May 4, 1994
Stories can mystify, charm, and surprise us—especially ones with an unexpected twist. Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is one such story. In it, two men—one outwardly righteous, another keenly aware of his sin—offer two different prayers, with unexpected results. As Alistair Begg notes, perceptions and rewards aren’t always what we anticipate. Humbly recognizing our distance from God, it turns out, is the first step in bringing us closer to Him.
9He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed1 thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Copyright © 2023, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.