I don’t know if you are familiar with any of the parables Jesus told in the Bible (stories designed to teach a lesson). No worries, today happens to be National “don’t-throw-stones-unless-you-know-everything” day. It’s kinda like the fourth of July, but different. Anyway, our pastor is doing a series on the Parables of Jesus.
Scattered throughout the sermon series, a few of our members were asked to share their personal story as it related to a parable.
Here’s to hoping they call me for the “Good Samaritan!”
What about the parable with the lady who gives her last coins to Jesus? Isn’t there one like that?
Um…hmmm…okay (having to dig deep), is there a parable about a mom who is on the verge of crazy, a less than stellar house-keeper, but knows she’s desperate for Jesus?
By now, I’m just hoping they don’t call me. I’m mean what’s left? All the bad ones…
But, they did call.
They asked if I would share my story after the “Prodigal Son” sermon. (The parable of the two sons can be found here.)
Well, the shoe does fit. I am a recovering prodigal. I am prone to wander.
I guess I’ll do it.
As we discussed what I would say, I asked if they wanted me to share some of the same thoughts I shared on the post I guest-wrote for their blog.
After a day or two, my sweet friend on staff at our church emailed and asked if I would consider sharing my story on the week Brady (our pastor) taught on the tax collector and the Pharisee, instead of the prodigal son.
I said yes because, duh, I had no idea what that parable was about. It’s one of the obscure ones I skim over on my way to read about the other stories that pertain to me more.
So I read the parable. It’s found in Luke 18:9-14 and goes a little something like this…
The Story of the Tax Man and the Pharisee
9-12 He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’
13 “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”
14 Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”
Hmmm…Do I get to pick which character I want to be?
Neither one is appealing.
And, as God so often does, He reminded me that it’s not about me.
It’s not about how much good I’ve done. Or how much bad I’ve done.
It’s about Him and my recognition and acknowledgment of my need for a Rescuer.
To me, the most important verse in the whole parable is verse 14…
God gave mercy and forgiveness when asked.
God continues to give mercy and forgiveness when asked.
Jesus is the only One who can make us “right” and “justified” before God.
That’s the gospel. And, that’s the only hope I have because I am too often the Pharisee (the self-righteous, trying to be right on my own) and too often the Tax Collector (the scandalous, “bad” guy).
So, here’s my story that was shared on Sunday at church. If you’re interested in the sermon, you can find it here. I highly recommend it.