The Pharisee & the Tax Collector

Sermon Notes: The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

By Robin Spengler  BTh. Hons


Read the Parable.

Luke 18:9-14 (ESV) – 9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”


Immediate context:

In Luke 17:20 Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come. This is followed by a series of teachings by Jesus on the kingdom of God and in Luke 18:9-14 we have the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, so the parable is given in the immediate context of the Kingdom of God.


The Main Point
The Self-Righteous will not enter the Kingdom of God.


Pharisee: Those who rely on self-righteousness.
Tax Collector: Those who rely on God.


More Theology

Imparted Righteousness:

The Church. This is also known as infused righteousness and was the main reason for the reformation (1517-1600). Trans-substantiation. Indulgences.
Other religions. Always rules and regulations, Concentrates on good deeds.
Your own views. New age thinking, leading a good life.


Imputed Righteousness:


Romans 3:21-28 (ESV) – 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

The Pharisee
Represents religion or Imparted Righteousness

Thinks his own Goodness and religious efforts will get him into the Kingdom of God.


Thought that his own goodness and his adherence to religious ceremonies were sufficient to entitle his entrance into the kingdom.
Considered himself superior, showed disdain towards those who did not follow his views.
Did not acknowledge his own sin.
Didn’t ask for forgiveness.
His prayers were all about himself.
No sign of gratitude or love towards God.

Tax Collector.
Represents faith and repentance or Imputed Righteousness.

* Aware of his sinful state.

* Cries out to God for mercy.

* Is “Poor in Spirit”.


He stands far off as he is aware of his unworthiness before God

Psalm 38:1-10 (ESV) – 1O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! 2 For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me. 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. 4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, 6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. 7 For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. 9 O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. 10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes – it also has gone from me.


He beats his chest and cries out to God for mercy

Psalm 51:1-10 (ESV) – Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.


He is genuinely, “Poor in Spirit”

Matthew 5:3 (ESV) – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Being Poor in Spirit means.

* I can do nothing to save myself.

* I come to God empty and desperate.

* I realise that good works can’t save me.

* I realise that it is God’s mercy that saves me.





That I can do nothing in my own strength to save myself

Matthew 16:24-25 (ESV) – 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

I come to God empty, spiritually bankrupt, and desperate.
I realise that only God, through his mercy, can save

John 3:14-15 (ESV) – 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

I realise that no amount of good works, knowledge of scripture, church attendance or following of rituals can save me.
That the only work that saves me is the work God has already done on the cross of Jesus.


The five Solas of the Reformation

Sola scriptura (Scripture alone)
Solus Christus (Christ alone)
Sola fide (faith alone)
Sola gratia (grace alone).
Soli Deo gloria (glory to God alone).

Lastly, remember our roots.

These five Solas are the blueprint for our understanding God’s plan.