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July 26, 2020 7:00 pm
I would invite you to turn to the gospel of Luke Luke chapter 18 Luke 18. Considering another one of the parables of Christ in this series of messages that I've been bringing Luke chapter 18 beginning at verse nine. Also he spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
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. I fast twice a week.
I give ties of all that I possess in 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 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. You notice that word also begins. This parable in verse nine. Also he spoke this parable that's too alert us to. There's a connection between the parable of the work considering tonight.
In the parable that Jesus gave its right before this. We do not know whether he taught both of these parables on the same occasion, one after the other. We know that Lucas put them together but again we did.
We do not know if there's any time lapse between the first or the second because people have picked up on that word. Also they have. I fear miss interpreted the main point of this parable, the parable that precedes it is the parable of the persistent widow and it is an emphasis on persistent prayer and some of said well the theme that ties both of these parables together is the subject of prayer. The first is emphasizing persistence in prayer and the second is emphasizing humility in prayer the prayer is the subject of this parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.
No, I wouldn't dismiss that completely out of hand.
I would agree that there is we should have an interest in prayer that is recorded for the prayers that are recorded in this parable, but this parable is only about prayer in that it reveals the heart of two men it says two men went up to the temple to pray, so we will consider two men and we will consider the prayers of these two men offered, but the issue is not prayer in and of itself, even the posture prayer of humility, but what the prayers of these two men revealed about where their hope was where the confidence was what they were trusting in this parable is not about prayer. This part parable is about salvation. It's about how man or woman can be right with God in the heart of the parable is at the end of it. Jesus says I tell you, not this man went down to his house with his prayer answered. But this man went down to his house justified justified rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself exalted so that's the introduction. The bit of the background further considering the background in the setting says he spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others. Who is it that we know that existed in Jewish culture that would fit that description.
It was the Pharisees. It was that religious sect in Judaism. That's why Jesus identifies the first man went to the temple to pray, as a Pharisee, two men went up to the temple to pray one of Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were right, righteous, and despised others see of all the religions in the world they can be considered under two categories there are the religions of the world that teach that man must do something to please God. Man must do something to gain acceptance with God. It's man in his effort in his works and his religion is religious acts is what a man must do in order to earn favor with God. Christianity is the only form of religion that teaches contrary to that Christianity does not teach what man must do to earn favor with God. It doesn't teach what man must do to earn acceptance with God. It teaches what God has done to reconcile sinners to himself.
So what man must do is what God has done, the person of his son the Lord Jesus Christ. So this Pharisee, this group the Jesus is addressing in this parable had a faulty understanding of so to reality they were trusting in themselves. They were trusting in their own work. They were trusting in their own effort.
He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they excuse me were righteous and despised others. They despised others that word the test translated here in the new King James Bible as despised is a Greek word that means to consider worthless of no value to treat as if of no account was only one other use of that Greek word in the Gospels and it describes the mocking treatment. Jesus received at the hands of Herod's soldiers. This was the attitude of the Pharisees. They thought much of themselves and thought very little of anyone else valued no one else lived lives of isolation did not engage with people. That was the Pharisees. Two men, Jesus says in this parable went up to the temple to pray one of Pharisee and the other a tax collector. These two men could not be more polar opposites.
We have a bad opinion of the Pharisees because we been educated by the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, but if you were living in Palestine during these days you need to understand that the Pharisees were highly esteemed, they were they were. They were large in number, probably at at the greatest they may have been maybe 3000 but they were not large in number and they were not a religious or I'm sorry they were not a political entity that wasn't their focus. Although they had a lot of political clout because of their popularity with the people they were respected they were esteemed, they were the religious people. They were the ones that you were to follow in your pursuit of Jehovah. They were pious and respected were on the other hand, the tax collectors were the most in pious the most despised members of Jewish society they lived off the backs of their own countrymen, they were empowered by the Roman government to collect taxes, and they could collect what the government required in anything that they could collect above that was theirs, and therefore they were indeed despised people hated the tax collectors.
