Luke 18:9-14 (NLT)
9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Tax collectors during this period of time were considered corrupt. Many would add additional taxes for their own gain. Here in this parable Jesus tells us about a religious leader and a tax collector. The religious leader was praising himself for his good acts, while the tax collector humbled himself because of his sins. Jesus said it was the humble tax collector who stood justified before God.
John Grisham wrote a book called The Testament. The story is about a missionary living in the depths of the Brazilian jungle who inherits a large sum of money. Nate O’Reilly is a disgraced lawyer with a personal life of failures. It is O’Reilly’s job to ensure the missionary gets her inheritance. John Grisham reveals O’Reilly’s character as Nate stands alone in a church one night: “With both hands, he clenched the back of the pew in front of him. He repeated the list [of his weaknesses], mumbling softly every weakness and flaw and affliction and evil that plagued him. He confessed them all. In one long glorious acknowledgment of failure, he laid himself bare before God. He held nothing back. He unloaded enough burdens to crush any three men, and when he finally finished Nate had tears in his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he whispered to God. “Please help me.”As quickly as the fever had left his body, he felt the baggage leave his soul. With one gentle brush of the hand, his slate had been wiped clean. (…) He heard the guitar again. He opened his eyes and wiped his cheeks. Instead of seeing the young man in the pulpit, Nate saw the face of Christ, in agony and pain, dying on the cross. Dying for him.” Not only did John Gresham portray a man with a repentant heart, he also pointed to the face of Christ, dying for the sinner. Have you looked towards Christ in your moment of sin? Have you repented and asked for His forgiveness? Pray God would forgive you of past sins. Pray your heart would be clean and justified before God. Thank Christ who died for your sin.