Luke 17 11 19 Commentary

Recently my family has found ourselves in some pretty interesting situations. In particular, this past February seemed pretty full of various trials and difficulties.

At the beginning of the month, our youngest son broke his sub-orbital bone in a sledding accident which required emergency surgery. Then I and both my boys suffered through the flu for about 5-7 days each.

And in both cases – with my son’s eye issue and my own physical health – it was a great relief to have functionality restored in my life. I was so grateful in the hospital as it became apparent that the surgery for my son’s eye was effective. And as my son’s double-vision has subsided my heart has been full of thankfulness. And then as my fever left, what a blessing it was to actually be able to get out of my bed and go back to work!

And so, it seems like in my life at least the level of deprivation that I was lifted out of served to fuel my thanksgiving.

And you know – God often intends things to work that way. He deprives you – takes things away or withholds things from you… in order to fuel your thanksgiving and gratitude toward him when he releases you from that deprivation – when he finally provides what you were lacking.

And so, for our time this morning I’d like to lead us briefly through a story in the life of Jesus Christ that demonstrates this principle of deprivation leading to thanksgiving – and the importance that God places on that second element – the importance of our giving God thanks and being thankful people.

So, let’s turn to Luke 17. And we’ll be considering verses 11 through 19. I’ll just read through the passage adding some comments and some thoughts at the end concerning how God intends to use deprivation to produce thanksgiving in our lives.

Setting the Scene

First of all, Luke sets the scene for us in verses 11 and 12.

KJV Luke 17:11 ¶ {And it came to pass, as he went/While he was on the way/Now on the way} to Jerusalem, {that he passed through the midst of/He was passing between/Jesus was passing along between/Jesus traveled along the border between} Samaria and Galilee.

So, Jesus is going from north-eastern Israel in Galilee and he’s heading down south to Jerusalem. And the route he’s taking is leading him right along the border between Galilee and Samaria.

Now, of course that mention of Samaria will become more important later on in the story.

On to verse 12…

12 {And as he entered into a certain/As he was going into a} village, there met him ten {men that were lepers/leprous men/men with leprosy}, {which stood afar off/who stood at a distance}:

So, Jesus comes to a particular village as he’s on his way to Jerusalem. And he meets 10 lepers.

Now, leprosy has been an incurable disease for much of the history of the world. From Old Testament times (and likely before that) until actually the 1940s there was no known cure for leprosy (

And what’s worse is that this spread from person to person. As a result, the leprous person experienced a great deal of deprivation. He had to live among other lepers, leaving his family and friends and all that he ever knew. It was a miserable existence.

An Urgent Request

Well, these lepers see Jesus from a distance and they have an urgent request for him.

13 And they {lifted up their/raised their/called out with loud} voices, and said,

Jesus, Master, have {mercy/pity} on us.

Mercy or pity is what the rich man in hell requested of Abraham. It’s what the blind beggar in Jericho requested from Jesus. It’s the request of one who has no resources and is in a pitiable condition… as that one is looking to someone else whom they believe can relieve some of their pain and suffering and deficiencies.

Jesus Answers

Well, Jesus doesn’t even hesitate in answering their request.

14 And when he saw them, he said unto them,

Go {shew/and show} yourselves {unto/to} the priests.

Now, this is what the Old Testament required that a leper who was cleansed of his leprosy do to verify his cleansing from this otherwise incurable disease. Apparently sometimes it would just go away on its own – and when it did, the former leper needed to go show himself to a priest to have this fact verified.

Obedience Leads to Cleansing

So, for these lepers in this story, the implication is that Jesus cleansed them already of their leprosy – only he hadn’t, just yet. Because the verse goes on to describe that very thing happening.

And {it came to pass, that, as they went,/as they were going/as they went} they were cleansed.

So, they obeyed Jesus’ command. And as they did, he healed their leprosy.

They beg for cleansing. He says to go. So, they go – and as they do what he tells them to do, they get what they were asking for.

