Hey all…we’re going to be picking back up in our study of the Gospel of Luke this Sunday. We’ll be reading from chapter 18:9-14 and it’s a particularly favorite passage of mine. It’s the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector, both praying in the temple.
Several things to think about while you read this story:
- This is the only place where Jesus uses a religious backdrop for one of his parables. Do you think there is any significance to that, or to his use of the temple as a backdrop?
- This is once again a reversal of roles/fortunes, because the Pharisees were the God-guys while the tax collectors were generally seen as the devil’s folk. Think of the people who are regarded as the representations of God in our culture, and the people who are normally viewed as a pariah on society, and insert them into these roles as you read this tale. Does it bother you to do that?
- There is a trap in this parable…a hook hidden in the characters. What would you think we should be cautious about when identifying a good guy or a bad guy in the realm of religion?
- What is it that causes the tax collector to go home JUSTIFIED (declared not guilty, restored to right relationship with God)? What did he do, and how does it compare with the Pharisee’s list of achievements?
- What is the general point of this passage, in your view?
Anyway…that’s some stuff to ponder until we dig into it together this Sunday! Hope to see you there! Also, don’t forget that there will be a meeting right after 2nd service with those who are interested in supporting or going on a short missions trip to the Sudan in the future.
Oh yeah…and Burning House is this Sunday too….hope you can make it for that as well!
2 thoughts on “Getting it Right”
Love this parable. Never read The Message version before and the description on the tax-collectors prayer nearly brought me to tears.
I think we always have to be careful placing tags like “good” and “evil/bad” on people. Obviously the pharisee was in the wrong here (as was often the case) by placing an “us vs. them” tag onto the the tax-collector, but we have no enemies on this earth, whether they are pharisees, tax-collectors, Muslims, Democrats, Republicans, terrorists, homosexuals, etc. We have one enemy who has found incredibly sly ways to bring us against each other. I often wonder if Satan’s main vision for his work is to turn us (meaning all people, not just Christians) against each other…because if we are doing that, it is impossible that we are loving, even our enemies, unconditionally
I believe verse 12 is the key verse here. This pharisee gave up food twice a week and gave a tenth of all he had right. The issue here is that he gave up nothing for God and gave none of his heart. These verses are God desperately telling us it has nothing to do with our performance and everything to do with our hearts. Here’s the human condition though. I want to thank God that I am nothing like this pharisee with his self-righteousness and performance mentality, but I need to realize I can be very much like him at times. Thank God for Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour.