We get to read another unique parable today. I love that Luke brings us new parables as well as familiar ones. I have always liked this story and there was a song that I used to sing that went with it. I searched for it but can’t find it. I did find one I liked about the Pharisee and the Publican though. Anyway, on to our lesson.
We are told right away why Jesus used this parable and who it was aimed at. He was speaking directly to “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and treated others with contempt” (verse 9). I’m going to hazard a guess and say that some of them were in fact Pharisees. This group had a habit of this kind of behavior and Jesus called them on it quite regularly.
Jesus tells the story of two men going to the temple to pray. One so full of himself that he had no room for anyone else and the other humbled by his own life. The Pharisee in the story is praying and bragging to God about how holy and righteous he is. He isn’t unjust, doesn’t commit adultery, and doesn’t extort money from others. He is “not like other men” (verse 11). Really? I count at least two sins right off the bat. The first is judging others and the second is pride. I may be joining him is the first mentioned sin by judging him myself, but Jesus used him as the example in the story. The Pharisee didn’t “need” a Savior because he deemed himself sin free.
The tax collector or publican knew the truth. He had no standing before God. In fact, he was on his face before God. He knew his condition. He knew he needed a Savior. He knew he was a sinful man. He made no pretense.
Truthfully both men needed a Savior. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). I don’t care what the Pharisee thought, he falls into that ALL category. “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). If there was even one righteous Jesus wouldn’t have had to stand in our place. His sacrifice would have been unnecessary.
So now that we KNOW the truth about both men, where does that leave us? It brings us to the end of Jesus’ story and His message to the “holier than thou” group. If you try and tell God how awesome you are, you will be brought low; humbled. If you humble yourself before God, HE will exalt you. God can’t work with you if you don’t think you have need of Him. But recognize your need and He will be right there to meet it. Even the greatest ministers ever KNEW that they were only great because God worked in their lives. Not because they were special but because they humbled themselves and let God take the lead, He created great works through them.
Father God, thank You that You use the lowly people in Your Kingdom too. You don’t require any of us to get a Doctorate in religion before You use us. You teach and train us in Your ways, but only when we turn loose of the reigns first. You even choose the best ways for us to serve and they usually involve employing the talents You placed in us to begin with.
Thank You for giving me the gift of writing. I have enjoyed it for so many different reasons and seasons in my life. But employing it in this form has been an extra special blessing to me. I take NO credit for what You bring out in our time. I may push the keys on the keyboard but the ideas and how to express them come straight from You. THANK YOU for trusting me with Your word. I am in awe of the comments shared by those who find inspiration in what You have given me to share. Thank You for encouraging me by letting me see Your hand at work. Please continue to let me be a part of Your great plan. I give ALL the glory to You, along with my continuous praise and thanks.