The Radicality Of Grace: “The Pharisee And The Tax Collector” (Luke 18:9–14) As A Parable Of Jesus -- By: Thorwald Lorenzen
FM 3:2 (Spring 1986) p. 66
The Radicality Of Grace:
“The Pharisee And The Tax Collector” (Luke 18:9–14)
As A Parable Of Jesus
Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics,
Baptist Theological Seminary, Ruschlikon, Switzerland
We know this parable very well. It has enriched our preaching and teaching. And yet, a closer examination of it may lead to the experience that what we thought to be very familiar becomes strange to us again. That is the first step of good biblical exegesis. Too easily do we subject the biblical text to our ideas and interests. But if the Bible is the word of God, we must expect it to say new things to us, to surprise us. And if it is really the word of God, this surprise will be one of joy and liberation: “... where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17). When we discover that God loves and accepts us, it is like finding an unexpected treasure which releases such joy in us that all else pales into insignificance (compare Mt. 13:44–46). With such expectations we turn to our text; will it become a sacrament of life to us?
The text of our parable reads as follows:
(v. 9 He [Jesus] also spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others:)
10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
vv. 11–12 The Pharisee standing by himself prayed as follows:1 ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men: extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’
v. 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying: ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
v. 14a I tell you, this man went down to his house having been declared right2 rather than the other;
(v. 14b for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”)
Three comments need to made on the text:
(1) We have placed v. 9 and v. 14b in parentheses because they are an interpretation of the original parable of Jesus. In v. You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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