Audience: Trust in themselves and those who regard others with contempt
Parable: Pharisee vs Tax Collector
As people with a strong work ethic it is hard to get to the heard of this passage.
• We celebrate those who pull themselves up by their own boot straps
• We value those folks who follow the rules and don’t buck the system.
• We encourage good behavior and clean living.
• We reward perfect attendance.
We hear about this fellow who tithes and fasts and we want to give him a medal.
Who find’s God’s love and power in the story?
The one who already knows or who dares to come in.
We know folks who say things like:
• I’ve already got that Jesus thing covered.
• I’ve already been baptized, confirmation. I go to church all the time.
• I love God and Jesus, but not the church.
Faith is important but my work, family, money, time are more important at the moment.
Which gets us to the heart of God?
Spiritual trust or Mental decision or Good Behavior?
Is it something I do or something God is doing through the Spirit in me?
I believe this is where most Church folks get tripped up.
We are taught give our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness as member vows.
These are good and important things.
But these do not make us Christian or Methodist or even faithful on their own.
The are our RESPONSE to Christ first being in our lives, not what we do to earn our way in.
A second part of this passage is who DESERVES to be with God?
Those who do acts-of-piety or those who stumble in from the place of sin?
Fast 2x week, tithe with pride vs One who steals from the poor.
Look what I can do vs. Don’t look at what I have done
Q: Why does the tax collector come to the temple to pray in the first place, if they feel so unworthy?
A: The difference between the two who came to prayer is that one come only out of pride or habit, the other comes to worship.
For all that effort on the part of the dutiful leader, the had come for themselves.
The tax collector had come looking for God.
A Third part is the passage is the value of self and others.
God I thank you that I am not like other people.
You can feel better know there is someone out there worse off than you.
At least I’m not as bad off as (fill in the blank)
• Q: Who does God celebrate most, One lost or 99 who know better?
• A: The shepherd finding the One rejoices and celebrates with friends.
Finally is the core teaching of this text:
Reward comes to the humble.
The proud already have the reward they will receive.
One could read this passage and say:
• “it doesn’t matter if I do good.”
• “I don’t have to fast, tithe or come regularly to church.”
• “I want to take the publican – the tax collector plan and come when I need to come.”
JUSTIFICATION: Good Methodist Word – Christ’s work saving Us.
But here is the heart of the text… once we experience humility we find the door to God’s heart. All the faithful practices of the church and faith and traditions become our response to finding God.
• Tithing is not something we are born doing.
• Fasting goes against our physical programming.
• The church is called to be Christ’s body on earth made up of sinful folks like us.
SO WHAT: Mulligan time, come as you are. Practice Lord have mercy on me a sinner. Lawd, Hav’ Me Cry.. Lawd, Have Me become 2nd & you 1st.
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’
13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
–NRSV Luke 18:9-14