Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem to teach the people. When he taught them, he often used stories about things the people would be familiar with. These stories had a special name: parables.
Sometimes Jesus used parables to let the people know important information about God and heaven. And other times, he used parables as a way to answer questions or respond to the wrong things people were saying or doing.
One day, Jesus decided to tell a parable in response to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the Temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector,” Jesus began.
The Pharisees were members of a very influential religious party. Many times, Jesus chastised them for not practicing what they preached to the people. In turn, the Pharisees did not like Jesus very much and were always trying to find ways to make him look bad in the eyes of the people.
Tax collectors were people who worked for the hated Roman Empire. They collected tax money from the people and often cheated them. In turn, tax collectors were considered to be sinners, and the people did not like them and wanted nothing to do with them.
Jesus said that the Pharisee took up his position and said a silent prayer.
“O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity — greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector,” the Pharisee prayed. “I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.”
Jesus said that the tax collector prayed to God in a very different way. He stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven. He beat his chest as he began his prayer.
“O God, be merciful to me a sinner,” the tax collector prayed.
Jesus looked at the people as he finished his parable.
“I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted,” Jesus said.
READ MORE ABOUT IT:
1. What parable did Jesus tell?
2. Which man went home justified?
What parable did Jesus tell in response to those who complained that he welcomed and ate with sinners and tax collectors? (Hint: Luke 15)
Answer: The parable of the lost sheep
In biblical times, tax collectors were hated by the people.
Tax collectors were people who worked for the Roman Empire. Not only did they collect tax money on behalf of Rome, they also told the people to pay more than what they owed and kept the rest for themselves.
Even though tax collectors were despised, Jesus spent quite a bit of time with them.
Sometimes Jesus ate meals with tax collectors, as he did in Matthew 9:9-13. The Pharisees did not approve and questioned why Jesus would associate with such sinners.
“I did not come to call the righteous but sinners,” Jesus said.
Also in that same Scripture passage, we learn that Jesus called the tax collector Matthew to be one of his apostles.
And in Luke 19:1-10, we read that Jesus was in Jericho, where a rich chief tax collector named Zacchaeus lived.
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus. Since Zacchaeus was short and wanted a good view, he climbed a tree and waited for Jesus to pass by.
When Jesus reached the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”
Zacchaeus was overjoyed, but the people grumbled that Jesus was going to stay at the home of a sinner.
But Jesus’ love and mercy gave Zacchaeus a change of heart. He promised to give half of his possessions to the poor and repay what he had stolen from the people.
St. Engelbert was born in Berg, Germany, in 1186. He became the archbishop of Cologne, Germany, in 1217.
Engelbert was known for being generous to the poor and being fair when settling disputes.
He was martyred in 1225 by his own cousin and other nobles after demanding that his cousin make restitution to nuns in Essen for stealing their property.
We remember him on Nov. 7.
Unscramble each word and arrange them to form a quotation from the children’s story.
entw, raea, wot, het, ot, epploe, ot, pu, plemte, yarp
Answers: went, area, two, the, to, people, to, up, Temple, pray
Two people went up to the Temple area to pray.