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The Two Worshippers

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Luke 18:9–14 NKJV
9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 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!’ 14 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.”
Luke
The Pharisee and the Publican (, COL p150)

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

Do you recall the Parable we talked about a couple of weeks ago?
I know it seems like a life time ago.
It was the “Parable of the Persistent Widow”.
Do you recall the key learning from that parable?
The key point of that Parable was in its very first verse,
It was in the very first verse?
Let us read it together,
(Slide)
Luke 18:1 NKJV
1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
That Parable is all about prayer and not losing heart.
I hope we are all continuing with that key lesson from Jesus.
(Slide)
Jesus then immediately

The Two Worshippers

After this, Jesus, as recorded in Luke, immediately tells another parable.
Also involving Prayer.
It is commonly known as The Parable of “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector”.
We just read it and it is our topic for today.

Two Characters

Again, we have the comparison of the behaviour of two characters in the parable.
Last time, it was the unjust Judge and a Persistent widow.
This time, it is a self-righteous Pharisee and a humble Tax Collector.
This is not by accident.
Jesus is being very intentional, contemporary and comparative in His parable telling.
To get a key point over to His listeners.
Almost by showing one extreme against another.

Two Main Points

Again, We have the main and plain teaching of the parable stated right at the beginning.
This is very “Lukan”.
Luke 18:1 NKJV
1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
Luke starts with,
(Slide)
Luke 18:9 NKJV
9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
The NET bible puts it like this,
Luke 18:9 NET
9 Jesus also told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else.
The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: Luke The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector (18:9–14)

What is most dangerous about pride is noted right at the start. First, we come to trust in our own abilities rather than trusting God. Second, we come to regard other people with contempt and disrespect rather than seeing them as created equal in the image of God.

The dangers of “Religious Pride” or “Religious Elitism” are called out,
Trusting in our abilities, in our works of righteousness, as merit before God.
Regarding others with contempt and disrespect rather than as created equal in the image of God. Looking down on them.
One wonders if Jesus retold this Parable who the object of the Pharisee prayers would be?
Those BR

The Pharisee

Jesus begins His Parable,
(Slide)
Luke 18:10–12 NKJV
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’
:10

The Pharisees

the Pharisees believed in the resurrection, the existence of angels and demons (20:27; ), predestination as well as free will, and the validity of both the written and the oral law.
Who were the Pharisees?
You probably know, they were the largest, most influential group of religious leaders at the time of Jesus .
Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 175). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
They believed
In the Resurrection (unlike the Sadducees, hence the name Sad…)
he existence of angels and demons, predestination as well as free will, and the validity of both the written and the oral law.
In the existence of Angels and Demons.
In Predestination and Free Will.
In the validity of both the Written and the Oral law.
Most “Teachers of the Law” were Pharisees.
The Pharisee stood, the normal posture for prayer. (Wailing Wall)
The Apostle Paul, is probably the most famous former Pharisee.
He called himself a ? “Pharisee of the Pharisees”
In many ways that description also applies to the Pharisee in Jesus Parable.

“The Pharisee Stood and Prayed”

(Point at text in slide)
The Pharisee stood and prayed.
The Pharisee stood, the normal posture for prayer. (Wailing Wall)
This was the normal posture for prayer.
This prayer has nothing to do with God.
Visit to the Wailing Wall
At sunset Friday Evening.
Men vs Woman.
Stood and Prayed.
I did not see anyone kneel!
It starts with Thanksgiving.

“The Pharisee Stood and Prayed” (Continued)

If the Lord’s prayer is the model prayer, then the Pharisee’s prayer is the anti type.
What we should avoid at all cost.
The mention of God in his prayer is a formality.
The prayer is basically a self eulogy.
The Thanksgiving is all about himself relative to others.
A review of his moral résumé.
Hence the title of this sermon, “Two Worshippers”
One worshipped himself.
His Comparing

"God, I thank you that I am not like other men”

(Point at text in slide)
The first three words are good, and then it spirals down hill.

God, I thank You that I am not like other men

The first three words are good, and then it spirals down hill.
God, I thank you that I am better than,
(Point at text in slide)

extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.

Pause
I find myself wondering something. If Jesus told this Parable today, who would be the contemporary groups the Pharisee prays about?
God, I thank you that I am not like,
There is truth in love and then there is
Those Brixiters, those Remainers!
Those Immigrants!
Those Catholics!
The only thing we need

extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’

Those Hindus!
Those Muslims!
Those Evangelicals!
Those SDAs!
Those Beggars on the street!
Those Alcoholics!
God, I thank you that I am better than,
Dare I say it, Those LGBTQ!
You are sensible people, think about it.
This should not be so among the people of the Lord.
It is about the tone, the attitude, the looking down on others!
Why? To raises us up and make us feel better about ourselves.

