Luke 18:9-14

Luke

Prayer was on the heart of Jesus. He wanted those who would listen to understand what it was and what it was supposed to be. Prayer had become for some a way of telling God how good they were. They were trusting in themselves because they thought they were righteous.

“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.’” Luke 18:9-14

Jesus told the people that two men went up to the Temple to pray. One man was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were the religious leaders. They were the ones who were supposedly worthy of respect and honor from the people. And yet…

We need to understand that religious leaders are people too. ALL people are sinners in need of a Savior. Position does not make a person a Christian. It is only through choosing Christ as our Savior that we become a Christian.

This Pharisee began to tell God all the wonderful things about himself. He explained to God how he was not like other men who were terrible sinners. He shared with God all of the things he did that made him so good. The NIV translation says that he prayed about himself. The Greek word for about is pros. The word can also mean he prayed toward himself.

Hmm.

Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our righteousness is like filthy rags. Romans 3:10 explains that no one is righteous and verse 23 of that chapter tells us we are all sinners.

And we are…we have no righteousness of our own to bring before God. Yet that Pharisee stood expounding on his works.

Then Jesus told them about another man, a tax collector. Instantly two ideas would have merged in the hearts of the listeners…tax collector and sinner. The two terms went hand in hand; they could have defined each other. But Jesus told them that this man couldn’t even lift his head. He was beating himself on the chest distraught with his sin, “God have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Two men in the Temple praying, one stood telling God how good he was. The other bowed his head telling God how much of a sinner he was.

One told God all the righteous things he did. The other begged God for mercy.

One walked away in his self-righteous sin. The other walked away justified, forgiven, and in right standing with God.

Tax collector or Pharisee, position does not determine our standing with God. When we come to Jesus, pleading for mercy and forgiveness, asking Him to be our Savior and Lord, we can be like the tax collector and walk away justified.

We only need to ask. Have we?


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