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The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
October 21, 2020 8:00 am

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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October 21, 2020 8:00 am

If youre a respectable member of a nice church, and you hear Jesus starting to tell one of his parables after a while, you learn to duck! Did he ever tell a story where the decent, upright person came out on top? Certainly not the story of the respectable Pharisee and the disgusting tax collector.

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If you are a respectable member of a nice church and you hear Jesus starting to tell one of his parables well, but after a while you learn to dock.

Did he ever tell a story where the seemingly upright, decent person came out on top will certainly not the story of the respectable Pharisee and the disgusting tax collector.

Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector is one of the best known of all Jesus parables, these two man opposites in every way.

Go up to the temple to pray the respectable Pharisee praise allowed for all to hear. Gratefully praising and thanking God for his blessings expressing his devotion to his sacrificial giving and discipline, fasting, all who hear him, admire him and look up to him as an example of holy living. The disgusting tax collector meanwhile keeps his distance to avoid seeing and being seen. He has no praises or thanksgiving to offer. He cowers and looks at the ground instead of showing his love and devotion to God, the feeble prayer he offers is all about himself begging for mercy, and he knows very well.

He has no right to ask for it. Let's listen now as Dr. Boyce examines why one man went home justified before God and the other one didn't garble of a Pharisee and the tax collector from Luke 18 is one of the best known and most popular of all Christ stories right up there with the story of the good Samaritan prodigal son, but it's often misunderstood lease misapplied on the surface it seems to be a story about prayer. Two men went up to the temple to pray and one prayed like this and the other prayed like that and it's tempted to treated in that way as to how we should pray that's really not the essential message that our Lord's getting across. It's true, the prayer is involved with. This is really a parable of salvation.

It's how one gets into a right relationship before God. This is evidence I think in the conclusion.

Our Lord draws in verse 14 when he speaks of his judgment on the tax collector and his approach to God saying I tell you that this man rather than the other went home justified before God as a justification is what is talking about.

He might've said I tell you this man rather than the other had his prayers answered that his money says he says this man was justified less not only the key idea in the parable. That's the key problem and concept in religion we don't stand in the right relationship with God and the question is how do we get into a right relationship with God. How do we become justified before the Jost God of the universe begins with a remarkable and as we progress in the story with what becomes a shocking contrast talks about a Pharisee and everyone who that would be in a tax collector, and everyone knew that would be an point of the comparison is that the flavor was all on the side of the Pharisee everybody who knew about a Pharisee would choose that man hands down over the other person in Christ story Nicodemus was a Pharisee. Paul was a Pharisee. When the lepers of the day.

These were the outstanding men of letters, men of religion and this is of our Lord begins with and then there's this other person. This tax collector is no good sheeting moneygrubbing Roman collaborator, which is what they would all of said of him. It wasn't any good why he had sold out of the Roman seed betraying the traditions of Israel. You were going down the street you saw tax collector, coming across to the other side it wouldn't one even rub shoulders with the tax collector.

That's not hyperbole that's actually what happens. And here's this Richard individual and he comes into the story and so when Jesus said there were two men and went on to say that one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. There were people in his day were even wonder whether was right when he called the both man was a man of his amounts, they might've said her as a manager is a scoundrel, but to man. Why only because the Lord is so generous that even uses the charm when he refers to this despicable individual comes into the story. It was like saying here is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and over on the other side there's a rapist or here's Billy Graham and there's a prostitute. I was the comparison everybody would've known it now. Not only was this kind of comparison. Evidence in the mere mention of a Pharisee and the tax collector is also evident in the way the Lord tells a story he's reinforcing it by what he says, he said. First of all, there was this Pharisee and he stood up and he pray why not if he hadn't stood up and prayed that is standing where everybody could hear me be invited to Brian's matter knew how to pray and if he was being humble and sitting there somebody else with a going over to him and said oh no Mr. Pharisee come on appear stand up here and pray pray were everybody to quiet everybody. The Pharisees going up right and that's what the Pharisee ditty throughout his chest. He collected his thoughts to be pray about himself. That's what our Lord said, but that's the attitude people would have and then what is he say about that tax collector will he stood at a distance where he belonged.

