Scripture: Luke 18:9-14
Key verse: (14) “I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, for all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Reflection: What does it mean to be justified? If you are typing in Word, you have the option to justify your text to the right (that’s how most documents are) or to the left or centered. To be justified means to be in right position relative to something else. In faith, to be justified means we are in right relationship with God and with one another. We recognize our proper position related to God (we are creatures and not the Creator; we are disciples and Jesus is Lord) and our proper position related to our neighbors (we are equal in value though different in gifts).
In today’s passage, Jesus told a parable about two men who went to the temple to pray. The first was a Pharisee, a religious leader who was committed to living according to God’s will, a model of piety and religious responsibility. The second was a tax collector, likely viewed as a dirty national traitor, a model of greed and sinfulness. The Pharisee stands by himself (a hint that he might not be justified in his relationship to other people!) and prays with gratitude that he isn’t like the tax collector. The tax collector stands far off (a hint that he might feel guilty or ashamed) and prays for God’s mercy. Jesus ends the parable by telling us that the tax collector was justified rather than the other.
As we begin the season of Lent today, we begin by acknowledging our proper position toward God and toward one another. We are creatures and not the Creator. We are humble in the presence of God. We are welcome because God is gracious, not because we are worthy. We are part of God’s family, with brothers and sisters all around us. Let us confess the ways we position ourselves incorrectly, not admitting our need for God or for one another.
Prayer: May this song from The Many be your prayer today.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].