Words to Live By – Parable of the Pharisee & Tax Collector

The Gospel last week was the challenging parable of the Pharisee and the and the tax collector from Luke 14 in which Jesus totally upturns our expectations of who will be justified before God.

We along with the Jews of the time would be impressed hearing the self-satisfied prayer of the pharisee: ‘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.’  A confidant prayer of thanksgiving from a  man who exceeds  in his duty to God.

The tax collector would be hated, exacting taxes for Rome and keeping some for himself. He would be rich and despised. Yet he beat his breast and prayed: ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

Jesus turns our assumptions upside down with his conclusion: ‘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.’ Jesus shocks us, and forces us to assess our own claims to righteousness with a lot of humility.

Submitted by Patrick Gossage