He would not even look up to heaven. No wonder anybody you did the things a tax collector. Did you be ashamed to look up and beat his breast and said God have mercy on me a sinner while why not. He was a sinner and he certainly had plenty to beat his breast about IOP pizza hard to lock himself out way that tax collectors, but acting so I gorgeously reinforces the image in the way he tells a story you know the funny thing here is that when he gets to the end. The conclusion of his exactly the opposite of what would've been in everybody's mind, because our Lord says as he talks about the prayer now Pharisee, but of the tax collector. I tell you that this land rather than the other went home justified before God, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted is puzzling enough that you want to go back and look the story a second time. I guess what you want to do is say will maybe we've been wrong. It's true that we do have this mental picture of the Pharisee and we do have this mental nature of the tax collector and it's true. The Lord did say the Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself and maybe we misunderstood that any said that the tax collector stood at a distance and beat upon his breast.

He wouldn't even look up to heaven, but maybe we misunderstood that after all we are human we only look on the externals.

God looks on the heart. Maybe Jesus know something about these men that we don't know is the Pharisee of mobile mobile land and certainly in a noble noble profession highly regarded by the people of his day, but you know, even though he says I am not like all other man robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week that I give attend the ball. I get maybe maybe wasn't quite what he was pretending to be on sure he said I give 1/10 of all I get maybe he really didn't. Maybe he was like Ananias Inspiron. That is, she sold the property, pretended to give it all but kept the parties that here it is his 10th of my income was only 3% of 39% he was keeping seven of the 6 1/2 and he said I fast twice a week. Well he did that at home.

Who knows what he did. Maybe smack a few little goodies on the side. He just pretending to be better than he is very said I am not in the donor.

Maybe he was knows what he did in private.evil doer, not a robber baby really was bad. As far as tax collector goes well maybe he was better than we think.

After all, we all know of the good hearted concern bartender who counsels his people who come in while they're buying his liquor may be the tax collector was like that or we all know about the prostitute with a heart of gold. Maybe the tax collector was like, hello, it's true, his gains were a bit ill-gotten but maybe on the side. He was actually using them to help his fellow man. Maybe read it wrong you know as well as I do that that is not what our Lord meant when he told the story about the tax collector is true when this man beat upon his breast is a God be merciful to me a sinner.

He was a sinner. So the meeting of the story has to be found not in a reversal of what we may perceive about these individuals, but the basis upon which the judgment of God is reversed in his perception about these individual that we understand is all on the basis of the tax collectors prayer, or justification is the key to the understanding of the parable of the heart of the teaching of the parable is in this prayer for the shortest prayers in the Bible seven words in English and six in Greek here says God have mercy on me a sinner is very very profound blemish show why want you to take it in parts and I want you to do first is take the subject in the direct object that is dropout the verb verb comes in the middle, have mercy on you drop that out what you have is God… Be, sinner.

Now I say this is profound. Firstly because that is the essential ingredient in religion God in me. One of the things wrong with so many professions of religion is that there's plenty of me, but very little of God O in religion, we use the name of God Attend your religion if you don't talk about God, but you can talk about God while actually your mind is focused on yourself and that was through the Pharisee Pharisee began by praying God. But Jesus said what he was really doing was praying about himself and thinking about God's thing about a wonderful following was and I was not true.

The tax collector the tax collector prayed God and what he had in the equation was be and he saw that meant that he was the center. These two elements got me go together say is when you know God is a sovereign God that you know yourself is not sovereign. He rules and we are the subject. You don't have God in the equation you think that you rule we want to rule your own life. Make your self, your own Lord or if you know God as one of you know yourself as love, but love even though your unlovely because you measure what you are against what God is. In that respect or God's wisdom. You see your foolishness and if God is holy. You see your sin go together and I miss you see God like that you don't know yourself and it's only when you really know yourself fully that you see God because you see them in that relationship and here's what this tax collector was no theologian. Nevertheless, perceived that he was praying to God and as a result he saw himself and what he chiefly saw himself as was the center Pharisee had no sense of sin that means that he had no sense of God because of Esau, I would've seen himself as a sinner and even though we had all the language of the at all the rights and he did all the proper things it really was a very ignorant man in spiritual terms, and, by contrast, this tax collector has it all over him because he sees what's essential when he sees it in a personal way and is not afraid to express you go down through the Bible and take all of those appearances of God are visions that savanna pad of God. Down through the ages. You'll find that in every case. This is the result. When Adam and Eve were in the garden and they send they were too troubled by it. At first they thought they could take care of themselves, why not they were creative and resourceful men and women had the whole world drawn resources were being depleted very quickly in those days and so they set out to do with a good and they took a replaceable resource for glaze. Always grow plenty of those. And they closed themselves covering their nakedness know what happened they heard God coming in the Darden and what happened then I forgot all about their finery that he did as Adam explained later he said I should because I was afraid and I was naked and he wasn't talking there merely about a physical mechanism is talking about a psychological or spiritual nakedness. He knew he was naked before God.

