Just before we look specifically at the passage of Scripture before us, I just want to let you know that this is a portion of Scripture that I have been waiting for all my life, really, to preach on. As you know, going through books of the New Testament the way we do, you get there once and that's it and you have to wait until it shows up. But I have referred to this text of Scripture thousands of times in my ministry, it is such a profound text theologically, spiritually. It has such sweeping implications and yet it is at the same time so basic and so simple. It is that parable that our Lord tells in Luke chapter 18 starting at verse 9, and what I want to do in unfolding this is take my time so that we understand it fully and so that we understand its implications fully. And in order to build the background historically that makes this sensible to us and rich, it's going to take a little bit of time.
It is an amazing story that our Lord tells for its profundity, as is so often the case, with simple words. So let's turn to Luke chapter 18 and look at verses 9 through 14...Luke chapter 18, verses 9 through 14.
"And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt. Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax gatherer. The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, 'God, I thank Thee that I'm not like other people, swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax gatherer. I fast twice a week. I pay tithes of all that I get.' But the tax gatherer standing some distance away was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven but was beating his breast saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner.' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled but he who humbles himself shall be exalted."...