Introduction and Index
Jesus told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else. "Once there were two men who went up to the Temple to pray: one was a Pharisee, the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, "I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer like everybody else. I fast two days a week, and I give you a tenth of all my income." But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, 'God, have pity on me, a sinner!' I tell you," said Jesus, "the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For everyone who makes himself great will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be made great." - Luke 18 v 9-14
"God has shown how much he loves us - it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us." - Romans 5 v 8
One thing really puzzles me. Lord. Why do you care about ordinary people like me? It is not as if I am important in any way. Still less is it because I am exceptionally good. I know only too well how bad I am. I have done so many wrong things. Even in my own eyes I am bad. What must I seem like to you? I have been evil all my life. So you are completely right if you judge me and condemn me. Yet again and again you teach me in the Bible that I really do matter to you. More than that, you assure me that you do love me and you do want to be my friend.
I know you told that story about the tax collector to encourage people like me who recognise their faults that you are merciful and that you will forgive when I say I am sorry. Because of your great mercy wipe away all my sins! Wash away all my evil and make me I clean from my sin!