Now, the story could end there and we’d all be amazed at Jesus’ power to heal people of leprosy in a time when no cure for this disease existed. But that’s not the main point of this story. Jesus wants us to consider and know the importance of giving him thanks as he provides for us after a time of deprivation.

One in Ten

So, we hear the continuing story of one of those ten lepers in verse 15.

15 {And one/Now one/Then one/One} of them, when he saw that he {was/had been} healed, {turned/came} back, {and with a loud voice glorified God,/glorifying God with a loud voice/praising God with a loud voice}

So, just like all ten lepers cried out with a loud voice for healing back in verse 13, so now this one former leper cries out with a loud voice once more. And this time it’s not with a request. This time, he cries out with praise to God.

A Surprising Detail

So, he returns to the one who had healed him and we learn a kind of surprising detail about this man in verse 16.

16 {And fell down on his face/He fell with his face to the ground/He threw himself} at {his/Jesus’} feet, {giving him thanks/and thanked him}:

{and/Now} he was a Samaritan.

This man is so thankful and full of gratitude. And who wouldn’t be!

Well…how about the other 9 former lepers? All were cleansed. But only this one comes back to praise God.

So, you’d think that maybe this one is a very pious man – a man who is very close to God.

Nope. He’s a Samaritan. A loathed, despised, half-breed Samaritan. The kind of guy that most Jews of Jesus’ day would look at askance. Not only because he was an unclean leper – but because he was also an unclean Samaritan!

Jesus Marvels

And yet, he’s the one out of ten that is returning to praise the Lord. What a marvel! And that’s actually just how Jesus feels in verse 17.

17 {And Jesus answering said,/Then Jesus answered and said/Then Jesus said/Jesus asked}

Were {there not/not} {ten/all ten} cleansed?

The answer? Yes – all ten were cleansed.

{but where are the nine/But the nine– where are they/Where are the other nine}?

Answer – who knows! I guess the other nine were off enjoying their cleansed state without another thought of the one who cleansed them. They were enjoying the benefits of what Jesus is able to do for a person without enjoying Jesus himself.

More Marveling

So, Jesus continues to marvel at the nature of this one out of ten who returned to praise God.

18 {There are not/Was there no one} {found that returned to give/who returned/to turn back and/to return and} {glory/praise} to God, {save/except} this {stranger/foreigner}.

So, Jesus marvels that the only one who came back to show his gratitude was this one Samaritan. And this seems to indicate that perhaps all of the other nine former lepers were actually Jews.

What Gratitude to God Indicates

Well, to Jesus, what does this kind of gratitude after deprivation indicate? This is how the story ends in verse 19.

19 {And/Then} {he/Jesus} said {unto/to} {him/the man},

{Arise, go thy way:/Stand up and go/Get up and go your way/Rise and go}

{thy/your} faith {hath/has} made {thee/you} {whole/well}.

Now wait a second. We didn’t know anything about faith here. The passage has told us nothing explicitly about this Samaritan’s faith. All we knew was that this guy was cleansed and that he returned to thank Jesus.

But it’s that very heart of gratitude that Jesus points to as evidence that this man possessed true faith in him.


And each of us can learn from the example of this Samaritan. Has God allowed you to experience a time of deprivation? Maybe it’s not as severe as the leper. But maybe you feel like in some ways it’s more severe. Whatever the case, perhaps God has taken something away from you that you feel is vital to a happy life. Or maybe he’s just never given it to you in the first place.

And perhaps God has subsequently turned to you and been gracious and provided for your need. What is your response to be? A gratitude and thankfulness to Jesus Christ that displays your true faith in him.

And for many of us, perhaps we really in many ways lack nothing. Maybe you’re not experiencing deprivation of any sort as far as you can tell. Well, do you suppose that Jesus wants something different or less from you than your praising him with your lips from your heart?

What Jesus wants from the person who has no need is the same as he wants from the person who is full of needs. He wants gratitude that displays your true faith in him.

So may the Lord give each of us such a heart to thank him – especially after he meets our needs after allowing us to experience times of deprivation.

Sermon for Children from Luke 2:40-52

All of you in this room are children. Even I’m a child – because I have parents. I don’t live in their home anymore, but I still recognize that I am their child and they are my parents.

