The parables of Jesus are fascinating stories. They give us insight into Kingdom realities. They help us understand Jesus’ mission on different levels. Each parable looks at the Kingdom of God from a different vantage point. One common element of the parables is surprise. If you have heard the parables, you might not be surprised at the way they end. If this is the case, let me invite you to forget them and hear them again as if it were your first time. I know, this is an impossibility. You cannot unhear a story. Yet we can think of the way that the first hearers would have heard the stories.
In this week’s story/parable, Jesus is once again speaking to the religious leaders. Remember, they were ticked off at Jesus. He threatened their way of life and undermined the power structures that were in place. In this story, Jesus takes them head on.
(Luke 18:9 NIV11-GK) To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:
This parable is only a few verses, but the message is powerful. Jesus contrasts the prayers of religious leader and a tax collector.
(Luke 18:10 NIV11-GK) Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
By now, we know that Jesus is going to turn the situation upside down. If we were to pose the question: Which one is in right standing with God, most first century Jews would have placed their bets on the Pharisee. But Jesus is going to shock the first hearers. He is going to expose the hypocrisy of the Pharisee’s prayer.
Join us on Sunday as we experience Jesus taking on the power people of His day. As we study His words, we will be challenged with our own prayers and attitudes. I would encourage you to read the text Luke 18:9-14 ahead of time and come on Sunday morning ready to explore this passage together.