Luke 18: 9-14

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Luke 18: 9-14 by Mind Map: Luke 18: 9-14

1. Introduction

1.1. Jesus went against the idea of pharisees being perfect beings by telling a story about a tax collector who was declared justified by God instead of the pharisee due to his humble confessions.

1.2. The parable of the pharisee and the tax collector is about two people at a temple to pray: the pharisee and the tax collector. The pharisee prays in the front of the temple, standing up. He thanks God for him not being like other men who are evil. The pharisee also brags to God about how good he is. The tax collector stands far away, not able to look up as he beat his chest while praying. He asks God for forgiveness and to have mercy on him, a sinner.

1.3. The background story of this passage goes as such: Jesus was heading to Jerusalem when ten men with leprosy came to Him, asking to be healed. So being the wonderful self He is, Jesus heals the ten, only to be thanked by one. Then, when the pharisees asked when the kingdom of God will come, Jesus states that he is the kingdom of God. Soon after, Jesus tells His disciples to pray all the time, not give up, and to fear God at all times by telling the parable of a judge. A judge did not fear God but feared people, making him judge and make decisions in fear of the villagers. God looked down at him and disapproved. After that, Jesus speaks to those who are confident about their righteousness. The parable about the pharisee who prays with pride and the tax collector that prays with shame is told. Then, people brought their babies and children for Jesus to bless. But the disciples stopped them, only for Jesus to scold them. Jesus says that it is the children who will receive the kingdom of God. Following that, a smart student asks how to reach the kingdom of God. Sadly, he did not get the answer he wanted to hear because Jesus told him to sell everything he has and give it to the poor. Lastly, Jesus prepares the twelve to head to Jerusalem, but the disciples have no idea why even after Jesus explains to them.

2. Historical Context

2.1. While reading the text, there are some major historical context people come across and get confused due to the fact that the culture back in the first century and the culture of the twenty first century are all very different. It is only possible for misunderstandings to happen.

2.2. This parable is told to and for those people who think that they are good enough to go to heaven on their own because they trust themselves more than they trust God the Holy Father. This is a big mistake because everybody is guilty of sinning (The Open Bible). Though periods for prayer were daily scheduled as a connection with the morning and evening sacrifices, the temple was always open for those who wished to pray and communicate with God. This meant that even the lowest of the low and the poorest of the poor could pray with the highest of the high and richest of the rich. During the first century, tax collectors were called publicans. They had a bad reputation because they were known to work for the Romans and often required payments that were more than required for their own good. Therefore, not many people liked the publicans (Luke). However, standing while praying was a posture often used for praying, so that itself did not show the pride of the pharisee (Friedrichsen). In Luke and most other books of the Bible, the concept of social classes was quite strict and rigid. Therefore, talking down and bad about pharisees was someone people were not able to do back in the days. So imagine how shocked people would have been when Jesus told this story. Imagine how furious and offended the pharisees must have been, hearing Jesus as he preached this parable (The Open Bible).

3. Literary Context

3.1. The Bible contains some complex writings and phrases that are hard to understand at times. The translators have managed to translate it in a way where the reader may understand better. But some phrases and sentences have double meanings or hidden meanings that are hard to spot. Also, some actions that, though people use today, others may still be confused with appear multiple times throughout the text.

3.2. The previously told parable was about a judge who did not believe in God. And to foil that story, Jesus tells this parable. The irony of the text rings ever so clearly. When the pharisee is standing and thanking God for not being like others in pride, he is bringing himself down to where he now stands lower than the very people he thinks bad of (Friedrichsen). The pride and confidence he has in himself causes his prayers to be defied; because the pharisee thinks himself righteous, he is putting a frown on God's face (Tenney). And even though he addresses God in his so called prayer, he is really talking to himself, reviewing his righteousness (Kilgallen,). However, the tax collector cannot even look up to the heavens as he is only able to cry that he is a sinner (Tenney). Often, beating one's breast is an act of remorse. So when the tax collector was beating his breasts as he cried out to God, he was doing go in repentance. Also, when the tax collector begs God to have mercy on him, that mercy could also mean to mend the relationship between himself and God that he has ruined due to his sins. The tax collector wished to restore the broken relationship that he himself has caused (Luke). The publican was "justified". That term means that he was declared righteous and not made righteous. When Jesus categorizes these two people, he is showing a clear picture of how there will be a group of people who will fall when the time comes and also another group who will be saved and make it to heaven (Kilgallen).

4. Theological Context

4.1. In the text, what about God? Not many readers think about God and what the story says about God-- it is often a forgotten perspective. What does the text say about God?

4.2. Seeking God's kingdom is a hard task because the kingdom of God is a gift from God. God gracefully and freely absolves the sinners, not because of the faith and strength of the sinners' religion, but because God loves His children (Ladd). God looks down at the tax collector and saw him to be righteous and forgave the tax collector's sins. Because of that, the tax collector walks out of the temple and goes home justified before God (Luke). When the tax collector prayed, he did not brag and boast, but confessed and begged for God's forgiveness and God forgave him. This also portrays the truth about praying. Praying should not be about boasting in one's self but in praising others and thanking God. Although the pharisee mentions God, he really just ends up praying to himself; the pharisee did not exactly want an answer from God for that matter (Friedrichsen). There is nothing wrong with the law. The pharisee was not justified by God because of how overbearing he was. One of the big problems of the pharisee is that he thought himself to be perfect, flawless, and sinless (Ladd), causing him to be ignorant to all the rest of God's people and treated them as if they were lower than he. The tax collector was a different story. The publican himself may have been quite low in status and dirty in reputation recognized his own inner evil and wrongdoing and confessed to God from the depths of his heart. Confession is a trait that God values and wants from his people (The Open Bible).

5. Conclusion

5.1. The idea of the pharisee being the bad character of the story was mind blowing to the audience. So the parable of the pharisee and the publican told by Jesus was rejected by many of those who did not understand the main point and moral of the story. The disciples had a hard time understanding and interpreting Jesus's parables even without the historical barrier. Therefore, it is only obvious that readers today are confused. Without the knowledge of the historical, literary, or theological context, the story may be difficult to understand. Jesus would have been a great writer because He knew just how to use irony, similes, hyperbole, analogies, and so many other literary devices. Jesus makes a couple points with this parable. One, God hates the prideful. Two, God will declare someone justified instead of making them justified. Three, God will forgive those who confess and acknowledge that they themselves are a sinner. Four, the people at the top of the social class will not be any less sinless than those on the streets. Five, social class will neither earn favoritism from God nor stop Jesus from criticizing; the parable teaches that when praying, one should be humble and not pray to one self.

6. Works Cited

6.1. Friedrichsen, Timothy A. Kilgallen, John J. The Importance of the Redactor in Luke 18,9-14. Vol. 79. N.p.: GBPress- Gregorian Biblical, 1998. Print. Vol. 124. N.p.: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005. Print.

6.2. Kilgallen, John J. The Importance of the Redactor in Luke 18,9-14. Vol. 79. N.p.: GBPress- Gregorian Biblical, 1998. Print.

6.3. Ladd, George Eldon. A Theology of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974. Print.

6.4. Luke. Zondervan NIV Study Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002. Print.

6.5. The Open Bible. Korean Translation Vers. London: Church Literature Association, 1938. Print.

6.6. Tenney, Merrill C. New Testament Survey. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961. Print.