But many years ago, I did live in their house. I did eat their food. They did buy me clothes. They paid for my education and my medical care and whatever else I needed.

When I think about it, my parents did a lot for me. They weren’t perfect of course, but God used them to provide for me.

And I would assume that you all have similar circumstances {I am teaching this to 10-12 years-olds…} Your parents aren’t perfect, but they do provide for you. They do make sure that your basic needs are met.

So, I’ve mentioned perfect parents and how none of us have them. No parent is perfect. But did you ever think about being a perfect child?

Are you a perfect child? If you were, what would that look like? How would you treat your parents? How would you interact with your siblings? What would you spend your time doing at home?

The reality is that none of you is a perfect child. You have your flaws and your faults. You have your sins.

But did you know that there has been one perfect child in the entire history of humankind? And that child was Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that he “knew no sin.”

And this is because Jesus’ father was God. So, as God, Jesus was sinless.

And yet, his mother was Mary. And because of that, Jesus was a human who was quite possibly capable of sin.

But he never sinned. He was the perfect child. And if you want to be getting close at all to being that kind of child, you are going to need to be more and more like him. You need to be increasing in your Christlikeness – in your being more and more like Jesus Christ – “Christ-like”.

And so, I want us to look at a story from the life of Jesus Christ in the gospel of Luke in which we see How to be a Perfect (or “Christlike”) Child. Turn to Luke 2. And we’ll be studying verses 40-52 in order to see How to be a Christlike Child.

Let’s first read Luke 2:40-52 and then we’ll study this in detail.

{Read Luke 2:40-52…}

v40 Dependence Upon God for Growth

To begin with, a child who is like Christ is dependent upon God for growth in his or her life like Jesus was in verse 40.

KJV Luke 2:40 And the child {grew/continued to grow}, and {waxed/become/became} {strong in spirit/strong}, {filled with/increasing in} wisdom: and the {grace/favor} of God was upon him.

So, this is speaking here of the time between when Jesus was a baby and when he was twelve years old. And all the Bible tells us about this time in Jesus’ life is that he grew. So, a child who wants to be more like Jesus also needs to grow.

You need to grow naturally. This includes both physical growth and mental growth. Your body needs to grow and your mind needs to grow.

In terms of your body growing the way God wants it to, you need to eat right. That means something other than potato chips and candy every once in a while! So, don’t give your parents a hard time when they serve you some brussels sprouts or broccoli or whatever else you find to be disgusting! It’s for your good in order to help your body grow the way God intends for it.

Also, exercise is important to help your body grow. I hope we don’t have anyone here who just sits around all day! You need to get active and run around. This will help your body grow. So, don’t think that gym class or recess or sports are all worthless. No – they’re part of God growing you physically – growing your body.

And so, you need to grow physically like Jesus did. You also need to grow mentally. Jesus grew in wisdom.

So, if you want to be like Jesus as a child you need to exercise your mind. School work and homework are not bad things. They will help you grow mentally.

And on the flip side, what are some things that will not help you grow mentally? How about plopping yourself in front of the TV or your computer or your phone and mindlessly entertaining yourself for hours? Playing the right kind of games can exercise your mind – but be careful that you aren’t just letting your mind get lazy with all of the games you play. This would not help you grow in wisdom like Jesus did.

And I will add that Jesus wasn’t simply smart. That’s not what it means that he grew in wisdom. Instead, he could take his knowledge and apply it to real life situations. For example, you might know that Jesus is God and that he was perfect and that he died for your sins – but unless you apply that knowledge and actually trust him to save you from your sins, it won’t do any good. You need to take your knowledge – that Jesus is God and sinless and that he loves you and died for you – and you need to do something about that – believe in him.

So, you want to be like Jesus in his physical and mental growth. But as you do these things, you really do need God to be helping you – like he helped Jesus. “The grace of God was upon him.”

God’s grace is when he helps you. When he gives you the things that you need. You are not going to be like Christ without God’s help.