In fact, it said that if someone were to spot a tax collector. They would walk in the other side of the street to avoid them. So it's not that the Pharisees were alone in their despising of the tax collectors. That was pretty much how they were know the religious Pharisees would've been regarded as the most outstanding men leaders in the community. The kind of person that you would want on your board kind of person you wouldn't want to use as a reference the kind of person that you would want to invite into your home for dinner that you might gain influence with them. So again, it's hard to imagine a greater contrast between these two as to occupation Pharisee was engaged in a noble occupation but tax collector base undesirable as the self-evaluation Pharisee. He was confident he was boastful he was prideful he was confident in the tax collector will, he was cringing. He had no confidence in and of himself.
So let's consider the prayers that these two men offered two men went up to the temple to pray one of Pharisee the other tax collector or two men. Let's consider to prayers the Pharisee the Pharisee stood and he prayed thus with himself was nothing wrong with his posture to stand and pray we don't know exactly where he prayed in the temple but I'm inclined to think that he positioned himself as close to the holy of holies as he possibly could to give the impression of how close he was to God, it was in contrast to what were told of the tax collector, verse 13, the tax collector, standing afar off. He was standing afar off, and I read into that that this Pharisee probably was standing as close as he possibly could to give the impression visually of how close he was to God, the Pharisee stood and he prayed, that's a good thing to do in the temple. Jesus said my house will be called a house of prayer. So prayers very appropriate to be offered in the temple. The Pharisee stood and he prayed thus with himself, and is easy.
He's addressing God. He says God but as you consider his prayer.
That's the last reference he makes to God's prayer is a prayer of self-congratulation is prayer is all about himself. It's as if he's praying to himself. Notice what he says God I thank you that I am not like other men, so it's all about himself, not an extortion not unjust.
A lot of the daughter and then yams to glance over and he sees the tax collector. Any says or even as this tax collector. All the things that is not I'm not this all not that then is prayer focuses on not what is not.
But what he is what he's done. He says I fast twice a week noble only required fasting once a year in preparation for the day of atonement here. This man is saying you know what I've gone above and beyond.
I don't prayer. I don't fast is once a year I fast twice a week. I give ties of all that I possess carefully monitoring the minutia of his life in that way because he thinks that these are the things that will gain him acceptance with God. This is what he does. This is what he says but two men went up to the temple to pray, the Pharisee and the tax collector, verse 13 and the tax collector notice what it says about him 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 notice with me.
Number one is location. Unlike the Pharisee who stood as close I think to the holy places he could get this tax collector was standing some distance away on the ends of the crowd because he I think was most aware of his on worthiness to be in the presence of God or even in that all of this so-called righteous man so number one is location. Notice number two is posture. His posture was manifested in his meekness says he was unwilling to raise his eyes to heaven. Why would that be. I believe the he was overwhelmed with a sense of his guilt and shame get an overpowering sense of his own unworthiness and his alienation from God was his sin, his disobedience and his lawlessness that brought him pain and along with that fear and dread deserve punishment because he's in the temple he's in the prescribed place of the presence of God, where his presence is manifest as man is sensing this feeling this in his own spirit. Notice number three. His behavior he would raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast. He beat his breast. What we what are we to read into that. Well, it was a sign it was expressing the most extreme sorrow and anger, beating his breast.
He was engaged as a worshiper here. He was undone because of his sin and then finally notice the words of the tax collector. Notice what he spoke is the shortest prayer in the Bible, but perhaps the most profound seven words in my English Bible six words in the Greek God be merciful to me a sinner. He is expressing his prayer offering is prayer to God. God and here's his request be merciful to me, and he acknowledges himself as the center out my Bible says a sinner rupture Bible says a sinner in the Greek the definite article is there is not saying be merciful to me a sinner, be merciful to me, the sinner is an exclamation point being made as he identifies himself as the sinner there other centers around, but I am though sinner right now right here as I stand before Almighty God.
