This paper discusses one of the parables from the Gospel of St. Luke and the way in which it supports Jesus’ teachings. (4+ pages; 1 source; MLA citation style)
The Gospels are interesting because they tell the same story four different ways, using different techniques. In Luke, parables play an important part in Jesus’ teachings. These little mini-sermons get to the heart of the matter and exhort Jesus’ followers to consider their behavior and what it means to their future.
This brief paper considers one of the parables from St. Luke and what it means to the rest of that particular Gospel. I’m using Chapter 18, verses 9-14.
I’ve chosen this parable because it seems easier to understand than the others that were suggested. I’m also using a Bible I’ve had for years, which may make a difference. In this version (Revised Standard), the parable is of the two men who went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector:
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ 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!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18, 11-14).
... gospel perhaps than in others as for instance in chapter 15, known for its parables of the lost which begins with tax collectors ... many events recorded solely by Luke:- • Births of John and Jesus, Luke chapters 1 v 5 and ... found this difficult to accept. God in man, yet not someone who would perform miracles ... by coming to earth in order eventually that man will be restored in his relationship with God ...
The meaning of this parable is clear; in fact, it’s right there in the last line: “He who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” This is a strong admonition against the sin of pride, which is of course one of the seven deadly sins. In addition, however, there is an implied “threat” in the parable, if I might take the liberty to express it in those terms. It’s pretty clear that if man doesn’t mend his ways, God will humble him. Just exactly what sort of form the punishment will take is also fairly clear: man will not be able to get into heaven.
This parable is only one of many that Jesus tells throughout this section of the Gospel of St. Luke. If we read through them, they seem to reveal a common thread, and that, strangely enough, is money. This parable alludes to a tax collector, and a Pharisee; the Pharisees were wealthy. Other parables include the one about the shepherd searching for one lost lamb (a matter of property); another tells of a son asking his father for his share of property; a third discusses a rich master and his rascally steward. Many of the parables in this section deal with worldly assets and the hold they have on men. But there are deeper meanings as well.
In these parables, as in the one I quoted in full above, inevitably it is Jesus’ intent to demonstrate that wealth is unimportant in the eye of God; that in fact it has nothing to do with whether or not a person is good. Wealth, in fact, is not something to be desired, worked for or fought over, but rather something to give away. It is more important, Jesus is saying, to be humble, do good and help others than it is to make money.
Even deeper, and an ever-present lesson in the Gospels, is the idea that God will not abandon those who abide by his laws, though it is equally clear that he will punish those who break them. When the tax collector asks forgiveness for being a sinner, it is clear that God will forgive him, because the man has recognized his own sinful nature. (The idea of man coming to an understanding of his own faults, and asking forgiveness for them, is a strong theme in Christian belief.) The Pharisee is practicing all sorts of devotions, but he is also calling attention to himself; in other words, his religious fervor is a sort of sham, designed to “impress” God by “showing off”. However, Jesus understands that the type of self-aggrandizement he’s showing is completely against God’s wishes, and his own teachings.
The influence of Jesus of Nazareth, the man, was enormous in his lifetime two millenniums ago, but even more incredible is how his influence has increased today as a member of Christianity's Holy Trinity. Nearly two billion of the world's people worship Jesus as the Son of God today, and even more participate in the mission he began of giving oneself through service to others. Jesus was born ...
At a very basic level, of course, this parable is like the others in the gospel. That is, it has the same format: it’s a very short example of human behavior that ends with a strong moral lesson. All of the parables are designed to bring man away from his sinful nature into a closer relationship with God, and Jesus uses them consistently to make his points. Telling parables, and using concrete examples from daily life to explain his meaning, is one of the most effective teaching tools it’s possible to imagine. Jesus is very good at using these little examples to make his meaning clear to his followers. This particular parable supports the others in Luke, and in general his teachings as reported throughout this Gospel.
The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector supports the other parables of Jesus in several ways. First, it is in the same format as the others: a very brief example taken from human nature ending in a strong moral point. Second, it deals with material goods, as do most of the others. Third, it suggests money is unimportant, something that should be gotten rid of, not desired. And finally, it suggests that God will not abandon those who obey his laws, though he will swiftly punish those who do not. The parables are perfect lessons that support Jesus’ teachings.
The Holy Bible. Revised Standard Version. New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1953.