And if you want God’s help, the Bible tells you to humble yourself before God. Don’t be proud. Don’t think that you’re doing just fine and that you don’t need God’s help. If you think you don’t need God’s help – guess what! He’s not going to give it to you. He will resist you and make life hard for you. In fact, maybe that’s the problem in the lives of some of you. Maybe God is making life hard for you because you don’t think you need him. You do need him! We all do.

And so, if you want to be a Christlike child, you need God’s help to grow physically and mentally.

v41 Family Religion

And another really important part of being a Christlike child is your family’s involvement in true biblical religion.

41 ¶ Now {his/Jesus’} parents went to Jerusalem every year {at/for} the feast of the passover.

Now, the Passover was a religious event that God’s people in the Old Testament would celebrate every year. It was a time when they would remember that God saved them out of slavery. God wanted his people to remember and celebrate that at least every year.

And what we see in verse 41 is that Jesus’ parents – Mary and Joseph – would do what God wanted them to do by going to the Passover celebration in Jerusalem – their capital city.

And this is kind of out of your control in some ways. You as a child are not going to be able to make your parents follow God. You can’t make your parents get involved in biblical religious things like going to church and reading the Bible and praying.

But you can encourage them to do this. Some of your parents are here today at church and some are not. If your parents aren’t here, maybe you can invite them to come! You can ask them to read the Bible to you tonight and every night. You can ask your parents to pray before you eat your meals or before you go to bed.

And maybe what your parents need to see is you doing these things – you reading your Bible – you praying – you continuing to come to church.

And we as a church pray that you would grow to become more like Jesus Christ as your family gets involved in true biblical religion.

v42 Personal Religion

But it’s not enough that your family is involved in true biblical religion. You yourself need to be personally involved. Because this is what we see Jesus doing in verse 42.

42 {And when/When} he {was twelve years old/became twelve}, they went {up to Jerusalem/up there/up} {after the custom of the feast/according to the custom of the Feast/according to custom}.

Again, it’s Jesus’s whole family going to Jerusalem for this biblical religious celebration. But he’s with them. He is personally participating in this celebration and time of worship.

And we might have some here today whose family comes to church – but you really have no interest. You’re here because your parents are here and therefore you must be here!

But if you had a choice, where would you be? What would you be doing?

Well, Jesus is God. He could have been doing whatever he wanted. And what did he want to do? He wanted to meet with God’s people and obey God’s commandments for them and worship the Lord his Father.

And we’re going to see in a little while that Jesus was a willing participant in this. There’s a way to come to church and be with God’s people but your heart is not interested at all in being there. Your body is there but your heart is somewhere else. That’s not what was going on with Jesus. He was all there! And you and I should be, too.

So, you want to be a Christlike child? Take biblical religion seriously on a personal level.

v43-45 Miscommunication/Priorities/Inconvenience

Now, you might get the wrong impression about what life is like for a Christlike child. If you think that being a child who is dependent on God for your growth and whose family is involved in biblical religion and you yourself are also involved – well then, everything is going to be perfect.

That’s simply not the case. In fact, we’re going to see in Jesus’ life that even for a “perfect” or Christlike child:

  • There is still a possibility for miscommunication with your parents
  • Sometimes your spiritual priorities might be different from those of your parents
  • You might end up causing some level of inconvenience for your parents

We see all of these things in Jesus’ life in verses 43-45.

43 {And when they had fulfilled the days/After spending the full number of days/But when the feast was over}, {as they/while his parents} {returned/were returning/were returning home}, the {child/boy} Jesus {tarried/stayed} behind in Jerusalem; {and Joseph and his mother/But his parents/His parents/but they} {knew not of it/were unaware of it/did not know it}.

44 {But they, supposing him to have been/but because they assumed that he was/Thinking he was} in {the company/the caravan/their group of travelers/their company}, {went a day’s journey/they traveled on for a day};

{and/then} they {sought/began looking for} him among their {kinsfolk/relatives} and {acquaintance/acquaintances/friends}.

45 And when they {found him not/did not find him}, they {turned back again/returned/went back} to Jerusalem, {seeking/looking for/to look for} him.

