Prayers In The Bible: Pharisee and the Tax Collector by Pastor Gregory Nelson

Posted by Samuel Kadyakale  |  at  15:52 1 comment

Before we go to this parable we need to take a look at how the  temple services were conducted  during the time of Jesus.

Jerusalem temple services took place every afternoon at 3pm. During this service the priest sacrificed a lamb on the high altar in the courtyard. He  made this sacrifice an atonement for sin for the whole nation.

After the usual sprinkling of the blood on the altar and sounding of the trumpets and clashing of cymbals and the singing of the psalm by the congregation the priest would go alone into the sanctuary.

As the priest was inside the sanctuary, the people would take this opportunity to say their own prayers to God. While nowadays we pray silently, in those days people prayed aloud.

In the video below Pastor Gregory Nelson preaches on Jesus' parable about the Pharisee and the Tax collector who went to the temple to pray. The sermon is based on Luke 18:9-14.

The bible says Jesus gave this parable to chastise those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others. To address those people told this parable about a pharisee and the tax collector or publican who went to the temple to worship.

The Pharisee went to the temple not because he felt that he was a sinner and needs God's pardon, but rather because he felt righteous and wanted to receive commendation from God.

To the Pharisee worship is an opportunity or an act of merit that will recommend him to God. He also thinks that by going to the temple people will have a high opinion of him. He therefore goes to the temple prompted by self interest through securing favor with both God and man.

In his prayer the Pharisee compares himself to others such as adulterers etc. He reminds God of the tithes that he has returned and all other good deeds he has done.

He is there to show God his own righteousness and not God's righteousness. While doing that he despises others he considers sinners.

Inspired writings says those who trust in their own righteousness will despise others. They work like Satan, the accuser of the brethren. 

Despising others is the litmus test for determining whether someone is self righteous or trusts in his own righteousness and not God's freely given righteousness.

Noone can ever compare himself to God and feel self righteous. All who have had access to the throne room of God felt a sense of unworthiness and all felt not qualified to be in his presence.

The conduct of the Pharisee is contrasted to that of the other worshipper, the tax collectors. The tax collector of publican knows and feels that he is a sinner. 
Pastor Gregory Nelson

He also knows that others think and feel that he is a sinner too. He goes to the temple not show off his righteousness but to plead to God for mercy.

The bible says the tax collector drew apart from the rest  of the people at the temple as he felt unworthy to mingle with the others. While the Pharisees seeks the attention and the commendation of men, the tax collector feels so unworthy.

The tax collector cannot even look upwards like the rest of the congregants but smote upon his breast in bitter anguish and self abhorrence.

He knows that he has no merit to commend him to God, and in utter despairs cries, "God be merciful to me, a sinner."

Jesus ends this parable by saying that the publican or tax collector went home justified but not the self righteous pharisee. 

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