- Jesus told a story about 2 people — a Pharisee and a Tax Collector
- Who was a Pharisee? He is part of a religious/political group that prides themselves in keeping the law. The word “Pharisee” means set apart — they wanted to keep themselves holy and were careful not to mix with anyone who did anything wrong.
- Who was a Tax Collector? Tax collectors were Jews who helped the Roman government to collect taxes from their own people. Jews hated the Romans. So they also hated the tax collectors who worked for the Roman government. The tax collectors also often collected extra money for themselves. So if they were supposed to collect 100 dollars, they would collect 150 dollars instead and keep 50 dollars for themselves.
- Both these men went to pray in the temple.
- The Pharisee stood apart by himself — he didn’t want to be with the “common” folks in case they contaminated him. He prayed, “I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like that tax collector over there. I fast two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all my income.”
- The Pharisee took pride in the things that he could do that made him better than everyone else, especially the tax collecter — he was not greedy, not dishonest, not an adulterer, fasts 2 days a week, gives one-tenth of his income.
- He thought that by doing all these things, he will be able to earn God’s favour. God will be happy with him, and he will be right before God (“righteous”). But actually he was only self-righteous because he thought he could be good enough on his own — he didn’t need God.
- On the other hand, there was the tax collector. He hid his face down, ashamed. He knew all the wrong things he had done. He knew he could not be right with God on his own. He was a hopeless case. He knew only God could save him. So he beat his breast and said, “God, have pity on me, a sinner.”
- Jesus told his disciples that it was the tax collector, not the Pharisee, who went home righteous that day.
- The Pharisee was self-righteous. He believed, by what he does, that he was good enough and didn’t need God. But the Bible tells us that none of us can meet God’s standards on our own (“There is none righteous, not one.” Rom 3:10). But because the Pharisee didn’t see himself as needing a Saviour, he didn’t accept God’s forgiveness.
- The tax collector was unrighteous. And he knew it. He didn’t pretend to be better than he was. He didn’t try to hide it. He just called out for help. And God heard him and answered him. That’s why Jesus loved spending time with “sinners” — because they knew their own condition, they didn’t have false pretenses and they could see Jesus’ love for them.
- When we accepted Jesus into our hearts, we told Him that we couldn’t do it on our own and we needed His help. God heard us, and answered us, and Jesus lives in us forever.
- Today, because of Jesus, you and I don’t have to beat ourselves up like the tax collector any more. We can stand before God boldly, not boasting in our works like the Pharisee, but boasting in Jesus’ works — Jesus is our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption (1 Cor 1:31).
- We can say, “I thank you, God, that because Jesus was not greedy, not dishonest, and not an adulterer. Because Jesus was completely sinless and completely righteous, we are now the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!” Praise the Lord!
- Memory verse: 1 Cor 1:31 “Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’”
3. ACTIVITY SUGGESTIONS
- Any related craft with the memory verse or the words “I will boast in Jesus”
- Close in prayer