What is the meaning of the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector?


Luke 18:9 - 14

ESV - 9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in the temple (Luke 18:9-14) is rich with spiritual truth. In fact, it contains the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As verse 9 tells us...

July 01 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

The story of the two worshippers at the temple is one of Jesus' finest lessons. It teaches the value of humility and how one should present one's self in repentance to God. It also teaches how not to present one's self.

I have attended many different denominations in my Christian profession. It's funny that in almost every church there seemed to be that one person proclaiming their righteous lifestyle and their sanctification. God Bless these atoned pillars, but their proclamations caused me to feel unworthy and spiteful.

I must confess my sin of judging these folks, yet this reflects exactly the scenario Jesus conveys in the story. I missed it for a long time. The behaviors of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector are clearly portrayed in scripture. Where I failed to grasp the full meaning was not in what was said and done, but what was NOT said or done.

The Pharisee proclaims his worthiness and exhibits little humility in his statement in prayer to God. Whereas the Tax Collector, in full repentance and sincerity, is concentrating on God's forgiveness. Looking down in humility caused the Tax Collector to focus on his repentance and not the Pharisee's pointing finger. I doubt he even knew the Pharisee was there.

The Tax Collector came in truth to seek God's Grace. He did not look around and evaluate how he compared to others there that day. In other words, the Tax Collector came to see God and focused on He alone.

Now, when I attend worship, if I am attentive to this lesson, I focus on approaching God with only Him in mind. It's hard not to look around and place one's self in the social strata at church, yet, if we heed the lesson told in this story, we will focus on our need for God's Grace and not be concerned with others perceptions. 

Taking the time to judge others at worship depletes the time and value of our own worship. Remove judgement, add humility, and worship in truth that He is faithful to forgive our sins. If God becomes the focus and we present ourselves in truth, God is pleased by our humble praise of his Holy Name.

Dean Donahue, Show Low, Arizona

September 15 2016 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

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