Celebrating 76 Years Of Ministry
To God Be The Glory
Current Sermon Series:
“Salvation in the Gospel of Luke”
October 26th: “What Must I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?”
Read Luke 18:18-30. Please join us at 10:45 AM.
Each Sunday we have a children's program for children K through 5th grade. It is from 6 to 7 PM.
Senior's Exercise Class on Wednesdays at 10:30 AM. For men and women of all ages. Handicapped accessible.
Each Saturday - Men's Bible Study at 9:00 AM
Third Saturday of each month at 10:00 AM - The Food Pantry is open to all who are in need.
Fourth Saturday of each month at 10:00 AM - Our Clothes Closet is open to the community.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
The author of “Amazing Grace” was John Newton. This song is what made him famous so to speak. But John Newton was also a pastor and a writer. He had a lot of memorable quotes. One that I really like is about heaven. He states, “When I get to heaven, I shall see three wonders there. The first wonder will be to see people there I did not expect to see; the second wonder will be to miss many persons whom I did expect to see; and the third and greatest wonder of all will be to find myself there.” I think this is true. The fact is: you can’t judge a book by its cover, and rather than judging other people we should make sure we are right with God ourselves. This is what Jesus was saying to us in what is known as the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (see Luke 18.9-14). To help us understand this parable we will look at two people, two prayers, and two pronouncements.
There are two people in this parable, one is a Pharisee and the other is a tax collector. The Pharisee was the religious one of the two. The word Pharisee meant “separated.” They attempted to live a godly, separated life. They knew the Bible really well; they even had laws in addition to the Bible to prevent them from breaking the laws found in the Bible. This was known as “fencing” the law. They attended the synagogue faithfully. They fasted two days each week, on Mondays and Thursdays. They had orthodox beliefs: they believed in God, they believed in Scripture, they believed in bodily resurrection. Their beliefs were sound. So when Jesus said that this man went to the temple to pray, you would think he would be the one who got through and received acceptance. The other man was a tax collector. He was the direct opposite of a Pharisee. He was not a religious man and was put in the same category as prostitutes and sinners. He worked for Rome and thus was seen as an enemy of God’s people. He was dishonest and greedy. He made his livelihood off charging people more than he ought for taxes. So when this man went to pray, you’re surprised that he was even going to the temple to pray.
These two men each prayed a prayer at the temple. The Pharisee prayed first (vv. 11-12). The Pharisee’s prayer was all about himself. He began by thanking God, but he didn’t thank God for what the Lord had done in his life. He thanked God for himself. His prayer was self-righteous and self-absorbed. He thanked God that he was not a robber or an evildoer or an adulterer. And he especially thanked God that he was not a tax collector. It’s one thing to thank God for protecting you and keeping you from a wicked lifestyle. It’s another thing to boast in this and be self-righteous about it. The Pharisee boasted in his prayer. He boasted about fasting each week and tithing his income. There is nothing wrong with doing these things, but if we do them for show then it’s wrong. Our good works do not justify us in God’s sight (see Rom 3.20; Gal 2.16). The tax collector’s prayer was much briefer (v. 13). He stood at a distance when he prayed, would not even look up to heaven, and kept beating his breast. He was contrite and repentant in his prayer. He simply prayed, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Now that’s the type of prayer we should pray if we want to have a relationship with God. This prayer highlights two things: our sin and God’s mercy. We need to affirm both (see Rom 3.23; Ps 103.8).
Both men prayed, but there were two different pronouncements or outcomes (v. 14). Jesus pronounced that it was the tax collector rather than the Pharisee that was justified. He went on to say, “All those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all those who humble themselves will be exalted.” To be justified means to be accepted by God, to be treated and pronounced as righteous in God’s sight. We are not justified because of what we do for God, but because of what Christ has done for us. By faith we are justified by the blood of Christ (Rom 5.1, 9; Phil 3.9). So if you are a good person, that is not enough. And if you are a bad person, there is still hope for you. God is a merciful God.
For more devotions by Pastor Mark, visit his blog at drmarkjackson.wordpress.com.