What Jesus Did! 'Two Men, Vast Differences' — Luke 18:9-14

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: "Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised [1] tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: 'I thank you, God, that I am not like other people — cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I'm certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.'

"But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, 'O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.' I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

[1] The NLT added the word "despised" to emphasize that most Jews did despise tax collectors as agents of the Roman government and that some of Jesus' stories had the "hero" as someone most Jews of Jesus' day considered to be inferior. For example, notice the "Good Samaritan" (Luke 10:25-37), a Roman officer with a sick servant (Matthew 8:5-13), a Gentile woman with a demon-possessed daughter (Matthew 15:21-28), and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:5-30).
— Luke 18:9-14 NLT

Key Thought

The difference between these two men was vast, but not for the reason the Pharisee thought. No, the difference between these two men was not their outward actions or words, but their hearts. One of these men, the tax collector, knew he was sinful and needed mercy, forgiveness, and grace. The other, the outwardly religious guy, thought he deserved to be honored by God. In fact, only one of these men knew about grace; that was the humble and forgiven man. Jesus reminds us that our faith isn't about religiously pretentious games but about our humble response to the God who has given us everything in Christ.

Today's Prayer

Father, forgive me for I am a sinner. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Galatians 6:1-5
  • Proverbs 16:18
  • Proverbs 8:13

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Illustration

Illustration of Luke 18:9-14 NLT — " as someone most Jews of Jesus' day considered to be inferior. For example, notice the "

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.