Posts tagged ‘Tax Collector’

How Are We Justified?

When Jesus tells the story of two men who go up to the temple in Jerusalem to pray, He relays two prayers that couldn’t be more different. One man, a Pharisee, prays:

God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. (Luke 18:11-12)

The tax collector, to whom the Pharisee refers in his prayer, is the other person who prays at the temple that day. His prayer consists simply of:

God, have mercy on me, a sinner. (Luke 18:13)

In his prayer, the Pharisee compares himself to other people and judges himself better than them. The tax collector compares himself to God and finds himself infinitely lacking, so he asks for mercy from Him. The Pharisee believes he is like God and unlike other sinners. The tax collector confesses he is utterly unlike God and worse than other sinners.

After describing these two prayers, Jesus declares:

I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. (Luke 18:14)

Jesus says that the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, leaves the justified before God. Why? Because the tax collector looked to the righteousness of God to justify him. The Pharisee only looked at the sinfulness of others and justified himself compared to them. The Pharisee tried to justify himself before God by using others. The tax collector realized if you want to be justified before God, you need to be justified by God.

It is far too easy to try to justify ourselves like the Pharisee tried to justify himself by using others. But true justification comes not by using others, but by trusting Jesus. May we find our justification in the right place – which is in the Righteous One.

November 7, 2022 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


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