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The Parable of the
Pharisee and the Publican


The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican [Tax Collector]

Luke 18.9-14

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else:

10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector.

11 The self-righteous one stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!

12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’

14 I tell you, this sinner, not the self-righteous one, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”


The Parable:

  • Who we are is revealed by what we say
  • Self-righteous pride is unacceptable to GOD
  • A broken and a contrite heart as revealed by the tax collector was the basis of his receiving GOD's mercy and grace
  • Men may hate you and what you do - collecting taxes - and they may love you as an outstanding man in the community and church - it doesn't mean a hill of beans to GOD. What counts is our deep need for forgiveness and humility of spirit before GOD

  • The "imagination" is a whole world inside the mind...

Parables are powerful "word-pictures" that are meant to be engrafted into our thinking...as mental pictures do control our thought-life.

That's where the "imagination" gets involved. The imagination allows mental exploration of the past, present, future. It is the ability to see pictures and images in the "movie theater" of the mind. The imagination is the "workshop" of the human mind. It is the only thing in the world we have complete control over. That's why GOD takes great interest of what goes on there, and judges what we allow to grow there - Genesis 6.5












The Publican was "forgiven"

  • Both were sincere in their self-estimation of themselves
  • We do not know if their prayers were audible or silent - GOD reads the thoughts, and knew what each was praying
  • The one saw himself as a virtuous man, the tax collector saw himself as a sinner...

What was the problem then...

  • The Pharisee's virtue was destroyed by pride
  • The tax collector's humility opened the Kingdom of GOD to himself...

The Pharisee

  1. Said, I thank Thee in name only
  2. He had no thanksgiving to offer
  3. He had no sense of blessings received
  4. He had no plea to make
  5. He had no consciousness of any need, or lack in his life
  6. He congratulated himself by not being like the tax collector
  7. He listed not being an adulterer, nor being unjust
  8. His mistake was that he was measuring himself by other men -not GOD
  9. He told GOD about his fasting and tithes
  10. He fed on his own conceit of character
  11. He got nothing from GOD


The Publican

  1. He was a distrusted tax collector, a friend of Rome
  2. He couldn't even look up to heaven
  3. His prayer was of piteous shame and smote his breast in agony
  4. He was distraught over his sin and to dare stand before GOD in prayer

The result?

What are the results for the Pharisee and Publican...

"I say unto you, This man went down to his house justified rather than the other."

  • None of the tax collector's deeds were condoned
  • His humility could not be neglected - resulting in "forgiveness"

On the other hand -

  • Pharisaism has no friends
  • Pharisaism has no hope for it feels no need for GOD
  • Pharisaism is unconscious of any defects

Jesus says of them "they have their reward". They have no hope until their pride crashes into "ashes".

  • Humility counts itself not to have attained.
  • Humility has GOD's attention

Matthew 5.3-4"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." These people know their need of GOD's transformation and forgiveness is overwhelming...


Return to 75 parables

Making Better Thought-Movies One Truth At A Time

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