The opening lines of the Parable we’re reading this Sunday almost sounds like a tired joke: “A Pharisee and a Tax Collector walk into the temple….”. It isn’t a joke though, quite the opposite. We’ll be progressing in our exploration of the Gospel of Luke this Sunday, reading ch 18:9-14.
Interestingly, This is the only place where Jesus uses a religious backdrop for one of his parables. That change of approach should give us pause. It’s always important to remember that parables are never about what they describe on the surface. What might that mean in this case?
We witness another reversal in this story, where the respectable and spiritually minded Pharisee is characterized with less regard than the thieving tax collector. Who are the respectable in our society and who are the pariahs? It’s tempting to insert them into the characters of this story, isn’t it?
It’s important to know that this parable contains a trap – we’ll discuss that on Sunday. Needless to say, try the characters on for size and see what happens.
The idea of being justified is at the heart of this story – that of being declared just or right before God. Compare the two prayers and consider what Jesus is trying to convey to us about humanity’s plight and how that is resolved.
I’m really looking forward to examining this parable together – hope you can join us!