Parable Of The Pharisee And The Tax Collector


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The Doctrines Of Imputation And Federalism

The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

If we are like the Pharisee, how can we change?

Right doctrine helps. Is God our divine helper, granting us the ability to become good, or is he our Divine Savior, granting us his goodness? If God gives us our own personal goodness and accepts us based on that, it makes sense for us to look down upon others. But if God gives us righteousness through his Son, and only through his Son, then we have no right to look down upon others. We are all equal. We all need the righteousness of Christ.The gospel tells us not that God gives us our own personal righteousness but that he gives us Christs righteousness. The theological term is imputation. Imputation means to attribute something to ones account. This is what God does to us with Christs righteousness. John Piper clarifies.

“Imputation” is different from “impartation.” God does “impart” to us gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, so that we have them and they are in us growing and they are ours. But all of that gracious impartation through the Spirit is built on an even more firm foundation, namely, imputation – the work of God outside of us: God’s own righteousness, not imparted to us, but imputed to us. Credited to us, as Romans 4:6 and 11 say. Put to our account. Reckoned to be ours.

The Bible tells us of three imputative events throughout history. First, Adam imputes his sin to all mankind. Second, God imputes the sins of the elect to Christ. Third, God imputes the righteousness of Christ to the elect.

The Tax Collectors Prayer

Nobody in Jesus day would expect a tax collector to be the example for anything good. They were considered the lowest of the low.

When the Romans invaded they set up a tax collecting system that leveraged Jews to collect taxes on their own people. The deal was you sent Rome their tax and then you were allowed to keep an additional amount you chose to collect. This lead to tax collectors getting rich by effectively stealing from their own people. To say they were hated is too mild.

But Jesus flips the script. Look at the tax collectors prayer: But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Luke 18:13

His prayer is a stark contrast from the Pharisees prayer. He stands at a distance and refuses to assume the normal posture of prayer of looking to heaven, as the Pharisee did. The tax collector recognizes his unworthiness and is like a child who knows hes in trouble and refuses to look his parents in the eyes.

While the Pharisee used his prayer to beat down others, the tax collector beats his own chest, further showing that he understands his own sinfulness.

And when the tax collector prays he doesnt pray to himself, he prays to God. Its a simple prayer in which he recognizes his only hope is for God to save him.

The Pharisee used his prayer to elevate himself as the righteous. The tax collector used his prayer to elevate himself as the sinner.

Jesus Is The One Who Makes The Difference Between The Pharisee And The Tax Collector

What we need to realize after hearing this parable is that which makes the difference between the Pharisee and the tax collector is Jesus, the one telling the parable. When the tax collector beat his breast and cried out to God for mercy, he was really asking God to give him an atoning sacrifice for his sin. The Savior was heading to the cross to lay down his life for the filthy, morally bankrupt, religiously void tax collector so that he might justify him by faith alone. This is what distinguishes between one who is saved and one who perishes.

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Parable Of The Pharisee And The Tax Collector Lessons

There are several important messages for each of us in this parable. These messages are as applicable to us today as they were when Jesus spoke them.

We have righteous people today in the form of ministers, church leaders, and devout Christians who read the Bible, attend church regularly, and give to the poor. And we certainly have those, like the tax collector, who outwardly sin, such as prostitutes, murderers, rapists, and other criminals.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican has a message for all of us. Four major lessons are spelled out below.

The Powerful Meaning Of Luke 1: 9

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The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is a surprising story full of plot twists and rich spiritual truths. The meaning of Luke 18:9-14 is one that we shouldnt ignore.

The problem is we often miss the shocking nature of this parable because its become so commonplace. We tend to immediately associate the Pharisees with self-righteous hypocrites and tax collectors as the model of righteous.

But in Jesus day it was reversed. It was the Pharisees who were the models of righteous and the tax collectors who epitomized sinners. When Jesus told this parable it was a shock to his audience and surely made a lasting impact.

Lets take a fresh look at the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector and see how the Luke 18:9-14 meaning applies to our life today.