God knows everything God saw everything Ronnie could cover up his physical nakedness with a fig leaf. There's nothing he could do to cover up the miserable simple nakedness of his own heart. See what he had the confrontation with the real God figment of his imagination with the real God. He saw himself as a sinner as they had the same experience. I mentioned that he saw the Lord sitting upon the throne, high and lifted up, and he was overcome with a sense of his own unworthiness. He said I'm a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of the people of unclean lips because my eyes and see the king. Lord of hosts.

Think of a back back it's one of did the same thing because so back it was asking a moral question the whole thrust of that book is moral question how can God allow the wicked triumph over the righteous, or even over those who are not righteous but are more righteous than the wicked back. It was sensitive to these things. He knew his own people were not godly in the fullest sense. But they were certainly more godly than the Egyptians of the day, yet God had allowed the Egyptians under Pharaoh neck out, up and conquer his people and possess the land that he just didn't understand. How can this be if God cares for us and God is all-powerful and God is a moral God.

How can he lacks the ungodly triumph over the man who is more godly. Many recognized almost the affronts of daring to ask a question of that nature of God, but we had done it did.

He said all right at market Asante more of a crime in the my watchtower them and wait and see what is going to say to me, and God came in he gave an answer. I'm not sure he understood fully God explained it was an ungodly world and in an ungodly world. Those were God, we must live by their faith in God was following him step-by-step trust that he knows what he's doing and I explained a little bit what he had in mind.

But when it gets to the end and the back. It begins to talk about his experiences. God revealed himself to him in third chapter verse 16 he says, when God spoke, I was so terrified my knees bind together. My heart was pounding louder than a big bass drum and I was almost undone.

That's not the language he uses, but you want to see how profits is the same thing you could look it up. That's the idea you go to the New Testament to find the same thing with Peter.

Peter L got a tiny little glimpse into the holiness of God. On one occasion when the Lord Jesus Christ there in the flesh did a great miracle the Sea of Galilee and Peter's response was to say leave me oh Lord, because I'm a sinful man, or again you have that wonderful vision of the apostle John on Patmos. He said he was in the spirit of the Lord's day of the Lord appeared to him standing in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks and when he turned around and saw him he was so overcome by the brightness of the glory and the holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ, that he said I fell at his feet as one dead and that's why when we are talking about our awareness of God. This is not something that we should ban the about likely it's certainly not something that should cause us to have a light view of God or an increase view of ourselves save as God gives his value by his grace through Jesus Christ.

When we see God. We see only rebelled against God, releasing the holiness of God. We see how sinful we are and we find ourselves in the position of this tax collector who didn't stand up, throw out his chest and pray about himself and start off on the side with his head down beating up on his breath saying God be merciful to me a sinner a lot of theology in that prayer may say to there's another reason why it's so profound because this tax collector. Though it was no theologian and no great religious figure of his day. He perceives you say that it was not only a matter of him being a sinner, though he was lacks but it was also a matter praise God in recognizing that God is merciful and is acted in mercy toward him through the system of sacrifices. Here's where you puts the verb back in God and assigned me a sinner on the side, but in the middle of the mercy of God. God have mercy on me a sinner.