“I fast twice a week”

The Pharisee continues with his impressive list of works.
The Pharisee continues with his self eulogy.

A “fast” would generally involve going without food or drink from sunrise to sunset.

(Point at text in slide)

12 I fast twice a week

Fasting would generally involve going without food or drink from sunrise to sunset.
Muslims do this during the month of Ramadan.
I,

fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.

This Pharisee did it twice a week.
Fasting can be a useful practice.
When combined with pray and time set aside with the Lord.
I have used it, not much and not for long, and always in the context of a time of prayer and devotion over some matter.
Lake Tahoe
Some years back I needed to get away for some time alone.
With the permission of my wife, I went up to Lake Tahoe, found an old rustic room, overlooking the Lake.
It was about an 90 minutes from our home in North California.
I spent the whole time reading the Beatitudes and having special Prayer.
That experience led me to write down 4 purposes or principles for my life, that I still recite on most days.
I firmly believe that if I had not taken that time, I would not be standing before you today.

“I fast twice a week” (continued)

Or for outward displays before people.
There is a place for fasting and special prayer.
I highly recommend it.
But Jesus condemns Fasting
As a means of trying to get merit with God.
Or for outward displays of piety before people.
Matthew 23:23 NKJV
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

“I give Tithes of all that I Posses”

(Point at text in slide)

I give tithes of all that I possess.

The Pharisee went above and beyond in the matter of tithing.
This implies he tithed everything that came into his possession.
But his attitude to others, his looking down on others, including their giving, invalidity his whole tithing!
(Slide)
Matthew 23:23 NKJV
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
It is interesting that Jesus says, “These you ought to have done”.
The Lord wants us to Tithe, but with a joyful, grateful, humble and thankful hearts.
We need it. It is for our benefit.
This Pharisee went above and beyond in his religious duties.
Not for a comparison to others.
To help wrestle our affections from all our stuff!

A Pharisee and the Pharisees

The Prayer is a review of his moral résumé.
We can assume the Pharisee is praying out loud.
Again I find myself wondering, if Jesus told this Parable today, what contemporary works would the Pharisee list?
Perhaps,
It is really directed at himself.
Tithing! For sure. I don’t rob God, like others!
Sabbath Keeping! I keep Sunset to Sunset, to the minute, not like those others!
Dare I say, Vegetarianism! Not like those flesh pot eaters.
And directed at the Tax Collector, as he mentions him personally.
Tithing, Sabbath Keeping, even Vegetarianism, are good things.
But trusting in them as credit before God is an insult to God and the Cross!
And comparing ourselves to others in these things is not wise, but prideful.

Mrs White writes in “Faith and Works”, Page 24,

I would like to read something from Mrs White.
I think it is very helpful in this matter.
It is a-bit long but please stay with me.
It is taken from her book, “Faith and Works”
Faith and Works Creature Merit

I ask, How can I present this matter as it is? The Lord Jesus imparts all the powers, all the grace, all the penitence, all the inclination, all the pardon of sins, in presenting His righteousness for man to grasp by living faith—which is also the gift of God. If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason. Standing in the presence of their Creator and looking upon the unsurpassed glory which enshrouds His person, they are looking upon the Lamb of God given from the foundation of the world to a life of humiliation, to be rejected of sinful men, to be despised, to be crucified. Who can measure the infinity of the sacrifice!

Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. And any works that man can render to God will be far less than nothingness. My requests are made acceptable only because they are laid upon Christ’s righteousness. The idea of doing anything to merit the grace of pardon is fallacy from beginning to end. “Lord, in my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.”

Faith and Works Creature Merit

I ask, How can I present this matter as it is? The Lord Jesus imparts all the powers, all the grace, all the penitence, all the inclination, all the pardon of sins, in presenting His righteousness for man to grasp by living faith—which is also the gift of God. If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason. Standing in the presence of their Creator and looking upon the unsurpassed glory which enshrouds His person, they are looking upon the Lamb of God given from the foundation of the world to a life of humiliation, to be rejected of sinful men, to be despised, to be crucified. Who can measure the infinity of the sacrifice!

Only those who possess a false confidence in their own righteousness look down at others.

