15. The Pharisee and the Tax Collector
How the Gospel of God’s
Kingdom Works In Us
The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector
(Only in Luke 18:9-14).
This follows on the heels of the last parable. It too deals with pride, arrogance and self-promotion.
The Pharisee showed pride and arrogance. The tax collector showed humility. The gospel is the great equalizer. We are all equal at the foot of the cross. Sex, age, position, education, title, prestige, power, influence, accomplishment, and everything else in life makes no difference in God’s Kingdom. God’s Kingdom is focused on trust, faith and belief.
With correct gospel belief, God influences
us because that belief comes from him.
If our belief doesn’t come from his gospel,
then he has no control. We’re off on what
we lawyers call ‘a lark of your own.’
We tend to believe anything that floats down the Pike.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the Bible is a sound source of belief, as well as others. The point the court makes is that we just can’t have what it calls ‘hip pocket beliefs.’ These say, “It sounds right to me so it’s good for me.” This has NO credibility to be upheld by our Constitution. To be upheld by it, out beliefs must be based on what is substantial and universally accepted as truth, even if it is not universally known by everyone. Beliefs can NOT just come from US — from our ‘hip pocket’, so to speak.
The Pharisee’s belief foundation was in HIM. It was all about what he did and didn’t do. Paul calls this SELF-righteousness, that Isaiah calls ‘filthy rags’
He thought he was justified because of his performance, but he wasn’t.
Many Christians fall into this trap! Their thoughts say, ‘If it is to be, it is up to me”— ‘whatever I believe is right for me.’ That’s not Bible, that’s humanistic theology. The fact is we all have needs. We just lack in different areas. I may not lack where you do, and you may not lack where I do, but we all lack. We’re all losers without Jesus.
The Pharisee did not see this, and neither do most of us. The Publican did (the tax collector). He knew if his foundation wasn’t in God he had NO foundation (remember the Rock and the sand). He knew if God didn’t do it (give him salvation), then it wouldn’t get done by him. He was fully dependent on God’s gospel grace.
WE think if we try to live a religious life we are acceptable by God. The GOSPEL says different: if we try we lose, if we believe we win. You see, trying comes from SELF, believing comes from GOD (or it should if we have any heart toward his gospel).
The tax collector publican did. He knew, if he had any salvation at all it was in God, not in him.
Prayers accomplish nothing if they only come from self desires and expectations (we wrongly call it faith). Prayers must be founded in God’s faithfulness to us or they don’t have merit. It is the GOSPEL that puts us in connection with GOD’S faithfulness to us. Any other form of religious life, like the Pharisee, puts us into connection with self, not with God.
The bottom line is this: Pray, — in fact pray your heart out! But don’t take ‘ownership’ over your prayers. The ownership and outcome and result of our prayers belongs to God, not to us.
Remember: my purpose is not to totally discuss each parable. It is to only
show the gospel in each parable, and how it practically impacts us.
Next: The Parable of the Two Debtors