Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm20100127.htm
THRU THE BIBLE EXPOSITION
Luke: Jesus, The Son Of Man For All Mankind
Part LXII: Christ's Identity As God's Savior By His Teaching On The Basis Of God's Forgiveness
Lesson: Jesus taught opposite the belief of many in Israel that justification and forgiveness before God are based on one's humbly throwing himself upon God's mercy, not by seeking to rely on human merit.
- If Jesus is truly a perfectly righteous, holy, and gracious God's Son, we should expect Him to reflect the unmerited favor of God in His view of the basis of God's forgiveness of man's sin.
- His teaching on the basis of God's forgiveness in Luke 18:9-14 does just that, and it offers rich application for us today (as follows):
- Christ's Identity As God's Savior By His Teaching On The Basis Of God's Forgiveness, Lk. 18:9-14.
- One of the beliefs prevalent in Israel in Christ's era was the idea that a Jew could rely upon his own innate goodness to uphold his standing as being adequately righteous before God, cf. Luke 18:9.
- According to Jesus, this was errant theology, so he told a parable that contrasted how a Pharisee and a publican stood before God in terms of righteousness to teach that forgiveness was based upon God's grace alone, and not by human merit (as follows), Luke 18:9, 10-14:
- To appreciate the point of the parable, we must contrast a Pharisee from a "publican" (KJV) as follows:
- Unlike the theologically liberal Sadduccees (cf. Mark 12:18-27), the Pharisees were a theologically conservative group whose name meant "to separate," implying they were separate from uncleanness in others around them, Zond. Pict. Ency. of the Bible, 1975, vol. Five, p. 745. They held to the teaching of Scripture (Matthew 23:1) so that even Jesus told His disciples of the Pharisees, "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do . . ."
- However, a "publican" (KJV), rendered "tax collector" in the NIV and ESV, was a local Jew who was hired by wealthy publicans to collect tax moneys from the Jews, Ibid., p. 607. They were hated as traitors by their fellow Jews since they represented the power of Rome and often used their authority to overcharge their countrymen so they could greedily keep the overcharge, Ibid.
- Thus, Jesus said a Pharisee and a tax collector went up to the Jerusalem temple to pray, Lk. 18:9-10.
- The Pharisee, who considered himself separate from all the ungodliness in the world around him, especially from the heinous sins of the despicable tax collector, stood and prayed, saying, God, I thank you that I am not as other sinners, such as this tax collector; after all, I fast twice a week and give tithes of all I possess, Lk. 18:11-12.
- These deeds were significant: (a) Scripture never required anyone to fast that often, but only of the Day of Atonement, and the Jews extrabiblically called for two additional fasts the day before Purim (cf. the book of Esther) and the 9th of Ab, commemorating the fall of Jerusalem, Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, ftn. to Matthew 9:14. Also, (b) Scripture called for Israel to tithe of her major produce, but not small herbs like dill and cummin as the Pharisees did, Ibid., Matthew 23:23, ftn. to Matt. 23:23. Thus, the Pharisee saw himself as going beyond even Scripture's demands to be far more righteous than the tax collector!
- In contrast, the tax collector did not rely on any righteousness in himself, but standing far off from the Pharisee to whom he felt spiritually inferior, he dared not lift his eyes up to look to God, but humbly smote his breast in remorse, begging God to be merciful to him as a sinner, Luke 18:13.
- The tax collector thus threw himself upon God's mercy where the Pharisee relied on his own merits.
- Consequently, Jesus concluded the tax collector returned to his house justified while the Pharisee went home unjustified before God, Luke 18:14a.
- The lesson is potent: God justifies and forgives by grace alone, not by human merit, so exalting one's merit before God brings abasement and humbling one's self before Him brings exaltation, Luke 18:14b.
Application: (1) Since Jesus taught that justification and forgiveness was by God's grace, He is a truly perfectly righteous, loving God's Savior of the world. (2) May we fling ourselves on the mercy of God in all avenues of life and service for His blessing! (3) May we also appreciate the compatibility of the theology of Paul and Jesus on the theme of "justification by grace through faith," cf. Romans 3:21-28.