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Summary: A study of the Gospel of Luke 18: 9-14

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Luke 18: 9-14

How To Talk To God

9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

I do not know about you but I find today’s bible story to be of immense interest. I mean, stop and think about this for you. You have three other Gospels. Matthew, John, and Peter [Mark got his information from Peter]. These three were eyewitnesses. So, some 15 years after the Gospels of Matthew and Mark are in circulation, the disciple of Paul, Luke, goes back to find and interview people who were still alive and knew personally not only the apostles but our Lord Jesus Christ also. Can you see how our Wonderful Holy Spirit led Luke to some people who were there when our Lord spoke about the Pharisee and the Public Servant. Neither Matthew nor Mark were reminded by Adoni Holy Ghost to record for us this event – only Luke does.

In this parable now we have a twofold picture drawn of one who trusted in himself that he was supremely acceptable to God, and was not, and the one who was doubtful about his acceptability with God, and who nevertheless was made fully acceptable because he repented and called for mercy.

We need to remind ourselves that whatever we do for God can never be brought up as evidence that we deserve His appreciation and acceptance. Even if we are perfect in all that we do we are simply achieving what it is our duty. These are things that we should do. Should we therefore come short in any one thing we will have failed in the fulfillment of our duty and can no longer claim any merit.

This was what the Pharisee failed to recognize. He thought that he could start with a clean sheet and build up righteousness before God. He thought that he could earn God’s favor and build up merit. What he failed to see were all the ways in which he had come short, which more than cancelled out what he had achieved (which was what he should have done anyway). It is kind of getting ‘atta boys’ for all the good things we do and a ‘aw shucks’ for the things that we failed to do. The problem is that one ‘aw shucks’ erases all the ‘atta boys’ we earned.

We are going to see that in contrast to the Pharisee the public servant came recognizing his shortcomings, and claiming no merit of his own. And because of that he was received with forgiveness, and was put in the right with God. He would be ready when the Son of Man came. He was the evidence of faith on earth.


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