They say that opposites attract. In our parable for this coming Sunday the Tax Collector may want to have the Pharisee’s pious religious observance. However, I am not sure that the Pharisee is comfortable with the Tax Collectors honesty and humility before God.
Let’s consider these two characters.
- By himself
- Pious, he makes all the correct religious observances
- Judges the tax collector and others
The Tax Collector
- Far off, he is in the background which would make him appear small to our eye
- Would not look up
- Beats his breast
- Acknowledges that he is a sinner
- Asks for mercy
On the surface there does not seem to be much wrong with the Pharisee’s prayer. However, it does appear as though he is going through the motions rather than offering genuine prayer and thanksgiving to God.
The Tax Collector’s prayer is short and poignant. It is full of confession and a request for mercy.
Which prayer should we model?
Text: Luke 18: 9-14
Questions for Sunday
- Note the setup of this parable which is contained in verse 9. Ignoring, for a moment, the remainder of the parable what is the message that Jesus is making in this first sentence?
- Is it possible to be humble and also be proud of our accomplishments?
- What do you think Jesus means when he references humility in this parable?
Prayer for Sunday
Gracious God, I pour myself out before you. Be merciful to me, a sinner. Amen.