Luke 17–18: The Pharisee & The Tax Collector

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 27: Saturday

And He also told this parable to some people
who trusted in themselves that they were
righteous, and viewed others with contempt:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray,
one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

“The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9–14

Saturday’s Bible reading is Luke 17–18. Some of the events found in these chapters are also in other Gospels, but the two parables on prayer in Luke 18, are only in the Gospel of Luke.

Even though it’s recorded in only one Gospel, the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is well known. Self-righteousness is toxic and repulsive and many people have been on the receiving end of the contempt that is its natural expression—so this story is quite memorable.

Have you ever thought about the connection between self-righteousness and contempt? Thinking your own righteousness is adequate will lead you to view others with contempt for not being as good as you are. Those who trust in the righteousness of Christ alone should view others with humility because we know our own righteousness is as filthy rags before God.

We know a sigh of relief and rejoice in the forgiveness given to the tax collector, but remember to whom Jesus told this parable: “…people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt.” Let us ask God to keep us from pride and to remember that before God all of us are should be as the tax collector and humble ourselves before Him.

Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
The Pharisee and the Publican (Le pharisien et le publicain), James Tissot: Public Domain.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

2 thoughts on “Luke 17–18: The Pharisee & The Tax Collector

  1. In this parable is the dualism I refer to in my book as “Real Christianity” and “Unreal Christianity.” The latter is characterized as the self-righteous and contemptible Pharisee saved by its own religious works and social standing. The real Christian knows his or her salvation and place in God is dependent entirely on God’s mercy and grace.

  2. We so easily forget to be dependent on God’s mercy and grace. Our default setting is works, and we all have a tendency to become Galatians—what we began in faith, we want to finish by works. Brand-new Christians full of joy at knowing God and being forgiven remind us of who we really are and of what Christ has done for us. I think that’s one of the greatest and most invaluable of ministries they give to their brothers and sisters in Christ.

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