THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN (Continued)
Scripture Reading: Luke 18:9-14
9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Matthew 23:23 reveals what the Pharisees actually tithed. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." The fluff of self-exaltation is a dead giveaway to the spiritual eyes.
The prophet Isaiah is quoted in Matthew 12:18-21. He foretold of Jesus and His ministry reaching to all including the Gentiles. The prophet said in part, "Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. This is the same weightier matter that the Pharisees overlooked in that they did not regard anyone who was of another nation." Even today the religious system has shut out and written off all that are unlike them.
Jesus went on to say, "and not to leave the other undone." It is this writer’s heartfelt belief that if the instructions God had given concerning tithing in the Old Covenant had been followed, those Pharisees would have learned to fear God as His purpose of the tithe stated, and they would have been in a better position to recognize their Messiah. It is written that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Then we find in the New Covenant that Jesus Christ has been made unto us wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30). By the time Jesus came, they were much too far removed from the Intent of God. So it is today!
The publican’s posture is reverent. Positioned afar off and lowering his eyes in the respect of a bondservant, he demonstrated his humility and godly sorrow by beating his breast and only then addressed God by seeking mercy and confessing his sin. 1 John 1:9 describes what takes place in the spirit when any sinner does the same. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Jesus confirmed this truth on the spot as He concluded this parable. Immediately, this man, the publican, went to his house righteous and exalted by God, and the Pharisee was unchanged with impending abasement.