Pastor's Sunday School Blog
Sunday School Lesson
“The Pharisee and the Tax Collector”
July 2, 2017
Jesus often used parables, earthly illustrations, to teach spiritual truths. Parables are illustrations, word pictures, and stories familiar to the hearer’s context meant to reveal spiritual truths and scriptural principals.
“Pharisee” – Devoutly religious, strict adherent to the Law of Moses, judges of what “is right and wrong”, highly respected as religious leaders… READ Matthew 23:13-33 to gain insight into Christ’s opinion of the Pharisees.
“Tax Collector” – Worked for the Roman government collecting taxes from the Jewish people; worked for a percentage of the taxes collected and/or by charging a rate above the taxes owed despised by the Jews, often considered by the Jews as traitors and dishonest …
The parable of the “Pharisee and the Publican” condemns self-righteousness” and self-exaltation by comparing oneself to another (You can always appear to be better than you are by comparing yourself to someone else’s fault/failures.
Keep in mind as you study this parable that the only standard by which anyone is judged is the perfections of God. That’s why Paul writes, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory (perfect standard) of God” (Romans 3:23).
Remember: “There is none righteous (that is righteous enough), no, not one” (Romans 3:10). And “there is none that doeth good (that is good enough), no, not one” (Romans 3:12)
God as the standard leaves no room for anyone boast … it strips one of pride and arrogance
God resists the proud (James 4:6) and God exalts the humble … “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up” (James 4:10).
This parable stands as a warning to those who think they are more than they are …“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
The implication of this parable is that anyone who comes to God must humble themselves, and acknowledged their failures and faults, or be rejected by God.
DISCUSS – How do you think this parable is related to “salvation by grace?”
Trying to justify yourself leads you to look down on others (Luke 18:9).
When you see yourself as more than you are it is the result of focusing on the faults of others, in your opinion, worse than yours. I can always find someone worse than me, and think of myself as not as bad as them.
The truth is that there are others whose faults are worse than yours; however, they are not the measuring stick, the standard, God is. And if God is the standard, you don’t measure up.
Sometimes people are guilty of climbing the “ladder of success” on the backs of other’s failures.
Be very careful of the attitude “I am better than you.” Never allow yourself to be condescending … never allow yourself to be guilty of looking down on someone as if you are above them
Church members are often guilty of pointing the finger at someone else’s failures in order to elevate themselves … We are not to compare ourselves to anyone nor present ourselves to others as the standard
Self-righteousness can be disguised by words of gratitude (Luke 18:10-12).
The Pharisee went to “church” to “pray” … He was in the right place doing the right thing, but being and doing doesn’t make one right …
Reminder: Salvation is never a matter of religious activity, but a relationship with God. A relationship with God will produce religious activity …
Jesus makes it clear that the religious activity of the Pharisee was about himself, not God … He was attempting to impress God by what he was doing.
The Pharisee presented himself to God on the bases of the failings of others … Just because you don’t do something someone else does doesn’t make you right with God, AND, on the other hand, if you are doing what you do to impress the Lord, God’s not impressed.
*We privileged to serve the Lord … it is not a matter of trying to gain anything from the Lord … it is an expression of love … “We love Him because He first loved us”
NOTE – We are to see ourselves like Isaiah saw himself (Isaiah 6:5).
Humble pleading for mercy is the mark of Divine grace (Luke 18:13-14).
The Pharisee was rejected by God because he thought himself worthy of God’s admiration … the tax collector was received by God because he acknowledged his unworthiness and need for Divine grace
One was haughty and one was humble
The Truth – If there is any goodness in you, or if you are able to do good works, it is the result of God in you … without God you are nothing and you can do nothing.
God is looking for those who desire no glory for themselves, but live to give Him all the glory and the praise.
Theological Theme: God exalt the humble and humbles the self-exalted… God will not share His glory with anyone.
Christological/Christ Connection: We are sinners in need of a Savior … Jesus died for our sins … We can cry out to God for mercy because of what Jesus did for us.
Missional Application: Living a life of humility is an encouragement to those who need mercy … they realize they have nothing to offer. It is also an example to those who think themselves more than they are.