Luke – Dec 6

Who Are the Tax-Collectors? – Luke 18:9-14

In yesterday’s devotion, we considered who the modern day Pharisees are. Today, let’s ponder who the “tax-collector” represents.

Tax-collectors were Jews who collaborated with the Romans to collect taxes in support of Rome’s governance of Israel. For this, they were considered as traitors by most Jews. But they tended to be wealthy, so there were other, less-desirable members of Jewish society who befriended them, because it’s always nice having a rich friend. These others were outcast, social rejects, people of dubious character and association. That’s why in the Gospels we often find tax-collectors linked to a general category called “sinners” i.e.: “tax-collectors and sinners.”

In this parable, this particular tax-collector was profoundly convicted of his sin and broke in repentance. Casting himself on God’s mercy, he found forgiveness and went home justified.

The self-righteous Pharisee despised the tax-collector as human scum. We’re not told of the tax-collector’s evaluation of the Pharisee. He was too busy repenting to compare himself to anyone.

If the Pharisee represented a pious-appearing, church going, political & religious conservative Evangelical of today, who or what group does the tax-collector represent?

Since Jesus says the tax-collector went home justified, what attitude ought we have toward those groups outside the Church who seem so far away? Who are today’s “tax-collectors”?