A Short Study of Luke 18:9
“And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.”
Christ spoke the parable in Luke 18 to the Pharisees who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others.” What we say about others and how we treat them often reveals more about us than it does them. Sad as it is, all people, even believers, are by nature like these Pharisees. Self-righteousness plagues us all our days. Often we manifest this self-righteous spirit in our attitude toward others. Christ said they believed themselves to be righteous and “despised others.” Christ illustrates this in the parable of two men that went up to the temple to pray.
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” (Luke 18:11)
His prayer was really about his superiority over others. Listen to how he speaks of the man: “this Publican.” His speech revealed contempt for a man he probably didn’t even know. He probably put the man in this class based upon what someone had told him about him. They both had come as worshippers but only one of them was really righteous, the man that God said was righteous! That man was not looking at or talking about others; he was concerned about his own state and condition! He smote himself upon his breast and cried out to God saying, “God be merciful to me THE SINNER.” How can a sinner saved by God’s mercy and grace alone in Christ despise any other sinner?
When Isaiah saw the LORD high and lifted up he cried, “Woe is me!”
When Job saw what he was before the thrice holy God he cried, “I abhor MYSELF!”
Those who see themselves as miserable sinners saved only by sovereign mercy cry, “I am undone!”
Like Daniel they confess, “my comeliness was turned in me into corruption.”
Paul said, “O wretched man that I AM!”
In reality, we ARE just like other men BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD! He alone makes us to differ! Furthermore, the man the Pharisee was talking about was one of God’s elect. Better to have a millstone tied around your neck and be cast into the sea than to offend one of Christ’s little ones.
Christ said he “went down to his house JUSTIFIED” – Declared righteous before God through the righteousness of Christ! What the Pharisee said about him didn’t change what he was before God one bit, and I am so thankful that the same is true for all God’s people! The worst they can say might be true, but only what God says of us in Christ counts. I might be “despised” but I’m “justified.”