The mention of God in his prayer is really nothing but a formality.
“I ask, how can I present this matter as it is? The Lord Jesus imparts all the powers, all the grace, all the penitence, all the inclination, all the pardon of sins, in presenting His righteousness for man to grasp by living faith— which is also the gift of God. If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason. Standing in the presence of their Creator and looking upon the unsurpassed glory which enshrouds His person, they are looking upon the Lamb of God given from the foundation of the world to a life of humiliation, to be rejected of sinful men, to be despised, to be crucified. Who can measure the infinity of the sacrifice!” (White, E. G. (1979). Faith and Works (p. 24)).
Faith and Works Creature Merit

I ask, How can I present this matter as it is? The Lord Jesus imparts all the powers, all the grace, all the penitence, all the inclination, all the pardon of sins, in presenting His righteousness for man to grasp by living faith—which is also the gift of God. If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason. Standing in the presence of their Creator and looking upon the unsurpassed glory which enshrouds His person, they are looking upon the Lamb of God given from the foundation of the world to a life of humiliation, to be rejected of sinful men, to be despised, to be crucified. Who can measure the infinity of the sacrifice!

Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. And any works that man can render to God will be far less than nothingness. My requests are made acceptable only because they are laid upon Christ’s righteousness. The idea of doing anything to merit the grace of pardon is fallacy from beginning to end. “Lord, in my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.”

This prayer has nothing to do with God.

I am just better

It is basically a self eulogy.
The Prayer is a review of his moral résumé.
I am just better
Those who possess a false confidence in their own righteousness look down at others.
For this Pharisee, and for all modern day Pharisees,
The church is lucky to have them.
God is lucky to have them.
If only others had the commitment they had!
Proud and Loud. Self deceived, self trusting and condescending. Patronising, superior, snobbish, scornful, disdainful, lofty, lordly, haughty, imperious, arrogant and domineering.
Self deceived, self trusting and condescending. Patronising, superior, snobbish, scornful, disdainful, lofty, lordly, haughty, imperious, arrogant and domineering.
Patronising, superior, snobbish, scornful, disdainful, lofty, lordly, haughty, imperious, arrogant and domineering.
He despised those sinners.

Since his prayer is really a review of his moral résumé, directed both at advertising his own righteousness and exposing the perversion of the tax collector, whom he actually mentions in his prayer, the latter option seems preferable. If this is the case, then the Pharisee’s mention of God is really nothing more than a formality.

He looked down on them.
As one commentator put it,

Only those who possess a false confidence in their own righteousness look down at others.

The Pharisee.
The Theologians of Jesus’s day.
“The Shepherd and Teacher of the People”.
(Pause)
Do we see anything of ourselves here? Let us examine ourselves.

The Tax Collector

Luke 18:
Then we come to the prayer of the Tax Collector.
The second Worshipper.
(Slide)
You put in the modern equivalent.
Luke 18:13 NKJV
13 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!’
The most
Eating with “Tax Collectors and Sinners”
Luke 18:13 NKJV
13 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!’
His physical stance is telling and compelling.
He would not even come into church among all those “saints”

“Standing afar off”

(Point at text in slide)

standing afar off

His physical stance is telling and compelling.
(Slide)
I wonder if Jesus is picturing him In the Court of the Gentiles?
He probably would have been in the Court of the Gentiles.
Since Tax Collectors typically were ostracised as “collaborators with the Romans”.

The court of Gentiles might be more likely, since tax collectors typically were ostracized as collaborators with the Romans.

Unlike the Pharisee, who probably would have been in the Israelites Courtyard.
Passed the Woman’s Courtyard.
The Temple at this time was full of walls and divisions.
Is it any wonder that Paul writes how Jesus has removed in His body, which is the New Temple, the New Church, all these walls of separation!
He would not even come into church among all those “saints”

“His eyes lowered”

(Point at text in slide)
(Slide)
(Point at text in slide)

would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven

Luke 18:13 NKJV
13 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!’
(Point at text in slide)

would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven

A normal posture of prayer (see Psa 123:1). The avoidance of such a posture reflects shame from sin.

Eyes lifted up was a normal posture of prayer
We read in ,
Psalm 123:1 NKJV
1 Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens.
The avoidance of such a posture reflects his shame from sin.

“He Beat his breast”

(Point at text in slide)

but beat his breast

This talks to the sincerity of his heart.
(Demonstrate)
Demonstrate it! I picture it like this..
The Sinfulness of Sin
Let me ask you something.
Have you ever been there in your experience before the Lord?
In the very presence of our living and holy God.
Where all we can do is mourn the sinfulness of sin in our hearts.
This not about comparing ourselves to others, but looking at Jesus.
It is the total realisation of just how undeserving we are before God.

“God, be merciful to me a sinner”

It will always results in a humble and simple prayer for forgiveness.
(Point at text in slide)

humble call for forgiveness

“God, be merciful to me a sinner”
“God, be merciful to me a sinner”
Or I will still rationalising and playong with sin
Have you ever prayed such a prayer?
The reality is that we all need of such a prayer
To wash the whole body or to wash the feet.
Or to wash the feet if you have already had that bath.
The Tax Collector.

