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This Man Went Home Justified...

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How does this remind you of the Parable of the Pharasee and the tax collector?



I saw his portrayal as the epitome of the tax collector's cry of unworthiness. Quite simply, like all of us he is a sinner and has experienced the depth of his sin. In the face of Unconditional Love we will eventually all feel our wretchedness. Yet Jesus does not condemn or judge us, He does not tell us how bad or evil we are He shines the blinding light of His acceptance into the hole in our hearts and makes us "whole."


Alas the Pharisees of our world - past and present - are so focused on avoiding sin or balancing the scales they fail to notice the absolutely unbelievable Love and Grace God, through His Son's Resurrection - showers upon the world. I do not say this to judge or condemn; they judge and condemn themselves by the judgement they too often pass on others. Remember the words of the Pharisee as he prayed, "I thank you Lord that I am not like other men ... or like that tax collector." I can only imagine how much such a soul succeeds in walling God out of their lives, because He does not look or act like the God they have already fashioned in that hole in their souls. It is like the statue King Nebuchadnezzar sees in his dream. In time, the statue or idol we all create for ourselves will be struck down.


I recall that when that happened to me, I thought I lost my faith. It turned out that it wasn't my faith I lost, but the golden calf I fashioned out of my own beliefs. I went from being a Pharisee to feeling the agony of the tax collector (or the bad lieutenant).



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There is a "strain" of Christianity that would say that all that is necessary to have "salvation" is the accept Jesus as one's Lord and Savior. Is it that simple?


I have listened to these folks over the years and their "pitch" always begins with a Litany of Proof Texts strung together from the Jewish Testament and the Christian scripture to show me where I have gone wrong. Their claim is that by doing this deed they urge on me, I will “go right.” Really? Could it be more simple than that?


The title of this topic:


"I Tell You, This Man Went To His Home Justified..."

Refers back to Jesus' parable about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. He tells his audience that it was the Tax Collector's cry of unworthiness and request for Mercy. According to the Law, the man knew he was a sinner. What was it about the prayer of this unclean soul that Jesus remarked about his "Justification?"


In the sermon on the mount, it seems to me, that Jesus provides the answer.


"Blessed are the poor in Spirit, their's is the Kingdom of God."


Righteousness - or Justification - is not a direct consequence of something we do. So the formulaic approach to "Being Born Again" or being "Saved" does not CAUSE the desired result. Like the first three Steps of the 12 Step program(s), the Tax Collector (in his prayer) states, "1) I can't, 2) He can, 3) I want Him to do it!"

I know for myself, right now, that I am a sinner. I have been a sinner all of my life. I will continue to be a sinner until the moment of my death. Why?


I am a limited and finite human being. I do not possess "divine omniscience." I only know one thing. My "salve-ation" comes from what God does in and through me. It is His action; His unconditional Love which "heals" my fatal flaw and fills me up so I am whole. The idea of Justification or Righteousness reflects that basic truth to me. It is also a distilled version of the Gift of Faith I received when I was finally willing to accept what He wanted to give me; what He has always wanted to give me, all of us.


That is my understanding of why the Tax Collector went home Justified.



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