Summary: The attitude of a person’s heart or soul, not his or her outward actions determines one’s destiny.




33 LU. 18:9-14 (Prayer)

PROP: The attitude of a person’s heart or soul, not his or her actions determines one’s destiny.


1. Notice the make-up of the crowd to whom Jesus spoke. V. 9 makes clear the central theme of this story.

2. Joke: A S.S. teacher was teaching about the bad Pharisee who thanked God that he was not like the publican. She concluded by saying, “Now let’s all bow & thank God that we are not like the Pharisee.”

3. Devout Pharisees prayed at 9 am, noon, & 3 pm. Prayers at the Temple were thought to be more effective.

4. One coming to the Temple to pray at the time of the evening sacrifice (i.e. the 9th hour, 3 p.m.) would first see a priest slaughter & cut up the sacrificial lamb, & would then notice that a priest went to the Holy Place to burn incense. These acts were performed daily in the name of the people whom the priests represented in order to affirm daily Israel’s relationship to God. After this the priest pronounced a blessing with outstretched arms. Other elements of the liturgy were the clash of the cymbol, blasts of the trumpet, reading Psalms, & the singing of the Levite choir in a minor key. (Dalman, G. (1935). SACRED SITES AND WAYS, London: SPCK.)

5. Pharisee means separated, a name their adversaries gave them. They called themselves HABERIM meaning associate: one who associates himself with the law in order to observe it strictly.

The Jews had faced a brutal time during the interbiblical period under the rule of the Selucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The intertestamental books of Maccabees tell the story of the rise of Judas Maccabees & his followers who were willing to be martyred rather than capitulate to Greek idolatry. The HASADIM were those faithful Jews who fought against this opposition. They were the forerunners of the Pharisees of Jesus’ time. (J. Ellsworth Kalas, PARABLES OF JESUS (1988), Nashville: Abingdon, p. 91).

They came from the ranks of the Scribes. They united themselves into an association during the interbiblical period, but became hostile to the Maccabeans because they lost interest in the law & became political. All acts of public worship, prayers, & sacrifices fell under the Pharisees’ authority. They believed in immortality, angels, divine providence, human freedom, & Israel’s election. They avoided as far as possible contact with non-Pharisees.

The Talmud lists 7 kinds of Pharisees.

1) SHECHEMITE, who kept the law for what he could profit thereby.

2) TUMBLING, who, to appear humble, always hung their heads down & thus often fell.

3)BLEEDING, who, to avoid seeing women, walked with closed eyes & were often wounded,

4) MORTAR, who wore a motar shaped cap covering his eyes to avoid seeing impurities or indecencies.

5) WHAT-AM-I-YET-TO-DO, who, not knowing the law, often asked “What is my duty?”

6) FEARFUL, who kept the law because of fear of future judgment.

7) LOVE, who obeyed the law because he loved the Lord with all his heart (UNGER’S BIBLE DICTIONARY (1957), Chicago: Moody, pp. 854, 855).

Remember, Paul the Apostle was a Pharisee.


1. Confident: “I thank you that I am not liKe other people.”

1) He was singing “Amazing Grace” on his way to church.

2) He scrupulous, a really good moral man. He was one who helped pay the bills, teach the classes, visit the sick, feed the hungry. He was a better man than I am, & probably better than you. He was one of the best defenders of his nation’s religious heritage.

3) He frequented this Temple on Mt Moriah regularly. We Baptists think we have it bad to go to church 3 times weekly. Devout Catholics go to mass daily. This Pharisee went to the Temple for evening prayer daily.

4) He went to pray. The Pharisees introduced the standing position for prayer to be noticed. V. 11: literally, “prayed to himself.”

5) He was not an extortioner (stealer), an unjust person, or an adulterer. He confessed other people’s sin, not his own.

6) He tithed whatever he ate, sold, or bought.

7) He fasted on Mon. & Thurs. according to the Oral Law although Moses only required it once a year of the Day of Atonement, Lev. 23;27. Mon. & Thurs. were market days with a bigger audience to admire their piety (Foster, CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE (1998), p. 51). I invite you to fast with me on Good Friday each year.

8) Pharisees were not popular, but were highly respected. You could have bought with confidence a used camel from a Pharisee.

2. Confused: He closed his prayer abruptly.

1) His righteousness was outward, not inward.

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