Summary: The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Justification with God what does it comprise of? But wait it appears that Humility is foundational to right relationships with God.
Jesus had a way of getting to the heart of the matter; he had a way of taking a situation and telling a story to address matters that needed addressing, he used parables those stories about a made up situation, to get to a point that he knew his followers or would be followers could do with some knowledge about and some insight on.
He took everyday situations and used them to show the very heart of God, the essence of the love of God, and how God wants relate to people, and how he wants them to relate to him.
In his book “The Jesus I Never Knew”, Philip Yancey, quotes J. B Phillips telling of how a senior angel is showing a very young angel around the universe and that the junior angel is amazed and the work of the creator the, "splendour of whirling galaxies and blazing suns", and then the senior angel shows the young angel, a floating ball of a planet that "looked as dull as a dirty tennis-ball to the little angel, whose mind was filled with the size and glory of what he’d seen." The senior angel then tells the young angel that God the creator himself spent time on that ball and that he loves and cares for the creatures that live there. "the little angel face wrinked in disgust . ’Do you mean to tell me," he said, "that He stooped as low as to become one of those creeping crawling creatures of that floating ball?" The senior Angel replys, " I do , and I don’t think He would like you to call them, ’creeping crawling creatures’ in that tone of voice. For strange as it may seem to us, He loves them. He went down to visit them to lift them up to become like Him."
God the creator of the universe in the person of Jesus came here and taught us how we can relate and be in relationship with Him, God the creator of the universe.
What weight does that give to his words…to the relationship you have with him, to his Heavenly Father and to his Holy Spirit… to GOD?
I find myself awestruck at times that God would want to, let alone does have contact with me.
Jesus tells a story to some of his followers in Luke 18 and I believe that they were some of his immediate disciples. If you look at verse 1 of this chapter Jesus had been addressing and teaching disciples, was it some of them who were a bit to confident of their own righteousness it appears, who were I think a little struck with awe at their own wonderfulness, who were a little confident, a bit upright, a bit pious and pompous about themselves and looked down…not because they were taller or up a ladder, on everyone else. If you require further convincing of this, have a look at the way the disciples treated people who brought their babies to meet Jesus in verses 15-17. He told them this parable; Luke 18:10-14.
1) So here are two blokes, the Pharisee bloke and the Tax collector bloke.
a) As we know because the Pharisees keep turning up in the gospels, these blokes were not exactly flavour of the month with Jesus and visa versa, but they were seen at the time by many as pillars of the community.
How is it that Mister Pharisee prays?
Think about it as we look at his prayer, by the way, what is it we do when we pray? Any ideas, what is prayer? How does he pray?
Lets see what he says, he prayed about himself, he gave thanks, but in doing so cast judgement upon others, and then he told God that he was right with him. It’s as if he said “Thanks God that I’m not as bad as other people, including the tax collector bloke and by the way I do more than what is expected of me, so there.”
b) The tax collector, I find intriguing. These blokes may have been alright with Jesus, but with the local Jews, they were never popular, they were pond filth, foam, froth, in fact they were seen as scum. Tax Collectors worked for the Romans, who were the invading force and very brutal powerful land lords. On Rome’s behalf the tax collectors took taxes and they made sure that their commission was anything but fair. They could because they had the whole weight of Rome behind them.
You may remember the story of Zacchaeus; he makes a staring guest appearance in the next chapter of Luke as a Tax Collector who was so short that he had to climb a tree to see Jesus. There’s a great little children’s song about him, the first verse goes like this: