If you click on the verse link (which i suggest you do) It will bring you to the whole chapter, which will be where I’ll be drawing from in this post.
Luke 18 is a fascinating chapter of scripture, we find the widow, the tax collector, and the children. The tax collector I find very convicting. Not only for the content, but the context. Christ specifically told this parable to the ones who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous”.
Jesus has this way of being controversial. And unlike us, He’s perfect at it.
The way the parable goes is that a pharisee goes and prays and thanks God that he’s not like all those other guys like the unjust and the adulterers, and that he’s definitely not like that tax collector (*shudder*) standing over there. He then goes down a list of why he’s better and why God should see him as such, “I tithe! I fast! look at my works, they’re way better than that…Tax collector…”
(side note: Tax collectors were looked down upon in general by society in that day, many would extort the civilians and get far more than their share of the people’s taxes)
*Shift camera angle*
*zoom in on the tax collector*
Head down. Ashamed. Not apparently because of the Pharisee’s scathing glances as the tax collector was “standing far off”. He wouldn’t even lift his head. This man was broken, ashamed, crying out to God in desperation, his heart was repentant before a holy God. But wait. This man had previously done all the things society despises, he was the scum of the earth and everyone knew it. But he cries out in humble repentance, beating his chest as he says: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
He knew he had sinned, he cried out for mercy, mercy meaning he knew he deserved wrath, but he asked God to not give him what he deserved.
Not so for the pharisee. He gave God a laundry list of why he was all that. He did all the “right” things with the wrong heart. His heart was still in rebellion.
But the one who looked good wasn’t the one justified, it was the one who had been driven to his knees because of the desperate wickedness in his heart. But, for the pharisee, he saw no wickedness in his cold heart. He was blind to his own pride.
-For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.