Parable Lessons - The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Parable:-  The Pharisee and the Tax Collector 

Scripture Portion:- Luke 18:9-14

Observations
Some of the main observations:-

  • Jesus told this story to some people who had great confidence in their own righteousness.
  • They scorned everyone else.
  • Two men went to the Temple to pray. 
  • One was a Pharisee.
  • The other was a despised tax collector.
  • The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed like this - "I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income."
  • But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. 
  • He beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 
  • Jesus told that the sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. 
  • Jesus also told that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Interpretation:- There was nothing wrong with the things the Pharisee was doing. In fact they were good things. But he had spiritual pride. Some people may think that we are sinners are we can never do good things. Jesus calls us for a transformed life. Standing for the word of God is different than having spiritual pride. If you see Elijah then he was standing for truth and he was not having pride. The Pharisee's prayer was all about himself.  The tax collector was not fake but was humble and true. He was pleading for God's mercy. I believe this parable has a big lesson about our hearts attitude when we pray and also when we look at others. Jesus warns against Self Righteousness and arrogance. He is also teaching about value of humility. To be justified in the sight of God, we need humbleness. 

Practical Lessons:- I need to examine my attitude in prayer as well as towards others. God hates proud but humble people receives mercy from his presence. I should do good works but that's not the basis for my justification in the sight of God. I should not remain in a sinful state. If I fall, then I should have the sincerity to ask God's forgiveness.
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