That's a good posture for any of us. All of us to assume, be merciful to me, the center, he was repentant he was humble. He came to God in the appropriate way became without contrite heart. He's pleading with God to be merciful to him.
He was asking God to have mercy on his hell deserving soul and then there's the stunning statement by Jesus that no doubt shocked the Pharisee shocked the legalists in his audience and absolutely shattered theological sensibilities. Verse 14 Jesus said, I tell you, Jesus is speaking with a voice of authority.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other. That word is translated, justified in our English Bible is a perfect passive participle that literally means having been permanently justified. Jesus is making a declaration of this man in this parable declaration. It is a forensic justification say what we mean by forensic will is a legal term its courtroom language.
Forensic refers to legal declaration and forensic justification means that a person a sinner is declared righteous by God in a legal sense that this man is now guiltless before the law. He is forgiven his sins of been forgiven his sins of been blotted out. He went home.
The whiskey what back to his home justified, declared right before God. Now the Pharisee also went home but not with the same standing before God, he still under delusion. He still under the wrath and condemnation of God because he's trusting in himself. He's trusting in his own effort in his own work in his own religious activity. So it was shocking to the audience that Jesus was speaking listen without any work without any merit. Without any worthiness without any law keeping without any moral achievement without any spiritual accomplishment without any ritual without any penance without any good works or any other meritorious activity. This guilty sinner was pronounced by Jesus instantly and permanently righteous.
Now the only acceptable righteousness before God is the perfect righteousness that he provide this, not by human effort is not by human merit. It cannot be earned, and because it cannot be earned. God gives it is a gift to repentant sinners who put their trust in him know this man was justified free cross before the cross but the object of his faith.
The vague ground of his justification is the same as the ground of our justification. It's the person and work of Jesus Christ. He was justified on the same basis that you and I are justified. Let's take a look at this prayer because there's so much made in our day of the sinners prayer. You cannot listen to a religious broadcast without the the broadcast ending.
Not all most that you listen to conclude with the sinners prayer, something someone is to say, in order to receive forgiveness from God. Some are better than others, but most fall far short of this sinners prayer. Let's consider for these next few moments in examination of this sinners prayer God be merciful to me a sinner or the center. It starts with God. It ends with sinner those of the words on either end of the prayer God be merciful to me a what a sinner. John Calvin in his institutes of the Christian religion said that that says that the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves go together. That is that we never have one without the other.
To know God as the sovereign God of the universe versus to know ourselves as his subjects who are in rebellion against him, to know God and he is pulling us is to know ourselves as sinners. That's what you see portrayed in this tax collector. The Jesus speaks of in this parable, and in knowing ourselves all right through knowing God. The matter of sin is uppermost in any encounter with God. It is his holiness as contrasted with our sin that most strikes, the worshiper, let me walk you through some examples of this. Adam and Eve in the garden. The first sinners after they say and what did they do what they deluded themselves with the idea that they were all right. And yet they were all right.
They what did what they made fig leaves the cover their nakedness and went about their business. But when they heard the voice of God in the garden in the cool of the day they hid him among the trees and when God asked where are you Adam. Adam answered I heard the sound of you in the garden and I was raised. Why because I was naked and I hid myself see their nakedness was spiritual as well as physical and it was there spiritual dilemma as sinners that came home to them when they heard God in the garden. They ran from God. They hid from God.
That's what sinners in the presence of God. Do we find the same thing. In the case of Joe. You know the story he lost all of his possessions, his family's health.
