Summary: “There’s nothing wrong with me” can be a very dangerous thing to say.

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Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)

Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ

Sunday, February 21, 2010

by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter

"In a Manner of Speaking": The Parable of 'The Pharisee and the Publican'

Luke 18:9-14

The following account is based on a true story. “There’s nothing wrong with me,” the man said. The paramedic pleaded with the injured driver. “But sir, you’ve just been involved in a terrible car accident. You’re bleeding and have some deep bruises and contusions. There may be internal damage!” Again the accident victim protested: “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with me … I’ll be just fine.” But the paramedic kept insisting, “Sir, at least have a doctor check you over. We have an ambulance right here and the nearest hospital is just a few blocks away … it shouldn’t take very long.” The injured man, annoyed at this point, said: “I told you, there’s nothing wrong with me!” “But sir! …” said the paramedic as the injured man walked over to his wife’s car, got in, and drove away from the accident scene. Later that same night the man died at his home. The cause of his death? … Yep, you guessed it, he died from internal bleeding!

“There’s nothing wrong with me” can be a very dangerous thing to say. And this is especially true when it comes to a person’s spiritual life. Imagine someone having the gall to stand before God and say, “There’s nothing wrong with me!” which is just another way of saying, “I’ve done nothing wrong!”

Conversely, for someone in all sincerity to say, “There’s nothing right with me!” conveys godly sorrow and genuine contrition.

We’ve now entered the season of Lent, which is a period of forty days leading up to the celebration of Easter. It’s a time for the Christian to look inwardly and to be mortified by his sinful behavior. But Lent is also a time for the believer to give thanks to God for He promises “to forgive us our sins and to cleanse from all unrighteousness” [1 John 1:9]. In a word, it’s time for all of us to “fess up” and to come clean!

In this parable, Jesus draws a distinction between two nameless individuals. But notice their similarities as well as their differences. First of all, BOTH INDIVIDUALS WERE INTENT ON PRAYING (repeat).

Previously, Jesus had been addressing a group of Pharisees in which He shared a trilogy of parables about the “Lost Sheep,” the “Lost Coin,” and the “Prodigal Son.” The Lord then turned to His disciples, and told them another parable entitled the “Unrighteous Steward” which was an obvious reference to these religious legalists because immediately following we read: “Now the Pharisees who were lovers of money; were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him” [Luke 16:14]. Jesus rebukes these hypocrites and says to them: “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly esteemed among men is detestable in God’s sight” [Luke 16:15].

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