So, we see from Jesus’ life that for a Christlike child, there is still a possibility for miscommunication with your parents. Somehow Jesus and his mother and Joseph had not agreed on a time and place to meet and then leave Jerusalem.

And you – even if you are striving to be a Christlike child – you might say something that your parents don’t quite understand, or they’ll say something that you don’t hear or you forget. Maybe your parents will tell you something that you don’t understand.

That’s OK in a way. It looks like this is what happened with Jesus. His parents thought he was with them and so they left town without him.

And at times, this disconnect might be because sometimes your spiritual priorities might be different from those of your parents. Especially if your parents are not themselves also Christlike – trusting Christ and following him – but you are following Jesus – then what you think is important spiritually will be different from what they think is important.

And because of all of this, if you are striving to be a Christlike child, you might end up causing some level of inconvenience for your parents. You might make their life a little difficult if you are following Christ and they are not. And the opposite is true, too. If your parents are the ones who are trying to be like Christ, and you aren’t, then you’ll still probably tend to make their life difficult.

And quite honestly, even when parents and child are both pursuing the Lord there’s still a possibility for life being a bit difficult.

And that’s OK. Just remember that if you are growing to be a child who is like Jesus you might still experience miscommunication with your parents, you might have different priorities than they do, and you might cause them some inconveniences.

v46 Relationship to Spiritual Things/Leaders

Well, another mark of your being like Christ as a child will be your relationship to and interactions with spiritual things and spiritual leaders in your life. Let’s see how Jesus handled these things in verse 46.

46 {And it came to pass, that after/Then, after/After} three days they found him in the {temple/temple courts}, sitting {in the midst of/among} the {doctors/teachers}, {both hearing/both listening to/listening to} them, and asking them questions.

This would be like if your parents came and found you talking with Pastor Kindstedt and me and Mr. Jeremy – and we weren’t just talking about the weather or about your summer vacation or some other thing like that – but we were actually speaking of spiritual and biblical things.

Jesus was comfortable at the age of twelve speaking to spiritual men about spiritual things. Are you?

This is one area that I desire for my own kids – that they would not be afraid of speaking to spiritual leaders and people – even when they’re adults. I think it’s very important that kids learn to speak to adults.

Some of you tend to shy away from speaking to grown-ups in church. Don’t do that. Reach out to us. We’d like to talk with you.

And when you talk with us, we’d like to speak about the Bible. Come with questions. If you have questions that come up throughout the week, write them down and bring them to us on Sunday or Wednesday night and let’s talk about them from the Bible.

And if you’re going to be growing in being like Jesus – and being able to give answers to spiritual people – you’ll need to be reading the Bible yourself.

So, as you desire to be a Christlike child, there needs to be a growing interest in spiritual and biblical things and a growing comfort and familiarity with spiritual people and leaders.

v47 Surprising

Now, quite honestly, it’s very unusual for anyone – especially a kid! – to be like this. And so, don’t be surprised if your being like Jesus is a surprise to others, like we see in Jesus’ life in verse 47.

47 {And all/Everyone} {that/who} heard {him/Jesus} {were/was} {astonished/amazed} at his understanding and {i.e., his…} answers.

Really, if you kids were to come up to Pastor this morning and start asking him spiritual questions and talking to him about what you were reading in your Bible, the reaction from some people might be a happy shock!

Now, obviously Jesus is God and his understanding of spiritual things would have been indeed amazing. But I’m telling you that it wouldn’t take much from some of you to amaze the people here at this church. If you actually were reading your Bible and then came to church and told an adult about what you read, I think even that would cause some of us to be amazed.

Do you want to amaze and surprise people in this church? You don’t need to dress funny, and you don’t need to do weird stuff to your hair, and you don’t need to speak out of turn. You just need to be growing in your likeness to Jesus Christ.

v48-49 Parental Disagreements

Now, it might surprise you to know that even if you are growing in your likeness to Jesus Christ, that there still might be times in which your parents and you don’t see eye-to-eye. This actually happened in Jesus’ life in verses 48 and 49.

