In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, Jesus contrasts the pharisee boasting in his self-righteousness and a tax collector confessing his sins and seeking God’s mercy. The Pharisee, rather than thanking God for what God has done for him, speaks the Five I’s, revealing his ego-centric self. He is arrogantly bragging to God about his own religious piety and moral purity. However, the tax collector could not even lift up his eyes to heaven but beat his breast, a sign of remorse and sorrow when asking God to be merciful to him as a sinner.
In the sinner’s prayer in Psalm 51:1-2, the psalmist (David) seeks and appeals for God’s mercy and forgiveness. He is using the terms steadfast love and mercy to have God forgive him of his sins, inequity, and transgressions all of these words evoke God’s proclamation of His own name “ The Lord, the Lord, God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness keeping steadfast love for thousands forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin (Exodus 34: 6-7).” Therefore, focusing on God’s grace and kindness. David was pleading for mercy as the tax collector did in a humble manner and acknowledging that one’s forgiveness is based on God’s mercy entirely; furthermore, the tax collector and we, as sinners, acknowledge that we do not deserve God’s mercy and forgiveness.
This parable shows the contrast between the remorse of the tax collector as a sinner and the self-righteousness of the Pharisees; this is key to understanding the main point of the parable. The pharisee thought that he was righteous and attempted to justify himself. In contrast, the tax collector depended on God’s mercy and, as a result, received God’s gift of righteousness and was pronounced justified. The question is whether “to be or not to be a Pharisee; what is your answer?
Blessings and love from the Father