Day 18

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

from the The Parables of Jesus reading plan

Luke 18:9-14, Luke 7:36-50

BY She Reads Truth

In this study of the Parables of Jesus, we are reading many of the stories Jesus used to teach hearers about how to live as His followers. Each day we’ll read parables in their immediate context, focusing on a different category of parables each week. Then we will work through a series of questions to understand the meaning of the text and take to heart the “secrets of the kingdom.”

Editor’s Note: In this Parables study, Jesus Himself is telling us stories—stories He wants us to reflect on and process. Rather than asking our writers to write their own stories about Jesus’ stories, we thought it would serve you and the text better to provide questions to help you dig into the meaning of each day’s parable. If you find a parable or passage particularly confusing, stop and pray. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you in His Word, and thank Him that we can know Him without knowing all the answers to our questions.


Week 3: Parables about following Jesus

Many of the parables Jesus told have to do with what it means to follow Him in this life. Addressing topics from anxiety and fear, to compassion for our neighbors and commitment to the truth, Jesus uses common scenarios and familiar places to teach His disciples how to live as His people. Each parable in this week’s daily readings speaks to the Christian life in some way. Use the questions below to help you dig deeper into Jesus’ teaching.


Day 18 Reading: Luke 18:9-14, Luke 7:36-50


1. What are some key differences between how the Pharisee and tax collector see the world? In what ways are you like the Pharisee in this parable? In what ways are you like the tax collector?

2. To whom does Jesus tell this parable, and what is the parable’s outcome?

3. What is the central point of this parable?

4. What was the audience’s response to hearing this parable? What is yours?


Post Comments (33)

33 thoughts on "The Pharisee and the Tax Collector"

  1. Mandy says:

    Those sitting at the table where unaware of who Jesus really was, but the woman knew from the moment she saw Him who he was. It continues to come back to the attitude of the heart and recognizing the need for a true saviour.

  2. Susan says:

    “Let me further say that, inasmuch as that salvation of God is a great one, it must have been intended
    to meet great sins. O sirs, would Christ have shed the blood of His heart for some trifling, venial sins
    which your tears could wash away? Do you think God would have given His dear Son to die as a mere
    superfluity? If sin had been a small matter, a little sacrifice would have sufficed. Do you think that the
    divine atonement was made only for small offenses? Did Jesus die for little sins, and leave the great
    ones unatoned? No, the Lord God measured the greatness of our sin, and found it high as heaven, deep as hell and broad as the infinite, and therefore He gave so great a Savior. He gave His only-begotten Son, an infinite sacrifice, an immeasurable atonement. With such throes and pangs of death as never can be fully described the Lord Jesus poured out His soul in unknown sufferings, that He might provide a great salvation for the greatest of sinners. ” Spurgeon

  3. Theresa says:

    Here’s my takeaway from today… the more I realize the magnitude of my sin, the more I will realize the forgiveness from God.

  4. Eva says:

    The other side of this is that we are all sinful and we can’t get away from that. The current trend is to deny that sin exists (if something is labeled sinful we are judging those do it and calling them bad). This is part of the blindness that people have when they don’t have the Holy Spirit to convict them of truth. We can pray for this conviction to stir our own hearts and those around us.

  5. Kristi says:

    I can see the theme of self-righteousness clearly in both of these passages. Self-righteousness is so dangerous because it prevents us from realizing the depth of our sin. For many years I struggled with this because I was a “good Christian girl,” carefully checking my boxes each day and thinking I had to earn my salvation by good works. After college, God began to reveal to me the weight of my sin and that salvation is a gift to be received through faith in Jesus, not to be earned. Jesus’ words in Luke 7:47 really resonate with me. Until we realize the depth of our sin, we can’t truly appreciate the forgiveness God has freely given us and the deep love He has for us. Until we realize how utterly sinful and unworthy we are, we can’t understand the magnitude of the gift we have received. I’m so thankful for God’s mercy towards me. When I remember that His forgiveness and grace cover all of my sin, I’m overwhelmed and humbled. It’s a truth I need to be dwelling on every single day.

    1. Susan says:

      “It’s a truth I need to be dwelling on every single day.” Yes, indeed I do as well!

    2. Christina D. says:

      Kristi thank you for your response. I can relate to a lot of what you said. I still struggle with feeling like maybe people who have had harrowing life stories and radical conversions experience God’s forgiveness and love more than I do, being brought up in a Christian home. Your comment helped me to really internalize that though my life looks so different from another’s, the weight of my sin is equal. I have an opportunity to experience God’s love and forgiveness just as any other human being no matter the journey to redemption. We can all equally cry “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” Thank you for sharing.

  6. Erica says:

    How often do I really humble myself before God and before other people? In this society it is almost frowned upon to humble yourself; it is believed that you must build yourself up to get anywhere worthwhile in society. But in living a counterculture faith we are asked to humble ourselves. Do I cling to Jesus’ feet with the same humility and repentance as the tax collector? Do I pour out my heart and love and need for Jesus in the humblest of ways as the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair? Amidst all the facades we show to the world that portray us as strong, independent, and capable, how can we then turn and show God our weaknesses, dependency, and need for Him? We end up bringing our facades to God as we do to the rest of the world. Humble and broken, without a facade, is where God wants to meet us so He can restore, heal, and build up; He is the creator of beauty from ashes. It is only from His hand that we find peace, forgiveness, and righteousness.

    1. KimN says:

      Love this Erica!!!

      1. Akua-Sodio Flanagan says:

        Erica thank you for that. Your words helped me with my own jumbled words, thoughts and feelings. Thanks!!!!

        1. Kristen says:

          So true! Thank you, Erica

    2. Pam says:

      Wow! What great insight. Thank you. This is definitely a question I’ll be asking myself.

    3. Sarina says:

      Thanks for the insight. We need to approach Him just as we are with no masks.

  7. Christina D. says:

    “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” I know the Lord’s prayer was how Jesus said we should pray. And I know most of us have heard versions of the sinner’s prayer. But this, the most simple, honest, and deeply humbling line speaks volumes of the heart. Every time I hear this prayer I feel called to postulate as the tax collector does. It is humbling for me. Because I do see myself in both the Pharisee and the tax collector, like many others have said. But only when my heart and spiritual posture is one of complete humility and surrender do I experience the vast love and forgiveness of God. Lord, let this prayer be my life’s breath prayer. Let it ever be in my heart and on my lips. With every step let me remember that You have had mercy on me, a sinner.

    1. Susan says:

      Thank you for your heart and insight in this.

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