International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday May 15, 2016
Purpose: To value the genuine humility that marks life in the Spirit
Bible Lesson: Luke 18:9-14
Key Verse: But the tax collector stood at a distance. He wouldn’t even lift his eyes to look toward heaven. Rather, he struck his chest and said, ‘God, show mercy to me, a sinner.’ (Luke 18:13)
Luke 18:9-14 (CEB)
(9) Jesus told this parable to certain people who had convinced themselves that they were righteous and who looked on everyone else with disgust: (10) “Two people went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. (11) The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself with these words, ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like everyone else —crooks, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. (12) I fast twice a week. I give a tenth of everything I receive.’ (13) But the tax collector stood at a distance. He wouldn’t even lift his eyes to look toward heaven. Rather, he struck his chest and said, ‘God, show mercy to me, a sinner.’ (14) I tell you, this person went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.”
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This is our third lesson on faith, we have looked at “Increased Faith” and “Grateful Faith,” today we will look at “Humble Faith.”
As you read today’s text it would be easy to get things backwards. Contrary to what you may have been taught or believe the Pharisee was not seen as a villain in Jesus day, while the Tax Collector was always seen as a villain.
The Pharisee in Jesus story was looked upon as someone to be admired. Even today most churches would gladly welcome someone who fasted, prayed daily and tithed. Most would call him an ideal member or a good recruit.
Unfortunately, the Tax Collector, because of his profession, would not be as welcome in our congregations, unless he adopted the habits of the Pharisee.
The point most of us miss in the story is that we are all sinners and none of us are righteous enough to seek favor from God. Isaiah 64:6 says “We have all become like the unclean: all our righteous deeds are like a menstrual rag. All of us wither like a leaf; our sins, like the wind, carry us away". Or as is says in Romans 3:10 “As it is written, there is no righteous person, not even one."
The point of Jesus teaching is; that no matter how hard you try, righteousness comes from God, the Tax Collector did the only thing that he could do, repent, and have the humble faith to believe he was heard by God. Not because he was good or righteous but because God is good and righteous.
We need to adopt the Pharisee’s habits and the Tax Collectors humbleness. I think the Charles Wesley hymn “Depth of Mercy” might say it best.