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The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Updated: Dec 28, 2021

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[Note: This is one of a series listed under the heading: Wordie Post." It was originally posted on the Word Press blog entitled "Our Daily Bread," found at rtippett97@wordpress.com. The changes at Word Press are similar to those on Twitter and Facebook, where I was posting to an empty space. That was because I began and maintained that blog as one of their free offerings. When their force to change to a paid blog website did not move me, they cancelled their "Reader," so posting on Word Press has become like a caged animal at the zoo, where only workers occasionally toss the animals a bite to eat. Word Press [et al] is like what I imagine life was like in the satellite countries of the Soviet Union: meager, bleak, spiritless. So, I am transferring those forty articles here.]


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In Luke 18, readers find that Jesus “told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt.” (Luke 18:9)


The parable was of two men who went to the temple to pray, which references the three times a day that the Jews were called to prayer. During the pilgrim seasons, when Jerusalem was abuzz with out-of-towners, the Temple was not like the modern tourist attraction – the wailing wall [where they wail because the temple was destroyed and the Jews lost their land for centuries]. Then, the altar was going all day long, with animal sacrifices taking place, along with speeches on the temple steps. So, to go to the temple to pray says it was the off season.


Keeping in mind this is a parable and not a ‘roving reporter Jesus, live on the scene’ account, Jesus was probably telling this parable during the winter celebration known as the Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah, which was more of a local event, not one calling all pilgrims to attend.  With the altars not ablaze and the hubbub mild, Jesus was imagining a time when the adoration of the Jews brought them to the temple steps to hear a good sermon by a Pharisee; because, after all, the Jews memorized the Scriptures and then looked at each other and said, “Huh?  What does it all mean?”

Publican in Temple

Because the Pharisees were accustomed to taking the higher steps as they preached their nonsense, the people were always below them.  Jesus was then telling a parable about simple prayer time, when memorized prayers were muttered privately, more of less.  However, in the imaginations of the parable, Jesus had the Pharisee assume the position of superiority, so his prayer became a loud oration from the top step, so all down below him heard him praying, in the same way they would hear him give a sermon during festival time.


The Pharisee made it clear he was high and mighty.  He pointed out how he was much more pious than all the riff-raff below.  The tax collector [a.k.a. a Publican], stood far back in the court of women, not even looking up at the blowhard praying loudly.  He knew he was a sinner and begged God to forgive him, because he did not know how to stop stealing from other Jews, in order to make a living.


The moral of the story, according to Jesus, was this: the tax collector “went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”


Now, I have never heard a sermon given by a priest, pastor, minister, or preacher [or Jews for Jesus rabbis] where he, she, or it stands high above the masked faces [these days] and apologizes for being put in the awkward position of playing the role of the Pharisee.  I have never heard a modern Pharisee rise to the top step of the lectern podium and begin talking about the sins of the self-aggrandizing one who prayed loudly about how his or her stink don’t stink like the next guy’s.


That is the definition of a priest, pastor, minister, preacher and rabbi (no matter who or what they are for).  They stand up high and say from their position of might, “I went to college to say what I say, unlike you.”


There are no halos around the heads of those teaching Christians today.  There are no Saints teaching Christians how to be Jesus reborn.


The point of this parable is not the, “The publican – the one representing all you failures in the pews – reflects on those who know they are sinners and pray to God for forgiveness.”  The Pharisee was a sinner as well, but he blinded his ability to see his sins with all the glare of self-importance.  People who stand and preach sermons never admit they are sinners, because why would anyone want to listen to a sinner’s opinion on anything?


The point of Jesus telling about “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt” was not to make the sinners be glorified.  Listen to all sermons orated these days about this reading and the one orating will always be squeaky clean and close to God, enough to tell all the paying customers, “Just put some more money in the pot and I will tell God to give you a pass on all your sins … the one’s that will bring your guilty asses back here next Sunday.”


The point of this parable is Jesus was the truth who preached.  Jesus taught his disciples how not to sin.  The only way to not sin is to be reborn as Jesus.  Jesus never stood on the top step, telling everyone how pious he is (even when he is).  Jesus explains the truth of what everyone was memorizing, but had never been told what it means or how to reach those lofty goals.


There are no priests, pastors, ministers, preachers, or rabbis who believe in Jesus, who tell their followers, “I am the resurrected Jesus.  He is one with my soul.  I teach you from the Father, as the Son reborn, so your souls can also marry Yahweh and receive the Spirit and become Jesus reborn.”


That is the truth of Christianity; but that truth has dwindled to almost nothing.  Christianity is now largely led by hired hands and false shepherds, who glorify every imaginable sin under the sun.  They act as if they are gods, never Jesus reborn.


Next time you hear someone wearing the clothes of the righteous give a speech about how there is still hope for the sinners of the world, ask that person to elaborate on how they became holy enough to stop sinning.  Ask him or her what he or she did to become Jesus reborn.


If one does not admit one’s sins and ask for forgiveness for one’s sins, because one is blind to one’s sins, then that one is further away from salvation than one is who knows all about the sins committed, just is clueless about how to stop sinning.  Neither have gained salvation at that point, so nobody who is a sinner needs to preach to others about something they know nothing about: How to stop sinning.

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