It has been such a fun summer walking through the parables of Jesus at #FishermensClub at #Htownkids . I pray that the kids are learning half as much as I am in preparing these lessons. Here are the parables that we have covered so far.
The essence of the previous parables is:
- Hear the Word of God
- Understand the Word of God
- Realize who you really are
- Realize your genuine need for God
- Repent – have your mind changed that leads to a heart change that produces a lifestyle change.
- Obey the Word of God
- Love others
- Share God’s Word with others
This week’s lesson is along those same lines. We have two very different men, both of whom are sinners. The biggest difference between the two is that one knows he is a sinner and the other does not want to admit who he really is. In order to understand this lesson, let’s take a look at Luke 18. In order to understand fully the message that Jesus delivers, we must pay attention to the audience. This gives us a clue to what Jesus’ message means. The first thing that we learn about them is that they are proud. They are not humble. They trust in themselves and do not feel like they need help getting to God. They do not see their need for repentance. Not only that, they look down on others because when they can put others down, they life themselves up. This sets up the parable.
I. The Pharisee
The Pharisee goes to the temple to pray, not because he wants to meet with God and talk to Him. He goes to the temple to impress others. When in the temple, he prays. The problem is, he prays to himself instead of praying to God. The first thing is that he “thanks” God that he is not like other people. He believes that he is special. He lists the bad things that he does not do (or at least he has not been caught doing them, yet). He moves from the list of bad things that he does not do, to the list of good things (in his own mind) that he does do. This man fasts twice a week and he tithes on everything that he makes. He has no need for God and he does not care about the people around him. He is not right with God and he does not get right with God. He never repents. He comes and leaves the same way spiritually. Like the rich man in the previous parable, this man is on his way to eternal suffering and punishment.
II The tax collector
The tax collector is a sinner, just like the Pharisee. The difference between the tax collector and the Pharisee is that the tax collector knows that he is a sinner. He does not try and put up a front. He goes to the temple to pray just like the Pharisee. The difference is, the tax collector goes to meet with God. The tax collector is humble. He does not want to raise his head and look up because of his shame over his sin. He mentions noting of his good works. The only thing he does is beg God for mercy. Mercy means not getting what you deserve. The tax collector deserves punishment for his sins. If he is anything like Zacchaeus, then he used his job to cheat and swindle people out of their money. He became rich by taking advantage of the people around him. Not only did God show mercy to the tax collector, He also showed grace. If mercy means not getting what you deserve, grace means getting what you do not deserve. The tax collector did not deserve to be made right with God but that is exactly what God did for him. We see repentance and life change exemplified here.
My dear friend, do you identify more with the Pharisee or the tax collector. Are you a humble person or a proud person? Do you see your need for God? Do you ask God for mercy and grace or share all of your accomplishments with Him? Do you love the people around you or do you look down on others? May the Lord help us understand His Word and live by It daily.