“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: “Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people — greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me — a sinner! ’ I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke, in this patable and in those in the later chapters of his gospel, is pretty blunt! In these chapters, Luke begins stating the purpose or “moral to the story”, prior to writing about it. So, he leads the parable (a story about ordinary people doing ordinary things, but with a message that has eternal significance) with “He … told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else”. Jesus is targeting a specific audience with this story and they are the ones (probably the religious leaders) ones who looked down on everyone else.
So, in His story, Jesus tells of 2 guys who go to the temple to pray. The 1st guy was a Pharisee or religous leader and he spent his prayer time telling God of his own goodness and of all the pious things he does for Him. In one translation of this story, the writer says that this man literlly “prayed to himself”. Now, lots of people (probably all of us from time-to-time talk to themselves) but the problem with this guy’s praying TO himself is that HE’S NOT GOD, and neither are we! So, he prays and tells God of all the “right” things he’s done: I fast, I tithe and I thank You,
God that I’m not like others (I can just see his wave or gesture of inclusion to others in the temple) who are greedy, unrighteous, adulterers . . . then he actually singles out the 2nd guy in this story– “even like this tax collector” (for You know, God, EVERYONE hates tax collectors)! Wow! What a self-absorbed guy!
Jesus’ story’s focus now shifts to guy 2 who enters the temple, stands in the back, not even looking up and cries, “God have mercy on me, a sinner”!
Wow–what a contrast!
Jesus concludes with, “I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
In God’s economy, He’s the promoter. As in others of Christ’s parables, we’ve learned that in order to repent or turn to God, we must first realize we’re away from God. In order to be forgiven, we must realize that we’re wrong. In order to be found , we must 1st realize that we’re lost. In order to be saved by God, we must realize that we’re hopeless without Him.
Guy 1 spent his prayer telling God how good he was and how lucky God was to have him. Guy 2 spent his time telling God how badly he needed Him and how wrong he was without him. Guy 2 left forgiven and justified, while guy 1 left more self-absorbed. Which person are you-HONESTESTY is ALWAYS rewared with God!
Think about it!