Justified

(Slide)
Luke 18:14 NKJV
14 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.”
The Tax Collector went home Justified.
There is nothing in this Parable about the means of Justification.
That is not the point here.
Though it is ironic that God incarnate speaks these words
There is no mention of a changed life.
That is also not the point here.
Though it is ironic that what Jesus is saying is revolutionary.
The point is one went home Justified, the other did not.
And those listening to Jesus would have been amazed, astonished, ....
The key point is that when it comes to Justification before God,
The Traitor
(Point at text in slide)

for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

“Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Do we get that? Do we really understand what Jesus is saying?
When it comes to forgiveness, when it comes to atonement, when it comes to reconciliation with God.
Anyone who thinks they have any merit before God, will be humbled, and anyone who thinks they have no merit before God will be exalted.
It is the complete opposite to how the world thinks.
(Slide)
And unfortunately it is the complete opposite to how many religious people think.

everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Luke 1:53 NKJV
53 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.

for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Jesus wants to send The Pharisee home justified.
“Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 1:53 NKJV
53 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.
(Slide)
Luke 1:53 NKJV
53 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.
Luke 1

Jesus wants to send The Pharisee home justified.

Remember The Elder Brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
God goes out to the Elder Brother as well as the Prodigal!

Specialist Nurse for Alcohol

BBC Report on Alcoholism in the UK
It is on the rise affecting all ages and all demographics. 
In what is called the Gospel (good news) of the OT, Isaiah writes,
Nurse said something that really struck me.
“The more respect you show a patient, and the more dignity you afford them, the more likely you are to increase their motivation to change”
That is exactly how the Lord deals with us!
The more undeserving we are, the more gracious He is.
The Prophet Isaiah says,
Isaiah 42:1–3 NKJV
1 “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. 2 He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. 3 A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.
To the tender hearted, the Lord speaks tender words.
To the bruised heart, the Lord speaks healing words.
Expelled from church
To the heart where the fire is nearly out, the Lord speaks comforting words.
But to the heart full of self, there is nothing that can be said.
But to the heart empty, the Lord fills with good things.
What does your heart need to hear today?
Marginalised in society.
Peter’s Denial
Mark 14:72 NKJV
72 A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.
Luke 22:60–62 NKJV
60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
The OT Gospel of Isaiah
The fifth gospel. The OT gospel. The Prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 42:1–3 NKJV
1 “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. 2 He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. 3 A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.
Visit to Budist Temple
Reminded me of the stance of the Tax Collector.

Saved by Gra

Luke 18:14 NKJV
14 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.”
There a two major doctrines at the heart of the Bible, that come out clearly especially in the writings of the Apostle Paul.
Justification - quote from Mrs White
Sanctification
We need to let them both stand alone in their truth.
Shame

Specialist Nurse for Alcohol

BBC Report on Alcoholism in the UK
It is on the rise affecting all ages and all demographics. 
Some people think Alcoholics don’t deserve treatment.
Terrible place to be.. 
“The more respect you show a patient, and the more dignity you afford them, the more likely you are to increase their motivation to change”
That is exactly how the Lord deals with us!

Bernard Weatherill

John Bercow
Bernard Weatherill was Speaker of the House of Commons for nearly 10 years.
On retiring he was interviewed by the BBC.
The questions turned to how he kept his feet on the ground given all he achieved in life.
He replied,
“Following his mother's advice, he always carried his tailoring thimble in his pocket as a reminder of his trade origins and the need for humility, no matter how high one rises. He said that he desired his epitaph to be "He always kept his word.”

Our Thimble

What is our Thimble? As followers of Jesus?
What keeps our feet firmly on the foundation that Christ has laid for us.
Is it,
We keep the Sabbath?
We pay our tithes?
We don’t eat this is or that?
We can explain all manners of prophecy?
All these are good.
But they are not The Cross!
The Cross!
God, be merciful to me a sinner
That would seem like the right Thimble!
Jesus answer to that simple and humble prayer is always, Yes and Yes and Yes.
The Pharisee was as much in need of forgiveness as the Tax Collect

Our Response

(Pause)
Have you ever really prayed that prayer?
The parable is all about a person who came to the temple daily and yet never prayed such a pray!
God, be merciful to me a sinner
Why not pray it now?
God eagerly desires to be merciful to us in Jesus.
Maybe you have prayed that pray, but for some reason lately it has not been as it should?
A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench!
Let him fill those hungry and thirsty for God with good things.
Why not pray it again?
Get back to the foundation, to the Cross.
Why not now?
Let him fill us with good things. Eternal things.
It all starts there.
A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench
Jesus wants to send everyone home justified!
So before our final hymn, Let us take a couple of minutes of quiet before the Lord. Let us all examine ourselves in the light of the mercy of Christ and the Cross!
Let us have a short time of quiet before the Lord and let us all examine oursleves
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