The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, also known as the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, is a story told by Jesus in the Christian New Testament, found explicitly in the Gospel of Luke 18:9-14. This parable contrasts two characters, the Pharisee and the Publican (tax collector), and their attitudes toward prayer and humility.
Here is a breakdown of the parable:
Context: Jesus tells this parable to address those confident in their righteousness and look down on others as less worthy. He aims to teach them about the importance of humility and the dangers of self-righteousness.
The Pharisee: A member of a religious group known for strictly adhering to Jewish laws and rituals. They were often seen as devout and righteous.
The Publican (Tax Collector): A despised figure in Jewish society, as they were considered traitors for collaborating with the Roman Empire and often accused of extortion.
The story: Both the Pharisee and the Publican go to the temple to pray. The Pharisee prays confidently, thanking God that he is not like other sinful people, including the tax collector. He boasts about his fasting and tithing practices.
On the other hand, the Publican stands far off, unable to even look up to heaven. Instead, he beats his chest and prays, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner."
The lesson: Jesus concludes the parable by stating that the Publican, not the Pharisee, went home justified before God. He emphasizes that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
The central message is the importance of humility, recognizing one's sins, and the need for God's mercy, as opposed to self-righteousness and judgmental attitudes.
In summary, the Parable of the Pharisees and the Publican teaches about the importance of humility, sincerity, and recognizing one's need for forgiveness rather than focusing on the faults of others or relying on one's own perceived righteousness.