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The Pharisee and the Publican Luke 18:9-14 Thesis:...

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The Pharisee and the Publican

Luke 18:9-14

Thesis:                 The aim of this sermon is to teach the audience that we must approach God humbly in seeking justification.


A.         Today’s lesson is based on the parable of Jesus found in Luke 18:9-14 - the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.

B.         Notice to whom Jesus originally spoke this parable.

1.        “To certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous.”

a.         In short, Jesus spoke to self-righteous people.

b.        They were convinced that they were righteous in God’s sight, but that conviction was based on their own standard, not God’s!

2.        These same people were known to despise others. 

           a.        The word despised, as used here means to despise utterly; to treat with contempt or as


           b.        Self-righteousness and contempt for others are closely allied.

3.          So we see that these self-righteous people put themselves on a pedestal, and counted all others as nothing.

C.         Because at times we all can be classed among these self-righteous people to some extent, we need to study the teachings of this parable.

D.         Let us enter into this study by noting the points of contrast:

1.        A difference in the men.

2.        A difference in the approaches to prayer.

3.        A difference in the prayers.

4.        A difference in the results of their prayers.

I.          A Difference In The Men

               A.            These two men represented the extremes in Judaism.

                               1.        The one stood at the pinnacle of holiness.

           2.        The other was considered to be a wicked outcast.

              B.            The Pharisee (Matthew 23)

            1.           They had taken on the exalted role of Moses by legislating traditions to the Jewish


            2.           They were known for an outwardly strict observance of the Law, but inwardly they were


               a.            They broadened their phylacteries.

               b.            They lengthened the tassels of their garments.

               c.            They tithed very scrupulously.

               d.            Yet they did all these things to be seen of men, not to glorify God.

            3.           They loved to be exalted by the people and to be called Rabbi.

            4.           They loved the chief seats in the synagogues and at banquets.

            5.           Yet, the Pharisees were highly regarded by their fellow Jews who did not see their hypocrisy. They were educated and convinced the masses that they were holy.

             C.              The Publican

           1.            The publicans were tax collectors hired by the Roman government.

           2.            They were counted as traitors by the Jews who considered Rome as her oppressor.

           3.            In addition, they were hated because of the harshness, greed, and deception that usually

                          characterized them.

              a.            They usually required more taxes than the government levied and pocketed the difference.

                b.           They stooped to the lowest levels to get the money.

               D.            We can imagine the inward thoughts of the self-right­eous people to whom Jesus spoke. Immediately their sympathy was with the Pharisee.

II.          A Difference In The Approaches To Prayer

               A.            “The Pharisee stood and prayed with himself.”

            1.        Standing was the usual position in which the Jews prayed, but as the word is used here, it probably indicates that the Pharisee stood in a conspicuous place, as did the hypocrite described in Matthew 6.

            2.        We can visualize this man standing close to the sanctuary of the temple surrounded by many people who had assembled at the temple for this hour of prayer.

            3.        The text indicates that he prayed with himself. Knowing the general character of the Pharisee it is likely that he took a very pious stance with his head thrown back, his face looking to heaven, and prayed under his breath, moving his lips just enough so that the people around him could see his actions.

           B.                “The publican, standing afar off, would not even lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast.”

            1.        This publican was evidently a Jew and was within the temple sanctuary court, for the Pharisee made mention of him in his prayer; but he was not stand­ing in the limelight, but was off by himself as much as possible.

            2.        With his head bowed and showing his mourning spirit, he beat upon his breast as was customary of mourners at funerals, and he did this as long as he prayed.

               3.        Surely his soul was in anguish.

III.            A Difference In The Prayers

             A.       The Pharisee prayed, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are.”

           1.      He said that he was not as other men outwardly.

              a.         He was not an extortioner, nor unjust, nor an adulterer.

              b.        There is nothing wrong with thanking God for granting us our virtues, but only when we recognize our unworthiness due to our in­finite shortcomings.

            2.     He also reminded God of his exceptional acts of piety.

            a.        He fasted twice in the week when only one fast per year was required.

            b.        He gave tithes of all that he possessed.

            3.     It seems that he was trying to put God in his debt.

             B.       The publican prayed, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner.”

            1.        This man in recognition of his unworthiness, went humbly to God.

            2.        He called himself “the sinner.”

              a.         The KJV reads “a sinner” but the original text reads “the sinner.” This is the main point of contrast in the parable.

            b.        The Pharisee thought of others as sinners; the publican thought of himself alone as the sinner, not others at all.

            3.        His anguished soul turned to God for forgiveness.



IV.       A Difference In The Results Of Their Prayers

               A.            The Pharisee was not justified.

            1.        The Pharisee only carried on a soliloquy with his own soul, a complacent recital of his own virtues for his self-satisfaction, not for fellowship with God.

            2.        He thought himself to be right with God, but God could see through him. (“And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves be­fore men; But God knoweth your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomin­ation in the sight of God” Luke 16:15.)

            3.        You can fill only an empty jug with water. A man whose heart is full of haughtiness receives no blessings into his heart; that is reserved for the heart emptied of self.

               B.            The publican was justified.

            1.        To be justified, he must have truly rep­ented. (Zaccheus was a publican who repented - Luke 19:8)

            2.        The Publican did not deserve forgiveness on account of his submissive prayer, but through his humble confession of guile he was in con­dition to receive the forgiveness granted by God to the penitent.




I.          And so we see the meaning of the maxim: “For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

A.       The Pharisee who exalted himself with haughtiness and self-pride will be humbled by Christ at the judgment.

B.        The Publican who cast himself on the mercy of God, recognizing his unworthiness will be ex­alted - raised to honor at the judgment.

II.        All men must humble themselves to God, for all men sin.

A.       When Christians approach God in prayer we must be careful to cast out the Phariseeism that is in us and humble ourselves to God, beseeching his mercy.

B.        Non—Christians must also humble themselves to God by becoming Christians.

1.         Believe, repent, confess, and be baptized.

                              2.         Doing this does not cause you to deserve forgiveness and justification, but through this                                           humble obedience, and only this way, can you be in the condition to receive God’s grace. 

                   C.       We must all recognize how helpless we are without God’s grace.


           1.           We never deserve his grace.

           2.           Yet He will grant mercy to those who cast them­selves humbly at His feet.

           3.           He will forgive us if we will cast off all pride and take on the sense of total dependence.

           4.           Non—Christians, go down to your house justified!

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