Summary: To note that God demands humility when we approach Him.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Text: Luke 18.9-14

Thesis: To note that God demands humility when we approach Him.


(1) This parable was “originally spoken for those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others” (Lightfoot 50).

(2) In this parable, Jesus illustrates “the spirit that ought to pervade our prayers” (Copeland).

(3) This parable “is about what God looks for in us when we pray to him” (Shelly 11).


I. The Two Men:

A. The Pharisee –

1. The name means “separated ones” (Jackson 79).

2. There were about 6000 of them around the time of Jesus (79).

3. They were “noted for their strict observance of the Law and the traditions of the elders” (Copeland).

a. “The keeping of traditions led them to self-satisfaction” (Meador 188).

b. They “went to the extreme of applying even to members of their own race who were not consistent with their interpretation of the Law” (Danaa 118).

B. The Tax-collector –

1. The IRS of the day.

2. They were hated and considered to be extortioners and traitors.

a. Extortioners, because they collected more than was required, for personal gain.

b. Traitors, because while Jews, they represented an occupying power (i.e., Rome).

II. The Two Prayers:

A. The Pharisee –

1. He found “pleasure with himself because of certain things he had not done” (Lightfoot 52).

2. “He was perfectly sure that if anybody had gained heaven it was he” (53).

3. 5 chief faults with his prayer:

a. Egotistical – Did not pray for forgiveness

b. Arrogant – Calls attention to himself

c. Selfish – Mentions others only for comparison

d. Ungracious – Fails to note that he was only giving back and not just giving

e. Trusting in his own acts of merit

4. “Ignorant of divine righteousness, he established his own righteousness and could plead only what he was, what he did, and how much better he was than others” (Lockyer 303).

B. The Tax-collector –

“He, unlike the Pharisee did not call God’s attention to any praiseworthy aspects of his character and lifestyle. He had no defense, nothing to offer God except a broken heart. He simply begged for God’s mercy” (Echols 65).

III. The Two Results:

A. The Pharisee –

Goes home unjustified

B. The Tax-collector –

Goes home justified


(1) We must approach God with a spirit of humility.

(2) He alone will exalt us to heights unimaginable.

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Mark Peterson

commented on Jun 25, 2016

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