48 {And when they/When they/When his parents} saw him, they were {amazed/astonished/overwhelmed}:

{and his/His} mother said {unto/to} him,

{Son/Child}, why {hast thou/have you} {thus dealt with us/treated us this way/treated us like this}? {behold, thy/Behold, your, Look, your/Your} father and I have {sought thee sorrowing/been anxiously looking for you/been looking for your anxiously/been anxiously searching for you}.

49 {And/But} he {said unto them/said to them/replied/he asked},

{How is it that ye sought/Why is it that you were looking for/Why were you looking for/Why were you searching for} me? {wist ye not/Did you not know/Didn’t you know} {that I/I} {must be about/had to be in/must be in} my Father’s {business/house}?

And so, Jesus and his parents didn’t agree in this situation, did they? Mary is kind of angry at Jesus. She was amazed or astonished or overwhelmed. And her question to him kind of reveals that she doesn’t quite know what to say – she’s just kind of angry that she’s just wasted about four days of her life trying to find her son.

Have you ever had a time when your parents didn’t understand why you did something? Maybe they got angry at you. And probably most of the time, they should be angry at you. As children, we make a lot of mistakes and we disobey a lot and we sin quite a bit. And so, it’s a natural response for a parent to get angry at his child when he’s disobeying.

But in Jesus’ case, there was no disobedience. This was God the Son – Jesus – spending time in his Father’s house – in God the Father’s house. Mary speaks of Joseph as if he was Jesus’ father. And Jesus needs to clarify that – no – he had been in his real Father’s house the whole time – in the temple.

And even Jesus’ response doesn’t indicate sin or rebellion or disobedience. He simply states the fact – you should have known where I would have been – in my Father’s house doing my Father’s business.

And again, if you are in the situation where you are personally growing to be more like Jesus Christ but your parents aren’t, this kind of misunderstanding even to the point of disagreement is likely to happen in your family.

v50-51 Obedience to Parents

And so, when you and your parents disagree, you have two choices. You can choose to disobey them, thinking that they don’t know what’s best in your situation. But that’s not what Jesus did.

Rather, in verses 50 and 51 we see Jesus – even though he’s God and even though he’s totally right – obeying and submitting to his earthly and imperfect parents who don’t quite understand him.

50 {And they understood not/But they did not understand/Yet his parents did not understand} {the saying which he spake/the statement which he had made/the remark he made/what he was saying} {unto/to} them.

51 {And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth,/Then he went down to Nazareth with them} and {was subject/he continued in subjection/was obedient} {unto/to} them:

{but/and} his mother {kept/treasured} all these {sayings/things} in her heart.

Jesus’s parents did not understand him. And yet, he obeyed them. Don’t be tempted to think that you should obey your parents only when they completely understand everything about the situation. No – obey your parents even when they might be confused and ignorant about the situation. This is what Jesus did and it’s what you should do as well.

And did you catch that Jesus’ mother even took notice of this event? Even though she didn’t quite understand what was going on, she still remembered these things in her heart. And she probably ended up telling these stories to the writer of this book – the Gospel of Luke. Luke probably heard these stories directly from Jesus’ mother Mary.

And so, if you want to be growing to be more like Jesus Christ, obey your parents even when they don’t perfectly understand you.

v52 Continued Growth

So, if you do these things and are growing in your likeness to Jesus Christ:

  • You are depending on God for growth in every area
  • Your family is involved in biblical religion – or at the very least, you are
  • You might experience miscommunication with your natural family and might have different priorities and place different values on spiritual things than your family would and that possibly leads to some inconvenience for your family
  • And yet you are even growing in your closeness and familiarity with spiritual leaders and spiritual teachings
  • You’re maybe surprising others because of your growing to be more like Jesus
  • You might have disagreements with your parents and yet…
  • You are committed to obeying them

Well, if some or all of these things are happening in your life, then you will very likely experience what Jesus himself experienced as he moved on from this situation in his life that we’ve been studying today – and you will experience continued growth.