If there was anyone who could have stood before the holiness of God blameless. It was Joe because God bragged on Joe before Satan himself considered my servant Job, that there is none like him blameless and upright, he fears God and turns away from evil. God said that about him, but toward the end of the book after God came to Joe with a series of questions designed to teach something of his true Majesty Job was nearly speechless, and in a state of collapse. He replies to God in Job 40 verse four verse five or six. I am unworthy. How can I reply to you. I put my hand over my mouth. I despise myself and I repent in dust and ashes. That's a joke in the presence of Almighty God. Isaiah it received this vision of the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted heat heard the praise of the Seraphim. What affected that have on Isaiah recorded in chapter 6. Far from being the cause for self-satisfaction or pride that such a vision of been granted to him. He was actually what he was devastated. He said woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips. I dwell among the people of unclean lips why Fry seen the Lord, high and lifted up Isaiah saw himself ruined undone. It was only when Nicole was taken from the altar used to purge his lips and he was able to stand all right again and respond affirmatively to God in service a `also had a vision of God. It been distressed with the ungodliness in the world around them and he wondered how the ungodly could rightly triumph over the man and the man who was righteous so what did he do the he entered his watchtower and he waited for God's answer when God did respond a `was overcome was overcome with dread.
We read in Habakkuk chapter 3 in verse 16. Quote I hear in my body trembles my lips quiver at the sound rottenness enters into my bones. My legs tremble beneath me know. Habakkuk was a prophet but a confrontation with God even in his case was shattering.
What about Peter New Testament Peter recognized the glory of Christ in his miracle of granting a great catch of fish in Galilee and were told in Luke chapter 5 in verse eight that Peter fell on his knees in the boat and he said to Jesus, depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man, what's happening here, in each case when a man has an encounter with God in his holiness is sin is exposed. He struck these undone that he's unworthy to be in the presence of such a God.
John the apostle received a revelation of Christ's glory on Patmos on the Lord's day seen the risen Lord, standing in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks Revelation 1 verse 17 says he fell at his feet as though dead. See this is what happens when a sinner meets God and that's how we know that this tax collector.
New God displayed his reputation.
While the Pharisee did not. The Pharisee began his prayer with God, but he was not praying to God because he did not see himself as a singer.
On the other hand, the tax collector. He was so aware of God that he would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, he beat his breast, saying God be merciful to me, the center that's the first remarkable thing about this prayer again incredibly short but if we understand it or ride its profound is addressing God in his holiness and it's a sinner that's doing this.
What would be the response of the sinner addressing the holiness of God. Well, that's the second remarkable thing about the prayer that the tax collector was not only aware of his sin, deep and penetrating is that awareness was. He was also he was also aware of what God had done deal with his sin problem.
He was a singer alienated from God by that sin, but God had bridged the gap making reconciliation because between the beginning of the prayer God in the end of the prayer center. The center we have the words be merciful to me, be merciful to me, and it is because of the acts of God's mercy and only because of those acts that this man or any other sinner can approach the Almighty.
You see it's it's a plea for mercy on the basis of what God has done. The word that's translated be merciful to me is one word in the in the Greek it's it's the verb form of the word for the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant in the Jewish Temple us is a bit awkward but literally it could literally mean Lord be mercy seated toward me or treat me as one who comes on the basis of the bloodshed on the mercy seat as an offering for sin, you member the ark of the covenant, the ark was a wooden box covered in gold. It was about a 3 foot long inside the ark of the covenant. According to Hebrews chapter 9 verse four worthy stone tablets. The commandments that was Aaron's rod and there was a jar of manna, that's what was in the ark of the covenant. Now the lid on the box of the ark was the mercy seat. It was constructed of pure golden having on each and all the angels with outstretched wings that went backward and upward between the outstretched wings. God was imagined to dwell symbolically as it stands, the ark is a picture of judgment. It's a picture of judgment intended to produce dread in the warship or through knowledge of his or her sin for what God sees as he looks down from between the wings of the angels.
He sees the law of Moses that we have broken that all have broken all have sin and he sees that he must act as judge but here's where the mercy seat comes in and here's why it's called the mercy seat upon the covering of the ark once a year on the day of atonement, the high priest sprinkled blood from an animal that had been killed. Moments before in the courtyard of the temple in the animal was a substitute was an innocent victim dying in the place of the sinful people who deserve to die.