You know this is really amazing. We've lost some of the meaning. Inevitably, in English translation because when we say, have mercy on it doesn't have much substance in our way of thinking. Mercy is an attitude as we normally think of it, but in biblical language. It's not mercy is something based upon an act of God is even more than that here because the word is that this tax collector uses for mercy… Terry on is the same word that is used in the Old Testament, the Greek translation of the Old Testament to describe what we have translated our English Bibles is the mercy seat. That was the covering of the ark of the covenant so it's quite possible to translate this prayer of the tax collectors, God be mercy seated to me a sinner or God be merciful to me on the basis of the system of sacrifices which the mercy seat represents that's a great deal of insight. There's a man who really knew what it was all about and explain a little bit about that ark of the covenant because the symbolism is so central to the worship of the Old Testament. For one thing, the ark of the covenant stood in the holy of holies the most holy place of the Jewish tabernacle and therefore it was central to religion the Old Testament. Furthermore anything about it symbolizes the way in which a sinful man or woman can approach God at this understand something about the design of the ark. The ark was a box was about a yard long, not quite as wide was covered with gold, though made out of wood and in it was place the law of Moses the stone tables on which the 10 Commandments were carved.

Then on top of this box the lid covering was this mercy seat.

No, it was not wood covered with gold. It was solid gold speaks of the purity of God and the purity of those would come to him and on either end of the ark. As I understand the description.

There was an angel or Seraphim cherubim and these angels faced each other their wings went backwards outwards, I believe, and then upwards and they met describes it is almost leading over the mercy seat which was over the ark of the covenant which contained the law of Moses and in symbolic form God was understood to dwell between the wings of the cherubim. Now look at that, apart from the use of the mercy seat here is God dwelling between the wings of the cherubim, and as God looks down upon earth. What is it that he sees God sees the law which we are broken. We've all broken law, which condemns as a Knight picture of God looking down upon the laws a picture of judgment.

There is God in the role of judge. The judge all the ark must do right and that the judge of all the earth is right. You must condemn the gelding. There is no excusing guilty. Here's where the mercy seat comes in and this is why it's called the mercy seat because obedience to the commands of God himself gave once a year on the day of atonement, the high priest went into that holy of holies the innermost sanctum of the Jewish tabernacle and he brought with them.

Blood from a sacrifice that had been made just moments before in the courtyard of the temple then were told he sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice upon the mercy seat and now what's the symbolism now is God looks down. What does God see God doesn't see the law which we are broken.

God sees the shed blood. God knows that an innocent victim is died in behalf of the guilty. He knows that sin has been punished. The judgment has been meted out any teachers you see on that basis that there is a way of approach to him soul that sins shall die, that is law, but it's possible to have another die in the sinner's place. That's what that tax collector was referring to that tax collector said God I want you to treat me on the basis of my tithing or my fasting or my purity in sexual matters or my holding back from stealing or any of these other things because I'm still a sinner, even when I'm not on those I want you to approach me and allow me to approach you in the basis of the sacrifice that another may die for me, in order that my guilt might be cleansed by sin might be washed away and I might stand before you as one for whom another has died and that's why Jesus said, I tell you that this man rather than the other went home justified.

Nobody in the whole history of the human race has ever been justified in any other way, the tax collector. Of course look to the sacrifices today. We know that the sacrifices prefigured Jesus Christ even in the Old Testament.

It says that the literal blood of sheep and goats could not take away sin. It was only to teach how sin could be taken away. But it pointed forward to Jesus who did die who was the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world whose blood is it were symbolically was sprinkled before the throne of God. As a result of which God even picking up the image of the ark of the covenant of the holy of holies demonstrated the way was open by tearing the veil in two from top to bottom saying now it's been fulfilled.

The way is open in the my presence. The perfect substitute the spotless Lamb is died. Nobody is ever been justified before God apart from faith in that son of God either. Looking forward as those in the Old Testament times did by their faith in the sacrifice or by looking back. As we do today know what it is that Jesus did. The question I would ask is whether that is your prayer has that been your prayer have you prayed God have mercy on me a sinner on the basis of what Jesus has done or do you still say God I demand that you take note of what I've done.

Look at my record will come good I been you prayed that way your record will send you to hell your record is what has got you in the trouble in the first place.

Your self-righteousness is condemned you Jesus is the way and the way is as simple as this prayer God have mercy on me a sinner. You can pray that you've already passed from death unto life and you'll see the Lord in his glory. One day let us pray our father we ask the quietness of this moment that if there are any listening who have not come in the way that you have provided for sinful men and women to come that is through Christ that they might do it now without delaying any longer. Point them to yourself, that they might see you in your holiness and find themselves in their sin and then point them to Christ, the one who comes between the one who bridges the gap the one who makes atonement granted as they come through faith in him. They might enter into all the joy of salvation prayer Jesus you are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview.

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