Luke 18:9-14: To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
Jesus once told a story about two men who went to the Temple. One man was very religious. He fasted; he gave offerings. He prayed: “God, I thank you that I’m not like other people. I’m not a robber or an evildoer. I am not even like this tax collector.”
The tax collector was standing in the back. Tax collectors worked for a foreign government, against their own people. Many of them got rich, taking money from people who had no choice but to pay. They were hated.
So what could the tax collector say? He couldn’t even look up. Instead he beat his breast with his fist and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Jesus said that God approved of this prayer, not the other prayer. “I tell you that this man went home, right in God’s eyes.” This man, who humbled himself before God, would be lifted up by God. Forgiven by God. Loved by God.
When Jesus came to this world, He came as the totally righteous Son of God. People called him “the friend of sinners”—and he agreed! That was why He came. The people who needed God to have mercy on them, needed Him.
Jesus came to humble Himself—even to the point of death—so that just as He is lifted up to life, so also will we be lifted up. He still is the Friend of sinners.
Jesus, we thank You that You do have mercy. You promise to lift us up, as You are lifted up, and give us a life, right with You, forever. Amen.
St. Louis, MO