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Finding God (5 of 11)
Series: Parables Series: Surprising Lessons on the God-Life
Introduction: For all the politically minded here today, let me make one thing perfectly clear. This is not the parable of the Pharisee and the Republican. The word is publican, a term for notorious sinners in Jesus' day. I can hear Bob Pabst saying "publican-Republican, "What's the difference?" I will get to that in a moment.
We are in a series of messages on the parables of Jesus, the teaching stories that the Lord told to illustrate and explain the values and priorities of the Kingdom of God or put in another way--"What God wants to do in our lives here and now." We commonly define the parables as "earthly stories with heavenly meanings" because Jesus takes real-life situations and describes them in a way that spotlights spiritual truths with eternal consequences. As we have noted in each of our previous looks at a parable, the key to the story is often found in a surprise twist that Jesus introduces. That is certainly true of this parable.
The last three parables we have looked at emphasized the responsibilities of faithful stewardship or management of what the Lord has placed in our lives--time, talent, treasure. Today we are turning a corner. This parable and the next two we will examine also have a common thread that ties them together.
Before most of us can appreciate the twist in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (not Republican), we must understand three key terms. The Pharisee was a member of a particular First Century Jewish sect. The Pharisees were known as "the separated ones" - that is what the name meant. The Pharisees believed that the only hope for their downtrodden nation was deliverance by the hand of God. The only thing holding that back, they believed, was the lack of faith and devotion on the part of the Jewish people. The Pharisees determined that even if no one else was going to be devoted to ...
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