Now, when God looks down from between the outstretched wings of the angels. What is EC ECs, not the law of Moses that was broken, but he sees the blood of the innocent victim.
He sees that punishment has been meted out and now his love goes out in mercy to save the one who comes to him through faith in the sacrifice.
Now that's the Old Testament picture but again, what is all the whole sacrificial system was a picture.
It was pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ. So God can be merciful to help deserving sinners because of the sin will substitute the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed his blood and paid the sin debt for sinners.
Thus, the merit of this prayer God be merciful to me.
We glad that God is such a merciful God. So when the tax collector prayed God be merciful to me a sinner. He was thinking of the animal sacrifice, not you, wasn't thinking of Jesus, he was thinking of the animal sacrifice. When we pray this sinners prayer we think of Jesus and the way in which God is provided a full and perfect sacrifice and salvation through him. I want to conclude by reading to you from first Timothy chapter 1 Paul's writing and he says this. This is a faithful saying this is verse 15.
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. So he's alerting us that there's something to be said that is profound something that's worthy to be widely accepted. What is that two things number one, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. That's the first thing are we glad that the Lord Jesus Christ came in the this world to save sinners because if he did, and there is no hope for any of us.
That's worthy of full acceptance Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners and then Paul says secondly, of whom I am chief to bring what we learn from the parable appeared with Paul saying Paul. Paul is saying I'm not just a sinner. I am the center.
I am the chiefest of sinners using a weight a minute is not an exaggeration. Is that hyperbole no II believe that Paul sensed his sinfulness before God. He wasn't concerned about the sin of other people when he's writing this to Timothy's concern about his own state before God as a look within himself, knowing himself as he was no himself to be a sinner. You see, that will keep a man humble that will keep you from pride that'll keep you from arrogance.
That'll keep you from looking down and despising other people that'll keep you in a posture to receive the mercy of God because the Bible says God what he's opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. Then verse 16 he says, however, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all long-suffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on him for everlasting life. Two things with the passing of each day, two things larger for Paul number one his sinfulness in light of the holiness of God, and number two God's mercy in the face of his how we need to be rejoicing and thankful for God's posture toward us in Christ.
The God was in the world in Christ reconciling the world and how we need to be reminded often of our sinfulness.
In light of God's holiness and at the same time reminded of God's mercy face of our sin rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in the let the water and the blood from thy riven side which flowed, be of sin the double cure, cleanse me from its guilt and power, not the labors of my hands can fulfill the law's demands. Could my zeal, no respite, no. Could my tears forever flow all for sin could not atone. Thou must save in the long.
Nothing in my hands, I bring simply to the cross I cling naked come to the for dress helpless look to the Ford grace file I to the fountain fly wash me, Savior, or I die while I draw this fleeting breath when mine eyes shall close in death when I soar to worlds unknown.
See the online judgment throne rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself. Which is it friend tonight for you.
You resting in the perfections of the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you assumed the posture of humility before God. Recognizing the euro sinner recognizing that God in his Holiness has every right to judge you. Realizing that the only plea you have is one of mercy toward God or you working and trying and striving and collecting merit, hoping that God will accept you on that basis. I hope tonight you understand there's no hope in that endeavor is not interested in how religious you are. God is interested in whether your trusting in his son and his finished work on Cal. That's the only thing is gonna matter at the end we stand before God. Whether were trusting in ourselves or what. Whether were trusting in the work of God's appointed substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ let's bow and pray father, thank you for the provisions you made for sinners in your son the Lord Jesus Christ because every believer to rejoice afresh and what you've done to save us, and for any who have heard or will hear this message.
Who are outside of Christ, Lord, show them the folly of human merit. Show them the folly of striving and trying to earn favor with you. Bring them to the place where they call upon you for mercy. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise beyond her and glory forever and ever.