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Bible Story: The Pharisee and the Publican
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The Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18: 9-14)
Now we know that a parable is a story told to illustrate a truth.
Jesus used this method many times. Most often, He was showing His listeners some important moral lesson. His parables truly have helped many people see themselves in a new light. The parable is really a way to get the listener to move their focus away from "the other guy's faults" and back where it belongs...on our own shortcomings.
(Luke 18:9) And (Jesus) spoke this parable to certain (people) who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
Looking at verse 9 (above), Jesus is speaking to certain people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous. They did not trust God to judge their righteousness...they trusted themselves. And as the close of the verse shows...when we trust ourselves to judge...the result is...we "despise others".
Not you, or me, of course. This lesson is for someone else. I do all kinds of good things. So, obviously Jesus is talking about....hmmm. What IS He talking about? ...something about righteousness?
Is that like ...having the "right" to judge others..because I'm so good and all? That makes me righteous..being good. Not like those scum...the "bad" people.
Well, I'm glad I'm a Christian. Now I can look down on those sinners!
A Story About Judging Others
Did you notice how much of this chapter and the last one too...Jesus has really been hammering away at...judging. It's story after story. I heard (somewhere) that when things get repeated three times..it must be important. So what does it mean when Jesus repeats it MORE than three times?
Probably that I'm such a bad hearer He has to keep on telling me, over and over and over...lol.
(verse 10) Two men went up into the Temple to pray: one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
Verse 10 starts the parable. Two men go to church...to pray. One guy is a born again Christian, The other one is some slob who sneaked in...an un-believer.
Huh? What? It doesn't say born-again? My bad. It's just some religious guy from two thousand years ago. sorry. He's safe to blame. He's dead.
Hmm. Got any Pharisees in the neighborhood? Publicans? No? Me neither. So let's just skip this story. 'cuz people like this are dead and gone, right?
No? You got hypocrites at your church? Wow. There's mean religious people at your church, really? Horrors. There's mean, judgemental religious hypocrites on HubPages? No! Say it ain't so!
Maybe the parable is about hypocrites and judging people who aren't as "religious" as we are.
Getting Noticed for Jesus
Tell me something. How are you going to know the good guys..from the bad guys? Right! ...by what they DO! So, if he does good..he's good. And if he does bad..duh!?! He's bad. We got the whole good tree/good fruit...bad tree/bad fruit thing. That's it. Done. Let's move on.
So...why is Jesus making this so hard? If the good people are the bad people...ya gotta help me. Whassup?
(Luke 18: verse 11)
The Pharisee stood and prayed like this to himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not like like other men are; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even this publican. (verse 12) I fast twice a week, I give tithes of everything I own.
Religion...that's man's method of doing. That's "godly, goodly" stuff. It's a fake, a counterfeit...it's a three dollar bill.
Religion is so slick...it turns good into bad. Religion gives you this perfect teflon coating..doing good stuff...it just makes sin slide right off... and the blame? ..plops on that guy..over there.
This religious guy is praying to himself.
Hey God..thanks for making me handsome and I'm glad my kids got my looks and my wife really fits in with people, successful...like me too. Man, this is great. Thanks. I earned it, really. But, you gotta give credit to whom it's due, right? We are so into doing good...we deserve some credit. And we're really grateful that you, God, notice our work. Other people do too and that's what it's all about. Getting noticed for Jesus, right?
P.S. God, I'm really thankful I'm not like that guy in my church...over there. I can see he's just a really lousy Christian or worse..he's not even a Christian! What a scumbag!
When Sin gets the Spotlight
Do you ever feel like there's this spotlight on your life..and everybody, including God, can see your sins?
(verse 13) And the publican, standing away from the rest, wouldn't even look up toward heaven, but pounded against his chest, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
Sin is so slimy..it just gums up everything. Pretty soon, things that used to be great...seem to go to mush. Everything seems to irritate and make you mad. Or sins that you thought were long behind you, seem to crop up again. It's a shame that sin has gotta be this way. Sin really seems to mess with.... everybody ...Christians included.
Did you ever notice the bummed-out people at church? They wouldn't crack a smile if their life depended on it. Why can't they just be happy?
God loves you! He's willing to forgive. He's even willing to offer His mercy. Especially when you hate your own sin.
A Clay Pot in the Furnace
It seems that when we notice our own sin and feel the shame of it...then we come to God. Tears burn down our cheeks, our heads are heavy,our knees are weak...confessing our sinful ways.
(verse 14) I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: because everyone who exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.
This is when our loving Father looks down on us; and with a gentle smile, he encircles us in a loving grasp.
Come closer now. And let us reason together, God says. And I will turn your sins..though they be like scarlet...they shall be white as wool.
When we fall all the way off our high horse... When sin rules over us like a river in flood...God waits...to hear our cry. Lord, have mercy on me...a sinner.
If my people (believers) will hear my voice...and humble themselves.. then I will heal their land.
It is not God's intention to leave us in our sin and in our shame. His way is to restore us..to make us whole. The only way to holiness is by confessing our sins.
There is a way, which seems right to a man..but that way..ends in death.
There is another way. It is a path the meek will choose. A better way, where God will lift up the downcast and raise up the humble man and set him on high. But we don't have to wait for this great upswelling of love from God. He already knows us. And by His great lovingkindness He has set us in the heavens with Christ Jesus. It is more than we deserve. It is the gift He offers to the ones who bow down...acknowledging that only God..is holy, pure and righteous.
We have the shadow of this righteousness in clay pots firing in His furnace. Not to harm but to make the glaze more durable. Not to break but to make us stronger, more pure. We are the work of His hands and not of ourselves...lest any man ..should boast.