God’s Saving Word: Mercy and Forgiveness
Luke 18:1-14: Today’s reading includes two parables depicting status reversal in which persons of low social rank (a widow and a tax collector) serve as models of prayer. The first parable teaches about not becoming discouraged, and the second one about being humble.
The Parable of the Widow and the Judge
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to teach them that they should always pray and never become discouraged. 2 “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. 3 And there was a widow in that same town who kept coming to him and pleading for her rights, saying, ‘Help me against my opponent!’ 4 For a long time the judge refused to act, but at last he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or respect people, 5 yet because of all the trouble this widow is giving me, I will see to it that she gets her rights. If I don’t, she will keep on coming and finally wear me out!’”
6 And the Lord continued, “Listen to what that corrupt judge said. 7 Now, will God not judge in favor of his own people who cry to him day and night for help? Will he be slow to help them? 8 I tell you, he will judge in their favor and do it quickly. But will the Son of Man find faith on earth when he comes?”
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 Jesus also told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else. 10 “Once there were two men who went up to the Temple to pray: one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like that tax collector over there. 12 I fast two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, ‘God, have pity on me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you,” said Jesus, “the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.”
Today’s Key Verse: Luke 18:14b
[Jesus said:] “Those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.”
What does the parable of the widow and the judge teach about prayer? How would you describe your prayer life? In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, why did Jesus say that “the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God”?
Lord God, have pity on me, a sinner! I humbly confess my sins to you and thank and praise you for your forgiveness and your steadfast love and mercy. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
And now, join us in thanking God that the Bible is bringing joy to families in Vietnam. Lord God, prior to learning about you and the hope found in your Word, people were relying on spiritualists and fortune tellers to guide their daily life. Poverty and misfortune were creating stress in family life, but thanks to the generosity of Bible-A-Month Partners, Bibles are being provided to hurting families in Vietnam. Your Word, Lord God, is a source of hope, comfort, and strength that is changing lives in Vietnam and beyond. Amen.
Exodus 1:1-22: The Israelites are slaves in Egypt.