November 5, 2021
Scripture: He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector… I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-10, 14 ESV
Observation: There is a logical flow to Luke’s ordering of his Gospel. Having just explained the signs of the end of the age (that entail severe calamity and suffering), Jesus shares the parable of the Persistent Widow to illustrate the importance of persevering in prayer during stressful times. He then transitions to the parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector. The religious man exhibits pride and self-justification, while the red-hot sinner expresses humility and godly sorrow and seeks forgiveness.
Takeaway: In this second parable, Jesus teaches three essential points about staying in the right relationship with God. First, there’s no room for self-reliance and pride. We bring nothing to the table. Secondly, pride leads to contempt toward God and others. Lastly, when we understand that only God justifies sinners (through our faith in Christ’s atonement), then our prayers of repentance are heard by the Lord and will be answered.
Prayer: Father God, in your mercy, please set us free of pride and self-reliance, that we might entrust ourselves to you and your Son alone. And please help us readily see our sinful ways, that we might be quick to confess our trespasses and refrain from holding contempt toward others. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling