60. Parable of the Penitent publican
Parable of the Penitent publican……..JESUS spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself: God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon 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 every man that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
¶Then were brought infants, that Jesus should touch them: but the disciples rebuked them that brought them. Jesus, much displeased, said unto the disciples,
Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall in no wise enter therein.
He took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them; and he departed thence.
¶When he was gone forth into the way there came one running, a ruler, and kneeled, and asked, Good Master, what good thing shall I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus answered,
Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
He saith, Which? Jesus said,
Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
The young man saith, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus beholding him loved him, and said,
Yet lackest thou one thing; if thou wilt be perfect, go thy way, sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
The young man went away grieved, for he was rich, and had great possessions.
¶Jesus looked round about, and saith,
How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God? It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus saith again,
Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven! And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
The disciples were saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus answered,
With men this is impossible; but not with God. The things which are impossible with men are possible with God: for with God all things are possible.
¶Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. What shall we have therefore? Jesus saith,
Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
There is not a man that hath forsaken houses, or father, or mother, or brethren, or sisters, or wife, or children, or lands, for the kingdom of God’s sake, for my sake and the gospel’s, but he shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
Verily I say unto you, every one that hath left house, or father, or mother, or brethren, or sisters, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, and the gospel’s, shall receive manifold more in this present time: houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and shall inherit life everlasting in the world to come.
But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
¶For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them theirhire, beginning from the last unto the first.
And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many be called, but few chosen.
Scripture: Luke 18:9-14
Meditation 1 of 3:
Scripture warns us that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; Prov. 3:34). Jesus paints a vivid story of two men at prayer. What’s the point or lesson he wants us to learn? Luke gives us a hint: Jesus warns us about the danger of despising others. Contempt is more than being mean-minded. It springs from the assumption that one is qualified to sit in the seat of judgment and to ascertain who is good and just. Jesus’ story caused offense for those who regarded “tax collectors” as unworthy of God’s grace and favor. How could Jesus put down a “religious leader” and raise up a “public sinner”? Jesus’ parable speaks about the nature of prayer and our relationship with God. It does this by contrasting two very different attitudes towards prayer. The Pharisee, who represented those who take pride in their religious practices, exalted himself at the expense of others. Absorbed with his own sense of self-satisfaction and self-congratulation he mainly prayed with himself. His prayer consisted of prideful boasts of what he did and of disdain for those he despised. The Pharisee tried to justify himself; but only God can justify. The tax collector, who represented those despised by religious people, humbled himself before God and begged for mercy. His prayer was heard by God because he had remorse for his sins. He sought God with humility rather than with pride. This parable presents both an opportunity and a warning. Pride leads to illusion and self- deception. Humility helps us to see ourselves as we really are and it inclines us to God’s grace and mercy. God dwells with the humble of heart who recognize their own sinfulness and who acknowledge God’s mercy and saving grace. I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit (Isaiah 57:15). God cannot hear us if we despise others. Do you humbly seek God’s mercy and do you show mercy to others, especially those you find difficult to love and to forgive?
“Lord, may your love control my thoughts and actions that I may do what is pleasing to you. Show me where I lack charity, mercy, and forgiveness toward my neighbor. And help me to be generous in giving to others what you have so generously given to me.”
Scripture: Luke 18:15-17
Meditation 2 of 3:
Do you seek to help others draw near to the Lord? The parents who brought their children to Jesus wanted Jesus to lay his hands upon them. They knew of the healing power, both physical and spiritual, which came from Jesus’ touch. Jesus, in turn, rebuked his disciples for hindering the children from coming. No doubt the disciples wanted to shield Jesus from the nuisance of noisy children. But Jesus delighted in the children and demonstrated that God’s love has ample room for everyone, including children. No one is unimportant to God. He comes to each person individually that he might touch them with his healing love and power. Do you show kindness to the youth you encounter in your neighborhood, home, and church and do you pray for them that they may grow in the knowledge and wisdom of Jesus Christ?
“Lord, may we never hinder our youth from coming to you to receive your blessing and healing power. Make our youth strong in faith and character that they may follow you zealously. And as we grow with age, may we never lose that child-like simplicity and humility which draws us into your loving presence.”
Scripture: Luke 18:18-30
Meditation 3 of 3:
What gives hope and satisfaction to our desire for happiness and security? A person of position and means who had the best the world could offer — wealth and security — came to Jesus because he lacked one thing. (Who was this ruler? He was likely a Pharisee, a religious leader. Matthew’s gospel says he was young (19:20.) This person wanted the kind of lasting peace and happiness which money could not buy him. The answer he got, however, was not what he was looking for. He protested that he kept all the commandments; but Jesus spoke to the trouble in his heart. One thing kept him from giving himself whole-heartedly to God. While he lacked nothing in material goods, he was nonetheless possessive of what he had. He placed his hope and security in what he possessed. So when Jesus challenged him to make God his one true possession and treasure, he became dismayed.
Why did the rich ruler go away from Jesus with sadness rather than with joy? His treasure and his hope for happiness were misplaced. Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. The Lord himself is the greatest treasure we can have. Giving up everything else to have the Lord as our treasure is not sorrowful, but the greatest joy. See Jesus’ parable about the treasure hidden in a field. Selling all that we have could mean many different things–our friends, our job, our “style” of life, what we do with our free time. Jesus challenged the young man because his heart was possessive. He was afraid to give to others for fear that he would lose what he had gained. Those who are generous towards God and others find that they cannot outgive God in generosity. God blesses us with spiritual goods that far outweigh the fleeting joys of material goods. He alone can satisfy the deepest longing and desires of our heart. Are you willing to part with anything that might keep you from seeking true joy with Jesus?
“Lord, you alone can satisfy the deepest longing in my heart. No other treasure can compare with you. Keep me free from being possessive or discontented and give me joy in having you alone as my Treasure and my Portion.”