|Volume 19 Number 2 February 2017||
When I was a lad, I often saw men pour coffee from their cups into their saucers. The reason being was to permit the coffee to cool because it was boiling hot. I can almost hear them slurping the coffee from their saucers. However, the title of this article is based on a religious song that emphasizes the goodness of God. I feel sure that the thought for the song was found in Psalm 23:5 when David wrote, “My cup runs over.” There is an outstanding statement made by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:21, “Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours.”
The fact is, you have been made richer than you have ever imagined. I am not necessarily thinking about the physical or the material blessings of life, even though we are recipients of a multitude of blessings from our Heavenly Father (James 1:17). However, if you have given your life in full submission to the will of God and the Lord Jesus Christ as a penitent baptized believer, you are rich toward God. A child of God is “rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (James 2:5). Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). We have been made “alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5). We are a “holy priesthood” and a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5, 9). Jesus Christ has made us to be “a kingdom” (Revelation 1:5). No wonder we are “drinking from my saucer ‘cause my cup has overflowed.”
The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Listed below are just a few of the spiritual blessings we possess and enjoy in Christ.
It is because the Lord Jesus Christ gave His life on Calvary that we have become rich in Him and possess the manifold spiritual blessings that God has given to us. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” My, my cup is really running over and I indeed have to drink from my saucer!
Terry G. Jones
Much of Jesus’ earthly teaching was done in parables. He often used vivid images and illustrations to impress upon His hearers lessons of great importance. Luke 18 begins with two parables of Jesus, both of which are about prayer. The first has to do with persistence in praying (Luke 18:1-8), while the second emphasizes the proper attitude in praying (Luke 18:9-14). Let us examine what Jesus taught in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.
The Purpose of the Parable (Luke 18:9)
Luke informs us that the purpose for which Jesus taught this parable was that some “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.” There are two things of significance to note here. (1) Trusting In Ourselves (9a). Trusting in ourselves should cause us to ponder two terrible things. First, there is the defilement of it. To trust in self reveals a lack of trust in God. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Second, there is the deception in it. Trusting in self can cause us to believe that we are better than we really are. Jesus said religious people thought they were righteous though they were not. The world is filled with religious people who have deceived themselves that they are righteous.
(2) Treatment of Others (9b). Their self-righteousness led them to “despise others.” This violates everything that Jesus ever taught. It certainly contradicts the “golden rule” (Matthew 7:12). Paul said, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3).
The People in the Parable (Luke 18:10)
In this parable, Jesus taught that there were two men who went up to the Temple to pray. The first was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were one of two primary sects among the Jews. They were known for their self-righteousness and their hypocrisy. The second was a publican. Publicans were tax collectors under the Roman government and were classed with outcasts and sinners of society.
The Pharisee in the Parable (Luke 18:11-12)
There are two primary points of emphasis about this Pharisee. First, His posture (11a). Jesus said, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself.” Standing was a common Jewish posture in prayer (Mark 11:25). However, the original word for “stood” here indicates that he struck a pose where he could be seen. Jesus condemned those who prayed “to be seen of men” (Matthew 6:5-6).
Second, His prayer (11b-12). (1) His prayer was ostentatious. The Pharisee went out of his way to draw attention to himself in exaltation both in his posture and in his prayer. He had put himself upon a pedestal above all others. (2) His prayer was obnoxious. He thanked God that he was not like other men, such as, extortioners, unjust men and adulterers. It is interesting that he did not compare himself to truly righteous men, but to the unrighteous instead. This is a common ploy to make one appear better than they are. (3) His prayer was offensive. He thanked God that he was not like this publican. Is it possible that the tax collector could have heard these words? Think of how offensive that would have been. Rather than pray for the publican, the Pharisee tromped him into the ground to make himself seem bigger.
The Publican in the Parable (Luke 18:13)
Let us also notice two things about this publican. First, His Position (13a). Concerning his position we can observe two things. (1) He was distant. He was “standing afar off.” This indicates that he was at a distance from the Pharisee not the sanctuary. He was certainly not positioned in a way that would draw attention to himself. (2) He was docile. He “would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven.” This is clearly an indication of humility and shame. Second, His Praying (13b). Three vital things can be identified in this man’s praying. (1) Contrition. He “beat his breast.” “The Lord is near those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18). (2) Crying. He cried “God be merciful to me…” He rightly understood his need for God’s mercy (Psalm 4:1). (3) Confession. He confessed to God that he was “a sinner.” The Lord promised to forgive those who would make such a confession (1 John 1:8-9).
The Point of the Parable (Luke 18:14)
Jesus concluded this parable by making the point that the publican was justified and not the Pharisee. Then, He told them why. “For everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” It matters how we live, and it matters how we pray.