7 – The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Luke 18:9–14

Jesus tells a story about two men who were praying

9 Jesus told a story to teach other people. These people thought that they were very good in front of God. They thought that they were much better than other people.

10 Jesus said, ‘One day, two men went into the temple to pray. One man was a Pharisee. The other man took taxes from people. 11 The Pharisee stood there by himself. He prayed like this: “Thank you, God, that I am different from all these other people. They are bad people. They rob other people. They have sex with women who are not their wife. Thank you, God, that I am not like this man who takes taxes on behalf of the government. 12 I fast for two days of each week. I give to you one tenth of all the things and money that I receive.”

13 But the other man stood far away. He would not even look up towards heaven. He was hitting his body with his hands to show how sorry he was. He prayed like this: “Please, God, be kind to me. I have done many bad things.” ’

14 Jesus then said, ‘Let me tell you about these men when they went home. The man that took taxes from people was now right with God. But the Pharisee was still guilty. Some people lift themselves up to be important. But God will bring all of them down low. Other people are humble. God will lift up those people to a good place.’

Luke 18:9-14 EasyEnglish Bible (EASY)

Did you Know?

  • The temple was in Jerusalem. It was the main place of worship for Jews.
  • Sometimes Jews had to fast (not eat food).
  • Jews had to give one tenth of their income to the poor.

The Meaning of the Story

Here’s another story that Jesus told to teach people about God’s kingdom and how to enter it. The prayers of the two men were very different. The Pharisee’s prayer showed that he was proud and thought he was better than other people. He despised the tax collector. Which do you think is more important to God? Not to eat food for two days or to treat other people with respect and kindness? I am sure he thought God was his friend. He is going to receive a very big shock.

The tax collector knew he had done many bad things. He knew that God was not happy with how he had lived. So, he confessed that he was a sinner. He was a humble man. I am sure he thought God did not want to be his friend.

Jesus said that people who admit they’ve done wrong things and ask God to forgive them are God’s friends. But people who think they are better than others will never be part of God’s family.

Who is Jesus?

Jesus taught us that only people who know they have broken God’s laws and say they are sorry can enter God’s kingdom. These kinds of people are humble.

Humble people know they need God. Humble people treat other people with love and respect.

Thinking about the Story

  1. Why do you think the Pharisee stood by himself to pray?
  2. Why did God not like the Pharisee’s prayer?
  3. Why did the tax collector stand far away and beat his chest?
  4. How did the tax collector please God?
  5. What does it mean to be humble?
  6. Why is God happy with humble people?