What to expect
We’ve already encountered some tax collectors from the previous passage. They were there with other “sinners” listening to Jesus’ parables about the lost and found.
In Jesus’ time, tax collectors were Jewish people who collected tax from fellow Jews, on behalf of the Roman occupiers (non-Jews). Furthermore, they would help themselves to a decent slice of the tax!
But in this account, Jesus explained, again through a parable, that even someone as reviled as a tax collector can stand justified before God. How is that possible?
The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
13 ‘But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
14 ‘I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’