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The Difference Between The Pharisee And The Tax Collector

Die Bibel in Bildern von Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld. Leipzig: Georg Wigands, 1860. Hathi Digital Trust Library online version of a copy in the Getty Library, courtesy of

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The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector is the most theological of all Jesus parables. It is the most theological because it deals with the subject that is of most importance to the life of the Christiannamely, how a man or woman, boy or girl is accepted before God.

The irony of this parable is that both of these men were going to the Temple to pray. On face value both of them seemed to be praying to the same God. Both men came to the same place of worship. Both were members of the same covenant community. Both were men of the working class. But thats where the similarity ends.

Jesus loved to draw contrasts in order to drive home kingdom principles and truths. When he sets out these two men, he does so by appeal to their ethical, social and religious standing. The Pharisee was a respected, religious member of the covenant community. The tax collector was a despised and questionable figure in Jewish society. Throughout the gospel records, tax collectors are identified with sinnersa term usually reserved in Jewish society for those known for their sexual immorality.

The Parable Of The Pharisee And The Tax Collector Luke 1: 9

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector is included in only one of the four Gospels in the Bible in the book of Luke, Chapter 18 verses 9-14. This parable is also referred to as The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican . The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, listed below, uses the NIV Bible translation and is taken from

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The Lesson Of The Pharisee And The Tax Collector

Jesus then tells His audience what they needed to learn from this story: I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted .

The tax collector was not justified by any of the deeds of the law, but by his repentant, humble approach before God, by his acknowledgment of sin, and by his faith in God demonstrated by calling upon His mercy for forgiveness.The lesson is that this tax collector went to his home justified . The tax collector was not justified by any of the deeds of the law, but by his repentant, humble approach before God, by his acknowledgment of sin, and by his faith in God demonstrated by calling upon His mercy for forgiveness.

The Bible often speaks of being justified, made free from guilt, by faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law .

Some people think they can be justifiedmade righteous and just and innocent in Gods sightby doing good deeds specified in the law. That was the Pharisees attitude, but it was actually the tax collector who was justified by Gods mercy.

The tax collector repented. He acknowledged he was a sinner and asked for Gods mercy, and he was justified.

The Parable Of The Pharisee And The Tax Collector

Parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee

In this parable, a Pharisee and a tax collector went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee prayed about how good he was, but the tax collector asked for Gods mercy as he was a sinner. Jesus said that it was the tax collector who went home justified before God. He concluded, Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

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Way To Introduce The Story:

Use a fine waterproof marker to draw a face on a balloon. Blow up the balloon slightly so that the balloon looks like the head of a child. Children, let me introduce you to Puffy. Puffy really likes to brag about herself. Sometimes she says things like, Dont I look beautiful today? Sometimes she tells her mum, Mum, you have to buy me lots of presents because I am the nicest person in our whole family. Think of more things Puffy might say to compare herself with others. and keep adding more air until the balloon finally pops. Oh, no, Puffy just thought too much of herself. She spent too much time trying to compare herself with others. In todays lesson, Jesus talks about a man who liked to compare himself with other people. Lets learn about this parable . . .top

Dont Look Down On Others

The Pharisees focused on upholding Jewish tradition to the letter of the law. They cared about how others perceived them, so they said and did the things that made them appear righteous and holy. They looked down upon those whose actions didnt match up with their beliefs, in this case, the tax collectors , robbers, evildoers, and adulterers.

Its not that the many ways in which the Pharisees upheld the laws werent good or acknowledged by God, because He does call us to live according to His laws. But the parable emphasizes and contrasts the humble, heartfelt, and apologetic plea of the tax collector. His simple, yet genuine contrite prayer exemplifies the sincerity and heartfelt relationship that God wants with all of us.

The Pharisees mistakenly scoffed at the tax collector when he actually had a more sincere relationship with God than they did.

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Allowing God To Exalt Us

From our vantage point, its relatively easy to make judgments about whos good and whos bad. But from Gods perspective, there isnt a lot of difference. And the only distinction that genuinely matters is based on who have humbled themselves before Him. In the end, we arent welcomed into the kingdom because of our works. Instead, it is Gods gracious gift of the cross that allows us to enjoy His favor.

And when we humble ourselves before Him, He lifts us up.

