Summary: #2 in a series. A message about being justified and repentance and a part of getting there.
We’re continuing in this series called “Crossing Over.” I appreciate Brian kicking it off last week with the most important foundation for all of it: Believe. Let’s face it, if you don’t believe Jesus deserves to be the Authority in your life, none of the rest of this will really do you any good. But if you really do believe that, or maybe you’re starting to, then listening very carefully for the next 3 messages will be very important to you. We want for you to cross over into life with Jesus. Today, we’re talking about repentance.
There’s nothing like a storm and a being swallowed by a whale to get you turned around from going the wrong direction and headed in the right direction.
That’s a simple way of saying what the word “repentance” means – it’s what happens when a person is sorry for the direction he’s been headed, and he turns away from it and heads the direction he’s supposed to go. It’s what Jonah did, after he was done trying to run from God. It’s was the people of Nineveh did, after they listened to Jonah’s message that they were going to be destroyed if they didn’t change – so they all put no sackcloth and ashes as told God they were sorry.
“Repent” is not originally a religious word, but it’s one of the essentials for a person who wants to cross over into life in Jesus. On the day the Church began, when people asked what they needed to do, the very first thing they were told is “Repent!”
It’s about changing your heart, so that your life changes. It’s the kind of change Peter is talking about in
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
God is kind. He isn’t slow. He wants everyone to come to repentance. Today, I want to look at a story from Jesus that helps us see what it looks and sounds like.
Joke - A young woman went to her preacher and said, "Brother Dunn, I have a lingering sin, and I want your help. I come to church on Sunday and can't help thinking I'm the prettiest girl in the congregation. I know I shouldn’t think that, but I can't help it. Can you help me with it?"
The preacher smiled and said, "Mary, don't worry about it. In your case it's not a sin. It's just a terrible mistake!"
The story we’re looking at today is short. It’s about being justified, and what it takes to get us there. By the end of the story, I want to talk about being justified – but that’s the destination. The road to get us there is humility. What you are about to read is what it looks like when someone is repenting.
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
2 men. One man went home justified. Will you today?
Let’s find out…
The man who went home justified…
I. Humbled Himself in Front of God
Someone has described humility as the ability to see ourselves exactly as the Lord sees us.
We live in a society that is all confused about humility – psychologists decry it; self-help gurus avoid it; and the consumer industry encourages you to forget it – it hurts their business.
The evidences are all around us: we have a long way to go where humility is concerned. So did the people at whom Jesus was aiming this parable. Lk describes them for us in
v9: To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable.
The goal of the parable is to change peoples’ understanding of what it takes to look right in God’s eyes. So there are 2 characters – a hero, and a villain. Spoiler alert: the hero isn’t the one people expected, he’s just the opposite: The tax collector. It’s not the Pharisee. The tax collector is the man who went home justified.
First, because he was humble – you can tell he was, just by the position he assumed when he came before God.