Luke 18:13–14: “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

August 28th, 2015 by Pastor Ed in devotional

Jesus told this parable to an audience of people who felt they were righteous and looked down on people they didn’t consider righteous. The parable is about 2 very different men, with very different attitudes, who went to the temple to pray. One was a religious guy, a Pharisee, who throughout his prayer only praised himself; and the other was a tax collector, who was suffering from what many today would call “low self-esteem.” Everything about the tax collector’s posture and behavior spoke of brokenness and humility; how starkly he stands in contrast to the religious Pharisee who exalted himself. Here was a man who had faced the reality of his own sin, and his only response was humble repentance. We notice 4 things about this sinner:

1) he stood afar off;
2) his eyes were focused downward, not even looking toward heaven;
3) he beat his chest; and
4) his prayer was very different from that of the Pharisee.

Because the tax collector stood at a distance, he obviously sensed that he was approaching a holy, perfect God. His eyes, directed downward, spoke of his humility. In beating his chest, he was expressing in that culture, a sign of deep mourning. If someone close to you died, you beat your chest to signify the pain you were experiencing, something close to saying, “My heart hurts over this loss.” The tax collector’s prayer was very short, one of the shortest in the Bible, but also one of the most profound: “God be merciful to me a sinner!” The result? Jesus said that this man, as opposed to the Pharisee, “went down to his house justified” before God.

Humility was the lesson of this parable. Jesus had spoken another parable before this one, which was a lesson on persistence in prayer. Together these 2 parables encourage us to become a person who persistently comes to God, over and over again, in a meek, courteous, and respectful way. Meekly asking God for what we need is both good and right.

“LORD, forgive us of our foolish pride and sin, we humbly ask in Jesus’ name. Amen”