52 ¶ And Jesus {increased/kept increasing/grew} in wisdom and {stature/in stature}, and in favour with God and {man/men/with people}.

So, Jesus obeyed his mistaken sinful earthly parents. And catch this – he was not harmed by doing that.

Instead, he grew in every area. He grew mentally – in wisdom. He grew physically – in stature.

And then supernaturally, he grew spiritually – he grew in favor with God. And he grew socially – he grew in favor with man.

Now, the last thing I want to remind us is that there’s only one way for you to grow in favor with God. There’s only one way to get God’s favor – to get him to bless your life. And that is to trust in the one whom we’ve been studying – to place your full faith and trust in Jesus Christ – the only perfect child and the only sinless man who has ever lived.

And he perfectly died for your sins so that if you believe in him, he will save you from your sin and from an eternity separated from God the Father.

It is impossible for you to grow in favor with God unless you humbly confess your sin and trust in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to forgive you all your sin.

If you are trusting in Jesus right now, God will see to it that you grow to be more like him. And if you don’t trust Jesus right now, he is ready to save you from your empty meaningless life and from your dangerous and harmful sin.

So, I urge you to trust in Jesus right now. Why wait? What could you possibly be waiting for?

And if you have trusted Jesus – by God’s grace he will grow you to be more like the perfect child – to be more like Jesus Christ your Savior and example.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

In this post we’re going to study the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. You can find that parable in Luke 18:9-14.

The Audience (Luke 18:9)

Luke 18:9 tells us for whose sake the Lord Jesus Christ spoke this parable.

So, that’s the audience. That’s whom Jesus is speaking to. He’s addressing the kind of person who: 1) trusts in himself and thinks he’s righteous and 2) who thinks little of others.

Are you that kind of person?

Do you think you’re a good person? Are you confident that you are better than others? Are you proud of that fact? Are you trusting in your own goodness? Do you despise those people whom you think are less righteous than you are?

If you’re like that, then this message is for you straight from the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s speaking to you right now. Listen.

The Parable (Luke 18:10-14)

The Scene (Luke 18:10)

Jesus starts to tell a story in Luke 18:10.

Two Guys

So, here these two guys are.


The first guy is a Pharisee. He’s religious. He’s viewed as a model of religious devotion. In Jesus’ days you couldn’t exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. This man was righteous – he was a good man – and he knew it and others knew it.

Tax Collector

The other guy is a publican – a tax collector. Do any of you still have to file your own taxes? When you last filed your taxes, was that a pleasant experience? Some people aren’t too happy with the IRS these days, and it wasn’t any different in Jesus’ day. The Jews in Jesus’ time viewed tax collectors as traitors and almost sub-human.

Summary of the Two Guys

So, we have one really good guy and one really bad guy.

The Temple

And where are these two? Luke 18:10 says that they’re in the Temple. They’re in the place of worship. The place where God’s people gather to praise and worship him. And they’ve come to pray.

Now, no one would be surprised to see the Pharisee in the place of worship in order to pray to God. But I think the appearance of the tax collector might have turned some heads. A man like that might not make it to the Temple very often. He certainly wouldn’t have been welcomed by most people.

The Prayers (Luke 18:11-13)

But nevertheless, they both show up at the Temple in order to pray. And in Luke 18:11-13, we get to hear the prayer of each of these men.

The Pharisee’s Prayer (Luke 18:11-12)

Jesus starts with the prayer of the Pharisee in Luke 18:11-12. So, let’s note a few things about this prayer.

Focus on Self

The content of this prayer is all about the Pharisee himself. He addresses God, but really the prayer is focused on himself.

He’s Not Bad

In Luke 18:11 he thanks God that he isn’t like other people. He’s not a extortioner – he doesn’t obtain things through force or fraud. He’s not unjust or an outwardly sinful person. He’s not an adulterer – he doesn’t commit adultery with someone who isn’t his wife. And he’s probably most thankful of all for the fact that he’s not like this tax collector who came up to the Temple to pray.

