The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

R. A. Torrey suggested that this parable is an illustration of a “good” man (the Pharisee) who was lost and a “bad” man (the tax collector) who was saved and it is in this light we will look at the parable today.

Luke 18:9-14  And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  10  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.  11  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  12  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.  13  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.  14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

  1. Why Was the Pharisee Not Accepted by God?
  2. Because he trusted in religion to save him.

i) The Pharisees were the strictest and most religious sect among the Jews. But it was outward show.

The Pharisees had been around about 150 years

Were the largest Jewish sect

Started as the most holy, strictly following all the Law but had degenerated by time of Jesus There were still good members, such as Nicodemus (John Ch. 3), but many held their trust wrongly in self, not God

Words to describe them include: self-righteous, corrupt, hypocritical, office-seeking, proud class of men who wore broad phylacteries, and enlarged the fringe or borders of their garments; they loved the chief rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues. They were showy in their religious worship, praying on the corners of the streets, and looking for recognition in the giving of alms. They sought mainly external cleanliness, and partook in many ceremonial cleansings and washing.

Matthew 23:5  But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

ii) There is no salvation in religion: not in Hinduism, or Judaism, or Catholicism, or Protestantism.

John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

iii) Salvation is in a Person: the Lord Jesus Christ

Acts 4:12  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

  1. Because he trusted in his good character to save him.

i) Good character cannot save.

Rom 3:20    Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Galatians 2:16  Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

ii) There is only one way to be saved, and morality is not that way (as noted in above verses).

  1. Because he trusted religious rites and ceremonies.

i) Religious observances alone can never save the soul and justify us before God.

We can pray, do good works, attend every service, be baptized, etc, but without accepting Jesus as your Savior and having a personal relationship with Him it’s all for naught.

Ephesians 2:8-9  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

  1. Why Was the Tax Collector Accepted by God?
  2. Because he stood before God as a lost sinner.

Isaiah 53:6 tells us all have gone astray and Isa 64:6 says our righteousness is as filthy rags

i) He acknowledged God is the Holy One and condemned himself as unholy

I can imagine him saying something like:

Isaiah 6:5  Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

ii) The Pharisee compared himself to other men, but the tax collector compared himself to God, or saw himself as God does (cf. Ps. 4012 and Ps. 51:9).

Micah 7:18  Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

  1. Because he pleaded the merit of Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

i) He prayed, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner.” So he really pleaded for salvation on the ground of His finished work at Calvary.

ii) The Pharisee prayed: “Something in my hand I bring; simply to myself I cling!”; But the tax collector prayed: “Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to Thy Cross I Cling!”

1 Timothy 1:15  This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

  1. Because he definitely asked God to save him

Romans 10:13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Today it’s no different: No matter how good or moral we think we are, compared to God Almighty we are nothing, worse than nothing – we are without hope, clinging to ourselves, like the Pharisee, instead of the immovable Rock. But if we will humble ourselves, and see how God sees us, like the publican did, we can have saving grace and instantly be a part of the Kingdom of God.

Romans 14:17  For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.



One thought on “The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

  1. Pingback: In pursuit of peace and holiness | daily meditation

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