Two prayers, two different people

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LK 18:9-14

The Pharisee enjoyed a certain amount of privilege in their society.They were held in esteem by their countrymen and frequently were in a position of honor. They were devout and worked hard at gaining Gods favor.When Jesus quoted the prayer recited by this Pharisee; I wonder what his audience thought of it? I wonder if they were distraught over it, or found it shocking? I wonder if they thought that Pharisee did anything wrong? My guess is they could not at first see anything disturbing about that prayer. These were people of the law, and the Pharisee executed that law flawlessly. He won Gods favor in their mindset due to his obedience in each aspect of that law. In contrast I wonder what they thought of the tax payers prayer? He was held in no esteem, and the polar opposite of the Pharisee. Even in his prayer he could not mention a single deed preformed to win Gods favor. his prayer is short and simple; “Oh God have mercy on me a sinner.” I wonder what the audience thought of this prayer? They likely still viewed the tax collector as an unclean thief, but what did they think of the prayer? Perhaps it confused them a bit.First the tax collector says “Oh God have mercy on me” and with that God is portrayed not as a vengeful God, but a merciful and loving God. Secondly he asks; have mercy on “a sinner.” This God is a God of forgiveness. The contrast then is not so much a contrast of the two peoples praying, but perhaps a contrast in their view of the God they pray to.The first demands Gods grace because they earned it , while the second asks for that grace because they need it. Perhaps the first is too proud to accept anything he did not work for, while the second prays for something he knows he does not deserve. The awesome thing about parables is there are so many interpretations, so many different ways of looking at them.

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