He’s Good

Then in Luke 18:12 the Pharisee shifts his focus from what he doesn’t do to what he does positively do. He fasts twice a week. He denies himself food for the sake of prayer two times every week. He also gives one-tenth of all that he owned.


So, taken together, this prayer to God consists of thanksgiving for what the Pharisee was not followed by a bare statement of what he was doing right.


Have you ever prayed this kind of prayer yourself? When you communicate with God, are you always talking about yourself and how good you are and how bad others are?

Have you ever heard this kind of prayer from others? What if you entered this service and the man who leads the people in prayer stood up and thanked God that he wasn’t like all the rest of you folks out in the audience here – and then he proceeded to list all of the good things about himself. What would you think about that?

We’re going to find out what God thinks about that kind of prayer in a few minutes.

The Tax Collector’s Prayer (Luke 18:13)

But first, let’s read Luke 18:13 where we get to hear the prayer of the tax collector and notice a few things.

Similarities Between the Prayers

Now, there are a few similarities between the prayer of the tax collector and that of the Pharisee.

The tax collector and the Pharisee were both in the Temple – the place of worship. They both prayed – they directed their words to God. They both stood up as they did this. They both even spoke of themselves as they prayed.

Differences Between the Prayers


But while the Pharisee stood proudly and proclaimed his own goodness in contrast to the wickedness of everyone else around him – this tax collector was focused only on his own wickedness and on God’s ability to pardon his great sinfulness.


Notice the posture of the tax collector as he prays. He stands just like the Pharisee stood. But he refuses to even lift his eyes to heaven. The weight and shame of his own sinfulness wouldn’t allow it. He beat upon his chest in sorrow over his sins.


And the tax collector’s words are addressed to God just like the Pharisee’s were. But he’s asking God for something. The Pharisee apparently didn’t feel the need to receive anything from God. He was good. He didn’t need a thing – or so he thought. But this tax collector knows he needs mercy from the Lord. He needs his sins to be forgiven. He needs peace with God.


Why does he need peace with God? Because he knows he’s a sinner. Literally, he’s “the sinner”. There are other sinners around, but he’s not thinking about them. He’s thinking about himself. The Pharisee also was thinking about himself – but he was thinking about his own goodness. The tax collector was thinking about his own badness and sinfulness and unworthiness to stand before God.


Have you ever communicated to God like that? Have you ever humbly confessed your own sinfulness to him? Have you ever asked him for mercy?

God’s Response (Luke 18:14)

If you do, then Jesus ends this parable telling you what you can expect if you pray to God with a tender heart and a heart broken by the weight of your sin against a holy God in Luke 18:14.


Jesus says that the sinful wretched tax collector was justified. He was declared righteous. This parable started off with Jesus addressing those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous. This Pharisee was one such man – he trusted in himself that he was righteous. But ultimately, who is Jesus saying was declared by God as being righteous? It’s the sinful tax collector who was so grieved over his own sin and so humbled before God. That’s the kind of person whom God will justify.

But the Pharisee – as externally good and righteous as he thought he was and as he appeared to be in the eyes of others – his prayer didn’t accomplish anything. He came to the Temple thinking that he was righteous, but he leaves with Jesus’ evaluation of him that he was not righteous after all.

Why? Why would the sinner walk away from the Temple righteous while the externally righteous man walks away unrighteous? End of Luke 18:14.

Two Choices

Here’s the point. There are two actions under discussion – exalting and humbling. Every one of us has the choice of doing one or the other for ourselves. We can exalt ourselves or we can humble ourselves.

Exalt Self

If we exalt ourselves – if we’re lifted up with pride over our own goodness – if we think that we’re good in God’s sight – then Jesus Christ promises that we will be forcibly humbled.

Humble Self

But if we humble ourselves – if we acknowledge our own sin and unrighteousness – if our hearts are broken by the weight of our sin against a holy and totally-righteous God – then Jesus Christ promises that he will exalt us. He will justify us. He will declare us righteous.


Where are you today? Are you’re the proud self-righteous person whom God will need to humble? Or are you the humble sinner who knows your need of mercy from God – the God who promises to resist the proud but to give grace to the humble?