the Pharisee within me
Think about the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).
I used to think that I knew the answer is to the question “Which man went down justified?” but that’s only because I didn’t really understand the parable. Nobody listening to Jesus thought it would be the tax collector who went away from the temple justified. Not me or my church brothers or sisters. Not even Pharisees. Nobody.
I sometimes say to people, “Just think about these two men. You’re an Christian. Which of these two are you more like? Don’t you say to God, ‘I thank you that I’m not like others; I thank you that you’ve helped me to new life’; I thank you that you’ve helped me to give away my time, talent; my treasure.’
When I begin to think of these phrases, these words, this type of thinking elevates the Pharisee with me. I make myself into a thing, a non-living being: an idol.
I become as the ruling council leaders in Acts who ‘cover’ their ears and their hearts when Stephen speaks to them; as the Simon in Luke 7 who sits at the dinner table and watches in heart Judgement ( with a capital ‘J’) as the sinful woman washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, I look, but do not see; listen, but do not hear; I read without understanding. I make myself part of every biblical Pharisee’s story.
That is who I am on this Parable.
And that’s very, very disturbing: to think and know that though I trust in Christ, there’s a Pharisee deep down inside me. A root, my radix.
Jesus tells these parables to get us to go deep inside of ourselves to see whether we really understand the gospel and whether the gospel is really beginning to grow new roots in our lives. He wants us to ask ourselves: who are we in these stories: a Prodigal son? a Samaritan? a Tax Collector? An unmerciful servant? ( Matthew )
Parables are stories, yes. But their ultimate purpose is to surgically remove spiritual idols we have created from our own hearts.
Psalm 135 describes what I become as I form them:
The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
nor is there breath in their mouths.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.
I become a Pharisee, inside and out.
We can truly and only give, become like Christ, whether we are tax collectors or Pharisees, homemakers or teachers, caregivers or business people, when we first received Him.ash yourselves in His word, Psalms, His parables.
Ask yourself: who I’m I in this parable; who, why am I in His story now, today? Where do you want me to walk; to see; to hear?
What do you want to be, to do? How can we remove this Pharisee within?
Wash, receive and be. Trust in Him. Trust the Parables to speak your story.
appendix quote (not to used)
Isaiah 6: 9-10
And he said, “Go, and say to this people:
“ ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears