Thank God I’m Not A Pharisee

Spring break was filled with food, hikes, bikes, food, beaches, turtles, food, boats, friends and more food. It was such a great time to get outside and explore this colorful, extravegant Hawaii that I  forget about during school.

Our third and final quarter of the SBS started off with the gospel of Luke. This book has probably had the greatest impact on me of the three gospels we have studied so far. Our focus was on the parables of Jesus: learning how to interpret them as they were meant to be understood by a 1st century audience.

Parables were a public speaking devise used to draw out a response from the audience. Their purpose was to expose a sinful heart attitude from the hearer and hopefully bring them to repentance. They were meant to be heard and not read. Each parable has its own punchline or unexpected turn. This is the “gotcha” moment where anger, greed, pride, etc. is revealed in the audience.

This stuff is convicting. Really convicting.

But only if you allow yourself to be; only if you read with humility and honesty. It’s easy for me (and I’ve done it before) to skim through the parables, chuckling to myself about those uptight, arrogant religious leaders…assuming I have nothing in my own life to be exposed. This is not the way to read a parable.

Arrogance. Self-relience. Greed. Disobedience. Racism. Complacency. Laziness. 

This is the stuff of the parables. This is the Pharisee; This is ME. It’s shocking. It’s ugly. It’s convicting.

Our speaker used an illustration of a sunday school teacher teaching on the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. In the parable the Pharisee and Tax collector are both at the Temple. The Pharisee prays, thanking God he is not like the tax collector: a sinner. In contrast, the tax collector cannot even bring himself to look up to heaven. He beats his breast saying, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” In the end the tax collector goes home justified. In this illustration the sunday school teacher ended his lesson with a prayer, “Thank you God I am not like the Pharisees” – humorously missing the point of the parable. Let’s not read parables this way. Let’s allow them to wreck us, convict us, change us.

For me, I want to be like that tax collector, so aware of my own sin that I can only throw myself on the mercy of Jesus.

I want to be like Peter who, when he saw the power of Jesus, fell on his knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”.

I want to be like the prodigal son returning home saying, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

As always, thank you for your love and support as David and I finish the final leg of this race. If you would like to partner with us financially in our studies and ministry, please visit our Support Page.