Luke 18 shows us how to approach our relationship with Jesus: with humility, sincerity, repentance, and childlike dependence, relying on Him for all of our needs. When we are weak, God is faithful (Luke 18:1-8). When we are sinful, God forgives us (Luke 18:9-14). When we are childlike, He is our Father (Luke 18: 15-17). Jesus tells us in Luke 18:1 to “always pray and never give up”.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18: 9-14)
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“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.’
“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.”
Jesus told this parable for thee self righteous, who look down on others, and are judgmental. I’m fairly certain I can speak for all of us when I say that these are traits that we all exhibit at least a few times in our lives, so Jesus is speaking to us.
Why did the Pharisee go to the temple? Pharisees were intent on discrediting Jesus and part of the Sanhedrin who demanded his crucifixion.
Matthew Henry says: “The Pharisee went to the temple to pray because it was a publicplace, more public than the corners of the streets, and therefore he should have many eyes upon him, who would applaud his devotion, which perhaps was more than was expected. The character Christ gave of the Pharisees, that all their works they did to be seen of men, gives us occasion for this suspicion. Note, Hypocrites keep up the external performances of religion only to save or gain credit. There are many whom we see every day at the temple, whom, it is to be feared, we shall not see in the great day at Christ’s right hand.”
So the Pharisee went to the temple for show and spoke empty words, he came to keep up appearances.
Why did the tax collector got to the temple? Tax collectors were the social lepers of the time.
The tax collector came to the temple because it was a place of prayer for all people. He came with sincerity, repentance, humility, and pure intentions. Jesus uses this parable to show that this is how we should approach Him and the church. The tax collector went home “justified before God” (Luke 18:14).
The Little Children and Jesus (Luke 18:15)
People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
The mountains standing in Your strength
The oceans roaring out Your praise
All creation glorifies Your name. -Lyrics from Glory, by Phil Wickham