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Do It My Way!

This attitude of ‘doing it my way’ is so aptly demonstrated in the parable Jesus gave in Luke 18:9-14 – The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector. 

Luke 18:9-14 – The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up 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, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  – ESV

In the parable we have two men that are found outside near the Temple.  They are:

He is a Pharisee who considers himself as a leader in Bible education and an example to follow.  He demonstrates that in his posture and the words he speaks with a loud voice so others would hear. Those words would demonstrate his purpose and his high view of himself that he processes.  We see clearly what his objective is in his behavior and words.

He states that he is thankful he is not like other men who are extortioners, unjust, and adulterers.  To make his point of his status and disdain of the person nearby who is a tax collector.  (In history we know that the Jews hated these fellow Jews that betrayed their people and aligned themselves with the Romans.  The tax collector was hated for many things in that he was a person that collected the taxes from his Jewish brothers for an amount higher than the Roman Tax amount.  When he collected the tax he could pay the Romans their portion and pocket the rest.

He proceeds to announce to those within hearing of him that he was a person that fasted twice a week and gave tithes of the total value of his wealth, not just the income for the week.

                a. The Jews were to keep time periods of fasting, but never was it twice a week, but rather once a year. 

                b. A tithe was to be  given to the temple  but it was on the weekly increase, not a tax on the total net worth.

By saying those two comments he was letting everyone know his standing before God and how God would be looking down on him with approval and acceptance into heaven.  That his good works would earn an even greater reward from God.  His actions would qualify him to stand far above this Tax Collector who was a complete sinner. 

Does this sound like what we hear today when we ask them a question as:  “If tomorrow you were to die, where do you think your future life will be?  While we die and go out of existence or do you feel that being a ‘good’ person God would accept you?  Would we be a person to say:  Yes, God will accept be in because:  1) I’m a good person, 2) I give to the poor, 3) I attend church regularly, 4) I am good to my neighbors, 5) I follow the law, 6) etc.,  By that stand we are saying I  have earned God’s acceptance of my life and history? 

Note the stance the person takes.  Is that person in any position that earns him a standing before God?    That view would eliminate the need for him to come before God and seek His forgiveness?  Instead he states that it would be unnecessary as he has earned his way into heaven.  In his view he had earned a position with God by his ‘works’ and thus earning ‘salvation’ by his hands and not dependent on anyone or God. I’m alright with God, what else is there? 

Bottom Line:  I have done it my way!

The Tax Collector position demonstrates the way the God wants man to behave in order for the promise of ‘forgiveness’.  Note, it is recognizing that we have sinned and undeserving of life as sinners.  Romans 3:23  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  esv

What is the bodily position and posture of the Tax Collector? 

  1. He is standing far off from the temple.  The position tells one that he does not consider himself worthy to be closer.  He recognizes his position by reviewing in self what he is lacking.
  2. He would not even lift his eyes to heaven.  Recognizing how unworthy he was and acknowledging to self his needy condition before the throne.
  3. He beats his breast and states that he is a sinner.  His acknowledgement of his sin and recognizing himself lost if no one steps in to redeem him.   He thus asks God to be merciful to him a sinner.  He is acknowledging his need for redemption and it cannot be within himself or his actions. 
  4. He stats that he is a sinner, thus disqualifying himself to eternal life (Heaven).  The he needs to subject himself and place himself in the hands of God to have mercy on him.  He becomes dependent on God’s promises.  Whereas, the Pharisee did not relay on God, but his own behavior, being his ‘good works’ showing he earned it.  OR:  ‘I did it my way!”

The Bible does say that we must do good in behavior and works, however, not to the point of earning our way into heaven.  The problem with us humans is that we want to do it our way.  We don’t want to be dependent upon God’s remembering us or on His mercy to act in our favor.   Our stance on ‘doing it our way’ means we don’t want to trust anyone, even if it is God Almighty.

To listen to this complete study (message) of this parable it would be good for you to go to the internet site of First Baptist Christian Church.  Take advantage of listening the pod-cast of Pastor Odle’s message on Sunday, 9/8/19. 

This like will give you access to the message:   https://firstbaptistelyria.org/sermonaudio/

Below is a ‘screen image’ of the page as of 9/8/19.  If  go to the site next week you will have to scroll down to find the message:  “The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector (Luke 18: 9-14) (SermonAudio)

The church site:  https://firstbaptistelyria.org/


TAX COLLECTOR In the Roman Empire, tax collectors (KJV: “publicans”) were employed to help collect taxes in the provinces. People bid for the job of tax collector, and they were compensated by collecting more than the required tax from the people. Tax collectors were despised by Jews as greedy because of the excessive profits they reaped. They also were counted as traitors because they worked for the Romans. In the NT, tax collectors often are associated with Gentiles and sinners (Matt. 5:46–47; 11:19; 21:32).

Jesus was criticized by the Jewish leaders for eating with “tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 9:11). Jesus welcomed and taught tax collectors (Luke 5:29; 15:1). Matthew, one of Jesus’ disciples, was a tax collector (Matt. 10:3). Zacchaeus was a “chief tax collector,” which probably indicates that he was contracted with the Romans to collect taxes over a specific area, and he supervised others who did the actual collecting (Luke 19:2).[1]

At John 11:45-57 we find that is was the Pharisees that formed a group to plot the death of Christ.

The Plot to Kill Jesus  –  (Note verse 53)

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.

55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him. [2]  “esv”

[1] Longman, T., III, Enns, P., & Strauss, M. (Eds.). (2013). In The Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 1605). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 11:45–57). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.