Sometimes we all struggle with unloving generalizations that allow us to elevate ourselves above others. If youre interested in learning more about how you can have fruitful dialogues with people who are different, check out the post 3 Unhelpful Assumptions We Make about Non-Christians.

What Is Humility Sunday School Lesson For Kids

Modern Retellings Of The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector ...

Young children may not yet befamiliar with worrying about public prayer, but they have certainly encounteredboasting and bragging. This lesson looks at the parable of the Pharisee and taxcollector to discuss the meaning and importance of humility, and remindsstudents that our prayers and our lives should be focused on God.

Lesson focus: When we brag about how great we think we are, it places all of theattention on our own power, and neglects the importance of Gods work in ourlives. We should in humility focus on Christ first and foremost, and rememberthat our strength comes from Him.

Passage: Luke 18:9-14 James 4:10 Matthew 6:7-13 1 Corinthians 1:30-31

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Parable Of The Pharisee And The Tax Collector

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector is sometimes referred to as the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican . This parable is found in the New Testament of the Bible, in the book of Luke 18: 9-14. In the parable, a Pharisee and tax collector both pray to God. The Pharisee approaches God with a self-righteous attitude whereas the tax collector approaches God with a repentant and humble heart. God is more pleased with the humble heart of the tax collector than the prideful heart of the Pharisee.

Ways To Tell The Story:

This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.

Be selective. Each teacher is unique so only use the illustrations that best relate to the way YOU are telling the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.

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One Was A Prayer Of Self

In reality, the Pharisee was so consumed with his own accomplishments that he self-righteously looked down at the tax collector whereas, the tax collector was so consumed with acknowledging his own sin and his need for Gods mercy that he didnt have time to evaluate the Pharisee . The Pharisee prayed with himself the tax collector cried out to God. The Pharisee outlined his accomplishments the tax collector summed up all of his actions when he confessed to God that he was the sinner! One was a prayer of self-congratulation, and one was a prayer of self-abasement.

The end result: The Pharisee went home still in his sins, and the tax collector went home as justified before God because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to him by faith alone. Eric Alexanderobserves, The way of merit and the way of good works may take a man like this into the Temple, but it will never take him into Heaven.

The Meaning Of Luke 1: 9

Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Now that weve looked at the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, lets look at what the meaning of Luke 18:9-14 is for us today.

In the last verse of this parable Jesus tells us what the application is: I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Luke 18:14

Ironically both men got what they prayed for. The tax collector humbly asked for mercy, and he received it. The Pharisee asked for nothing because he thought that he already had it all, and he received nothing.

The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector shows us whose prayers God respects. Its not those who appear righteous and exalt themselves, but rather those who humble themselves because they see how sinful they really are.

The reversal of this story doesnt seem shocking to us today as it would have for Jesus audience. But it should, at least a little bit.

We like to point the finger at the Pharisee, but the reality is we probably have a little of his attitude in our hearts as well. And this parable should cause us to pause and reflect, who are we more like?

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There Are Several Dangers To Avoid When Reading This Parable

When we look at the picture of these two men, we might align ourselves with the tax collector and fall into the error of concluding that God is commending a sinful life rather than a life of devotion. Alexander again observes,

What Jesus condemns in the Pharisee is not his righteousness but his self-righteousness and what Jesus commends in the publican, or tax gatherer, is not that he is a sinner but that he is a repentant sinner who is crying to God for mercy. For what this parable is really contrasting is two ways of salvation, the way of merit and the way of mercy, the way of good works and the way of free grace.

The other danger is to fall into the same error of the Pharisee from the side of the tax collector. We can easily start to despise the Pharisee in a similar self-righteous manner as the Pharisee despises the tax collector. J. Gresham Machen explained,

No doubt we think we can avoid the Pharisees error. God was not for him, we say, because he was contemptuous toward the publican we will be tender to the publican, as Jesus taught us to be, and then God will be for us. It is no doubt a good idea it is well that we are tender toward the publican. But what is our attitude toward the Pharisee? Alas, we despise him in a truly Pharisaical manner. We go up into the temple to pray we stand and pray thus with ourselves: God I thank thee that I am not as other men are, proud of my own righteousness, uncharitable toward publicans, or even as thisPharisee.

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