Thursday, October 20, 2016
Jesus said “Two men went up into the temple to pray; one a Pharisee, and the other a Publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this Publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the Publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, this Publican went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee"
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A parable is a story that takes a roundabout way of making a point: “Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt.” (Luke 18:9, but it’s not part of the parable)
A Publican was a public officer, and this one is a tax collector who cheats people, overcharges people on their taxes and puts the extra in his own pocket to enrich himself. He’s the scum of the earth, everybody hates a Publican, and that’s why Jesus uses him in this upside down parable that’s meant to shock.
Jesus is comparing the respected Pharisee who does everything that’s required and expected of him to the despised Publican, turning our values upside down and inside out to show God’s values. Maybe the parable will make you examine yourself and become more self-aware.
Jesus’ word “justified” means that the wicked Publican has been cleared of his sins. He is NOT found not guilty, he’s still guilty, but charges will not be pressed, as in “case dismissed.”
In this story, what causes the good guy to become the bad guy?
What turns the villain into the hero, i.e., what “saves” him?
Why isn’t the Pharisee “justified”?
Who in the parable is “going to heaven”?
We like to find ourselves in Jesus’ parables: which character are you?
BTW, don't feel sorry for either of these guys, they both arrived at Temple in chauffeur-driven Bentley limousines.
Posted by Tom Weller at 6:38 AM