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
When His opponents used the term, “friend of sinners,” to describe Jesus, it was meant to paint a negative picture of Him. No self-respecting religious leader would be seen with such people, according to them.
As we’ve seen in a few examples this week, Jesus was a friend to those who humbled themselves before God and I think the parable above provides some additional clarity.
Both of the men in Jesus’ parable were in need of salvation. Both were sinners, but only one recognized his need for a Savior and only one man “went down to his house justified.” The other man, the religious man, put his faith in himself.
Read the parable again. Let’s humble ourselves before the Lord.