differences be between the social standing of the two men in this parable. The Pharisee
received recognition and honor from the people and was outwardly strictly following the words of the Law (as interpreted
by the leaders.) The tax collector – a hated traitor to the nation of Israel.
Today I want to focus on their actual prayers. Do you see the difference? The Pharisee was nearly a speech and self-centered
(see the use of the word “I”.) He asked for nothing, admitted no sin and acknowledged no mercy from God.
In contrast the tax collector used few words, recognized his weaknesses and appealed to God for a forgiveness that he
did not deserve. And for this meekness he will be blessed.
The lesson for all believers is simple — in our weakness we need to rely on the strength, mercy and love of the Lord.