“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
Jesus loved to tell parables to help teach his disciples and the crowds that followed Him. This was another of these parables. The story featured two men who were praying to God. One was a Pharisee, who was considered the holiest of Jews by fellow Jews. The other man was a tax collector, who was considered the bottom of the holy ladder by fellow Jews. They both had different prayers. The Pharisee was talking about all the things that he did that made him “righteous”. The tax collector was talking about all that made him unrighteous and begged for mercy.
Jesus told the crowds (and to us too) that the one that went away from that prayer time justified was the tax collector because the tax collector knew that righteousness does not come from works, it comes from trusting in God’s forgiveness and redemption. We have that through Jesus’ work on the cross. So this week, let us remember where our forgiveness and righteousness come from. They come from Jesus.
“He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” (Luke 13:18-21)
Jesus loved to share little stories with his disciples. These stories carried a lot of meaning in them and used them as teaching tools. These verses here share another example of Jesus teaching the disciples through parables.
The two stories talk about the kingdom of God, a topic that Jesus taught regularly about to the disciples. Both of these short stories compare the kingdom of God to something that starts small and grows big. The first is a mustard seed which is one of the tiniest seeds that there is. But it can grow out of that seed into a large tree. The second story talks about leaven (which is used in baking bread) and how a little leaven makes the dough rise.
God at work in us starts small but has a tremendous impact. As we follow Him and grow in our faith, we are able to be used for His kingdom and for His glory. There is the phrase “A little goes a long way”. When it comes to God, He can take a little and make much out of it. This week, let us be faithful in doing our part and seeing our faith and our work grow for His kingdom and His glory
“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)
Jesus loved to tell parables to help teach truths and this is another example of a parable that he told. In this parable a widow had been wronged and went to the judge in town to get justice. This judge, however, was not one who “feared God nor respected man” as Jesus described him. Yet the widow kept going to him repeatedly seeking justice. Finally the judge relented.
Jesus tells the disciples and those listening to the story that if this unrighteous judge listened to the widow and did accordingly, how much so will God who is righteous listen to his children? Sometimes we may be praying and it seems like the widow waiting for our prayers to be answered. But we can trust that God will answer them and that He wants us to trust Him in that.
This week, let us keep seeking the Lord in prayer. Let us not grow weary in praying. Let us trust in Him to answer in due time.