9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Jesus didn’t mince his words. In illustrating that anyone can be forgiven, he uses 2 extreme examples of his people coming to him. I expect Jesus’ listeners would have been shocked to hear that the hated tax collector was justified, rather than the righteous Pharisee.
I remember hearing Rev Billy Graham preach that even Hitler could be forgiven, and wondering if such a thing could be true. Did Jesus death on the cross count for such an evil person?
There are things in my life I’ve struggled to accept that I have forgiveness for. I’ve carried these around like dragging chains, not convinced I can move on and know I am forgiven. The forgiveness which is freely given to each of us who humbly confess our need for God’s mercy, is the same for every person. As Psalm 100 v 5 says “his mercy is everlasting”. His heart is full of mercy.
This parable speaks to me that it’s not what I bring, but that it is God who restores me to himself. My hope is in the Lord.
Jesus, you showed the Father’s mercy to its fullest extent in dying in my place. I don’t deserve your forgiveness. I’m sorry. I can’t bring anything to complete what you have done for me. Thank you. Amen
Written by Claire Moore